Alzheimer's Patients May Benefit From Novel Herbal Extracts
November 16, 2013

Herbal Extracts Could Help Stave Off Effects Of Alzheimer’s Disease

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports - Your Universe Online

A concoction made out of special antioxidants found in rosemary and spearmint has been found to improve learning and memory, and could potentially help combat Alzheimer’s disease, researchers from the Saint Louis University School of Medicine have discovered.

In research presented this week at Neuroscience 2013, the researchers explained that they tested a novel antioxidant-based ingredient made from spearmint extract, as well as two others of a similar substance made from rosemary extract, on rodents that had demonstrated symptoms of age-related cognitive decline.

“We found that these proprietary compounds reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease,” lead researcher and associate professor of medicine Dr. Susan Farr explained in a statement.

“This probably means eating spearmint and rosemary is good for you,” she added. “However, our experiments were in an animal model and I don't know how much – or if any amount – of these herbs people would have to consume for learning and memory to improve. In other words, I'm not suggesting that people chew more gum at this point.”

Dr. Farr and her colleagues reported that the higher-dose rosemary extract compound had the greatest impact on improving memory and learning in a series of three different tested behaviors. The lower-dose rosemary extract and the spearmint extract compound each improved memory in two of those three tests.

The study, which was supported by the VA Medical Center in St. Louis, also observed reduced oxidative stress in the part of the brain controlling memory and learning. Oxidative stress is considered to be one of the telltale signs of age-related cognitive decline, and Dr. Farr said that her team’s findings suggest that “extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline.”

According to the US National Institute on Aging (NIA), Alzheimer’s disease is “an irreversible, progressive brain disease that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually even the ability to carry out the simplest tasks.” Symptoms typically appear after age 60, and while the estimated number of people who have the condition vary, the agency believes that as many as 5.1 Americans could be battling the neurodegenerative condition.