The 16th century Swiss physician, Paracelsus, sold lemon balm to kings with the promise of inhibiting early senility. The herb continues to draw attention in modern-day laboratories for its potential to help Alzheimer’s patients. Professor Elaine Perry of the University of Newcastle tested the effect of balm on the enzyme and receptors responsible for helping the molecule acetylcholine transmit nerve signals. Although more research is necessary, lemon Balm extract stimulated the receptors successfully.
Sage was examined in the same Newcastle University study that reviewed lemon balm to help cognitive function. While balm stimulated the receptors, sage inhibited acetylcholinesterase in a similar way to the Alzheimer’s drug, Aricept.
Known to support blood flow, and oxygen, to the brain, Ginkgo may promote cognition and has caught the eye of western researchers. The University of Maryland Medical Center found that Ginkgo may help Alzheimer’s patients, and a 2010 study published in BMC Geriatrics found that the herb was more effective than a placebo in reducing Alzheimer’s-related dementia . A recent Chinese study found that, of 120 patients with mild cognitive impairment, the group who received Gingko biloba leaf tablets for 6 months scored significantly higher in logical memory and nonsense picture recognition tests than the control group .
One look at the cat’s claw vine will bring back memories of your first cat scratch. Originally occurring in the Amazon rainforest, natives used cat’s claw to help calm redness and swelling, especially in the bones and joints. Studies of cat’s claw show that it dilates blood vessels, which might make it a helpful herb for Alzheimer’s patients, whose bloodflow is weak, resulting in less oxygen in their brain cells.
In addition to diabetes, cancer, colds and flu, Asian and American ginseng have been studied for their potentially beneficial effects on Alzheimer’s patients. S. Q. Hu, author of a 2008 article published in the Journal of Chinese Medicinal Materials, claims that American ginseng extracts reduced cell death in Alzheimer’s disease in animal studies .
In addition to consulting a holistic physician and utilizing these key herbs, those with early signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s should lower their stress levels, consume more vitamin E, and include more raw organic virgin coconut oil into their diets.
- Weinmann S, Roll S, Schwarzbach C, Vauth C, Willich SN. Effects of Ginkgo biloba in dementia: systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Geriatr. 2010 Mar 17;10:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2318-10-14. Review.
- Ming-xing Zhao, Zhen-hua Dong, Zhong-hai Yu, Shi-yuan Xiao, Ya-ming Li. Effects of Ginkgo biloba extract in improving episodic memory of patients with mild cognitive impairment: a randomized controlled trial. Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine. 2012 June. Volume 10 Number 6
- Hu SQ, Yu HM, Liu TS, Yang DJ, Chen XZ, He CJ. [Neuroprotective effects of water extracts of American Ginseng on SH-SY5Y cells apoptosis induced by Abeta25-35]. Zhong Yao Cai. 2008 Sep;31(9):1373-7. Chinese.