Ashwagandha has shown beneficial for Alzheimer’s disease.
By: Bruce Brightman, LifeSource Vitamins
Ashwagandha Reverses Cognitive Deficits
Building on previous work which demonstrated the neuro-regenerative
properties of ashwagandha, researchers tested its effect on Alzheimer’s
disease. A group of rats with the condition were administered a placebo or
ashwagandha root for 30 days. After 20 days, the mice receiving the
ashwagandha started exhibiting improved cognitive function. They were able
to navigate through maze tests from which they had difficulty prior to
supplementation. This demonstrated an improvement in spatial memory and
learning. 1 In addition, they experienced a reduction in amyloid
plaque in different parts of the brain including the cortex and the
hippocampus, the area in which memories are stored.
Ashwagandha: A Potential Brain Drug?
Current medications for Alzheimer’s disease target symptoms, but fall short
of addressing the underlying contributing factors. They do not reverse
their progression or provide a cure. Ashwagandha, on the other hand,
attacks multiple aspects of the disease.
Human clinical trials are needed, but so far cell culture and animal
studies show promising results. Here are some of the findings showing it
may have potential as a future Alzheimer’s medication:
It restores synapses, the junctions where nerve cells communicate with
other cells after amyloid-induced injury. 2 One
characteristic of Alzheimer’s disease is decreased synaptic density.
It supports the growth of dendrites, the short branched extensions of a
nerve cell. 2
It regenerates axons, the long threadlike part of a nerve which
transmits impulses. 2
It increases neurite growth. 2
It protects against glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter, which
destroys brain cells and plays a role in Alzheimer’s disease. 3
It decreases reaction times in human clinical trials. 4
It protects brain cells from beta-amyloid-induced cell damage. 5
It guards brain cells against free radicals that are implicated in
Alzheimer’s disease. 6
It inhibits acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme that breaks down
acetylcholine. Current medications used to treat Alzheimer’s disease
function via this mechanism. 7
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1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2012 February 28; 109(9): 3510–3515.
2. Eur J Neurosci . 2006 Mar;23(6):1417-26.
3. PLoS One . 2012;7(5):e37080.
4. Pharmacognosy Res . 2014 Jan;6(1):12-8.
5. Phytother Res . 2010 Jun;24(6):859-63.
6. Phytother Res . 2010 Oct;24(10):1567-74.
7. Chem Pharm Bull (Tokyo) . 2004 Nov;52(11):1358-61