World Parkinson’s Day is observed on April 11 every year to create awareness about the disease. A slow progressing neurodegenerative disorder, Parkinson’s disease takes years to develop. The brain slowly stops making the neurotransmitter dopamine, which is associated with several motor and cognitive functions. With less dopamine being produced, the person loses his ability to move, think clearly and can even become resilient to emotions and feelings.

Though the mental, physical and emotional changes brought by the disorder are tough to handle, certain herbs have shown promise in combating it. Rich in antioxidants and other brain-healthy compounds, these medicinal herbs can improve memory and cognitive function, as well as slow the progression of the disease.

1. Ginkgo Biloba
One of the best known brain herbs, Ginkgo has been studied extensively for its brain-boosting properties. Its antioxidant and neuroprotective properties have been highlighted through various studies as an effective remedy.

Ginkgo offers protection against MPTP, a neurotoxin that promotes Parkinson’s symptoms, and reduces the chances of dementia associated with it.[2] It also improves the blood flow to the brain, which aids in the delivery and availability of dopamine. [1,3]

2. Green Tea
We all are aware of the weight loss, anti-cancer and anti-aging benefits of green tea. Research suggests that this miracle drink is a boon for Parkinson’s patients as well.[4]

Rich in polyphenolic catechins, green tea protects the dopaminergic neurons in the brain.[1] A study carried out at the Seoul National University College of Medicine found that epigallocatechin, a polyphenol found in green tea, functions as a neuroprotective agent slashing neuronal death rate by half.[5]

3. Astragalus
Like Ginkgo, this herb protects the brain cells from MPTP-induced cell death, thus protecting the dopaminergic neurons.[1] The active component astragaloside present in it protects the brain cells from free radical damage and dementia.[6] A 2009 study carried by scientists at the Hong Kong Baptist University found that astragalus also promotes growth of new neurons.[7]

4. Panax Ginseng
More than 30 ginsenosides present in Panax ginseng exhibit neuroprotective effects.[1, 8,10] A 2007 study carried out in China found that Panax ginseng can attenuate the inflammation of dopaminergic neurons in the brain and protect them from degeneration.[9] This variant of ginseng can also slow the progression of the disease.

For more interesting stories, visit our Health page and read about other Natural Remedies here.

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1. Li XZ, Zhang SN, Liu SM, Lu F. Recent advances in herbal medicines treating Parkinson’s disease. Fitoterapia. 2013 Jan;84:273-85. doi: 10.1016/j.fitote.2012.12.009. Epub 2012 Dec 21. Review. PubMed PMID: 23266574.

2. Tanaka K, Galduróz RF, Gobbi LT, Galduróz JC. Ginkgo biloba extract in an animal model of Parkinson’s disease: a systematic review. Curr Neuropharmacol.2013 Jul;11(4):430-5. doi: 10.2174/1570159X11311040006. PubMed PMID: 24381532; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3744905.

3. Kim MS, Lee JI, Lee WY, Kim SE. Neuroprotective effect of Ginkgo biloba L. extract in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Phytother Res. 2004 Aug;18(8):663-6. PubMed PMID: 15472919.

4. Pan T, Jankovic J, Le W. Potential therapeutic properties of green teapolyphenols in Parkinson’s disease. Drugs Aging. 2003;20(10):711-21. Review.PubMed PMID: 12875608.

5. Kim JS, Kim JM, O JJ, Jeon BS. Inhibition of inducible nitric oxide synthase expression and cell death by (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate, a green tea catechin, in the 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson’s disease. J Clin Neurosci. 2010 Sep;17(9):1165-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jocn.2010.01.042. Epub 2010 Jun 11.

6. Zhang ZG, Wu L, Wang JL, Yang JD, Zhang J, Zhang J, Li LH, Xia Y, Yao LB, Qin HZ, Gao GD. Astragaloside IV prevents MPP⁺-induced SH-SY5Y cell death via the inhibition of Bax-mediated pathways and ROS production. Mol Cell Biochem. 2012 May;364(1-2):209-16. doi: 10.1007/s11010-011-1219-1. Epub 2012 Jan 26. PubMed PMID: 22278385.

7. Chan WS, Durairajan SS, Lu JH, Wang Y, Xie LX, Kum WF, Koo I, Yung KK, Li M.Neuroprotective effects of Astragaloside IV in 6-hydroxydopamine-treated primary nigral cell culture. Neurochem Int. 2009 Nov;55(6):414-22. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2009.04.012. Epub 2009 May 4. PubMed PMID: 19409437.

8. Cho IH. Effects of Panax ginseng in Neurodegenerative Diseases. J Ginseng Res.2012 Oct;36(4):342-53. doi: 10.5142/jgr.2012.36.4.342. PubMed PMID: 23717136;PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3659610.

9. Lin WM, Zhang YM, Moldzio R, Rausch WD. Ginsenoside Rd attenuatesneuroinflammation of dopaminergic cells in culture. J Neural Transm Suppl.2007;(72):105-12. PubMed PMID: 17982883.

10. Van Kampen JM, Baranowski DB, Shaw CA, Kay DG. Panax ginseng is neuroprotective in a novel progressive model of Parkinson’s disease. Exp Gerontol. 2014 Feb;50:95-105. doi: 10.1016/j.exger.2013.11.012. Epub 2013 Dec 3.PubMed PMID: 24316034.