Alzheimer's disease or dementia are brain diseases that can occur during the later stage of human life. Scientists are still researching and looking for ways to counteract and slow down the symptoms of these diseases
One potential solution is the supplementation of the Indian herb called Ashwagandha. It inhibits the production of beta-amyloid plaques.
Beta-amyloid is made up of 40-42 amino acids. It accumulates in the brains of people suffering from diseases such as Alzheimer's and others affecting neuronal degeneration. The exact mechanism is still being studied, but it is already known that there are agents that can mitigate this process. These include curcumin, rosmarinic acid, tannic acid, catechins and quercetin. These substances are believed to prevent the clumping of amyloid-beta peptides, which consequently form plaques. Brain cells are capable of breaking down loose peptides. However, they are not able to break down the whole formed plaques, so they are unable to defend themselves if they do form.
Beta-amyloid is toxic to the brain. However, in 2010, researchers published a study showing that Ashwagandha extracts reduce their toxic effects on brain cells.
Ashwagandha and beta-amyloid - study
In a more recent study, researchers set out to see what concentration of ashwagandha extract would most effectively inhibit the production of beta-amyloid peptides. Here they took some inspiration from the Ayurvedic tradition, which has used ashwagandha for centuries as a supplement to aid memory and concentration.
The concentrations of Ashwagandha extracts used for the study (micrograms/ml) were:
The results showed that the higher the dose, the fewer peptides, forming beta-amyloid were synthesized.
The topic still needs further research, but it seems that Ashwagandha may become an effective part of therapy for patients with Alzheimer's disease as well as for people with mild cognitive impairment.