Mediterranean Plants May Hold Key to Delaying Neurodegenerative Diseases

Volume 7    |    Issue 9

While Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease affect your body differently, they do have some similarities. And new research shows that two Mediterranean plants might be able to use these similarities to slow the progression of both diseases (and other neurodegenerative diseases).

Both Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease are characterized by the accumulation of sticky protein clumps. Over time these clumps damage the nervous system and erode either your memory or your mobility. So researchers wanted to know if there was a way to prevent these protein clumps from developing.

The researchers started by testing the prickly pear plant and brown seaweed on brewer’s yeast brimming with beta-amyloid clumps. The beta-amyloid protein is a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. After they exposed the yeast to the plant extracts, its health improved dramatically. So the researchers took their research a bit further. They began testing the extracts on fruit flies they had genetically modified to develop Alzheimer’s symptoms.

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They found that the seaweed extract was able to increase the average lifespan of the diseased flies by two days. The prickly pear was even more beneficial. It increased the fruit flies average lifespan by four days. Since one day in a fruit fly’s life is equivalent to about one year in humans, these results are amazing. What really caught my attention, though, was that it didn’t just help them live longer. It also helped their quality of life, as both extracts improved the mobility of the flies by about 18%.

But the researchers didn’t stop there. After seeing these dramatic results, they tested the substances on flies with brains overloaded with alpha-synuclein. This is the gummy protein implicated in Parkinson's disease. And they found that it had a similar effect on both their lifespan and their mobility. This told the researchers that the extracts had a dynamic effect on the neurodegenerative mechanisms shared by both diseases. In other words, the extracts were able to interfere with and slow the build-up of both beta-amyloid and alpha-synuclein proteins.

This study is fantastic news for anyone who is at risk for or who has either of these diseases. If this describes you or any of your loved ones, consider trying prickly pear and brown seaweed. Unfortunately, the study didn’t compare using both extracts together, but I suspect the results would be even better. You can find prickly pear on the Internet and in many health food stores. And you can order brown seaweed from Advanced Bionutritionals. Brown seaweed is the primary ingredient in their Alginol supplement. This is a fantastic supplement for many health challenges, so it’s great for everyone to be taking every day.

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