Plant compound found in herbs can help treat depression, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease
(NaturalHealth365) Scientists have uncovered more strong evidence that a naturally occurring plant compound found in herbs and other plant-based foods could give brain neurons the boost they need to improve brain health. The results could be a natural and effective treatment for such conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, depression and Parkinson’s disease, among others.
Using a naturally occurring substance known as apigenin, researchers were able to develop new and stronger neurons within a lab setting. Their results are a step forward in demonstrating the effectiveness of using herbs and other sources of apigenin to safely improve brain health and function.
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Lab trial reveals brain health improvements in just 25 days
Brazilian researchers from D’Or Institute for Research and Education, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro and Federal University of Bahia expanded on earlier animal research that had found flavonoids in general had a positive impact on memory and learning. The Brazilian researchers expanded on those findings, and demonstrated in the laboratory that apigenin can be used to improve neuron formation and strengthen the connections among brain cells.
The researchers found that applying apigenin to human stem cells in a dish caused the formation of neurons in less than a month’s time. In addition, they observed that the neurons that developed formed stronger, more sophisticated communications among themselves. The researchers noted that strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain health, including better memory and learning capabilities.
Offering a safer, natural therapy option
The latest research findings could represent a step forward in developing an alternative treatment to estrogen-based therapies, which increase the risk for cardiovascular problems and risk of estrogen-dependent tumors. The research team found that apigenin, a natural plant substance belonging to the flavone class of flavonoids, works by binding to estrogen receptors.
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Those receptors are known to affect the development, maturation, function and plasticity of the nervous system. It was already known that the estrogen group of hormones can delay the onset of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders. The use of apigenin could offer a safer alternative for future treatments of such diseases and disorders as schizophrenia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and others.
Improve brain health with a diet rich in flavonoids
Flavonoids, such as apigenin, are present in high amounts in many fruits and vegetables. In addition to their antioxidant behavior, flavonoids are known to be antiviral, antiallergic, anticancer and anti-inflammatory.
The results of the latest research on apigenin suggest building a diet rich in flavonoids could also have a positive impact on the formation of neurons as well as how those neurons communicate with the brain. This in turn, could improve memory, learning and other brain functions.
Apigenins are found in many fruits and vegetables, but especially in parsley, thyme, chamomile, celery, celeriac, and chamomile tea. Other foods known to be high in flavonoids in general include parsley, onions, all citrus fruits, black tea, green tea, oolong tea, blueberries and other berries, bananas, Ginkgo biloba, red wine, dark chocolate and the herb sea buckthorn.
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