Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
Promising research indicates that a little physical exercise in addition to some melatonin might work to help out Alzheimer’s patients.
A study carried out on mice with three different mutations of Alzheimer’s disease found that the combination of physical exercise and the daily intake of melatonin had a synergistic effect against brain deterioration.
“For years we have known that the combination of different anti-aging therapies such as physical exercise, a Mediterranean diet, and not smoking adds years to one’s life,” Coral Sanfeliu, from the Barcelona Biomedical Research Institute, said in a statement. “Now it seems that melatonin, the sleep hormone, also has important anti-aging effects”.
During the study, the scientists analyzed the combined effects of sport and melatonin in 3xTg-AD mice that were experiencing an initial phase of Alzheimer’s and presented learning difficulties and changes in behavior like anxiety and apathy.
The mice were divided into one control group and three other groups, which would undergo different treatments.
“After six months, the state of the mice undergoing treatment was closer to that of the mice with no mutations than to their own initial pathological state. From this we can say that the disease has significantly regressed,” Sanfeliu said in the statement.
The scientists reported in the journal Neurobiology of Aging a general improvement in behavior, learning and memory with the three treatments.
The experts pointed out that transferring treatments from animals to humans is not always consistent, because “in humans the disease develops over several years, so that when memory loss begins to surface, the brain is already very deteriorated.”
However, clinical studies found signs of physical and mental benefits in sufferers of Alzheimer’s resulting from both treatments. The authors said adopting healthy living habits is essential for reducing the risk of the disease appearing as well as reducing the severity of its effects.
Using melatonin has positive effects, which can be used for treating humans, according to the study. With the approval of melatonin as a medication in the European Union, clinical testing on this molecule has been increasing.
The Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database said that melatonin is probably effective in sleeping disorders in children with autism and mental retardation, and in blind people.
“However, other studies which use melatonin as medication show its high level of effectiveness,” DarÃo AcuÃ±a-Castroviejo, who has been studying melatonin for several years at the Health Sciences Technology Park of the University of Granada, said in a statement.
The scientists said that international consensus already exists, showing how melatonin is the first choice treatment for insomnia in patients above the age of 55.
“Even though many more studies and clinical tests are still required to assess the doses of melatonin which will be effective for a wide range of diseases, the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of melatonin mean that its use is highly recommended for diseases which feature oxidative stress and inflammation,” AcuÃ±a-Castroviejo said in the statement.