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. It also improves the blood flow to the brain, which aids in the delivery and availability of dopamine. [1,3]
Rich in polyphenolic catechins, green tea protects the dopaminergic neurons in the brain. 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.
Like Ginkgo, this herb protects the brain cells from MPTP-induced cell death, thus protecting the dopaminergic neurons. The active component astragaloside present in it protects the brain cells from free radical damage and dementia. A 2009 study carried by scientists at the Hong Kong Baptist University found that astragalus also promotes growth of new neurons.
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. This variant of ginseng can also slow the progression of the disease.
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