The Psychopharmacology of European Herbs with Cognition-Enhancing Properties

Human Cognitive Neuroscience Unit, Division of Psychology, Northumbria University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8ST UK.
Current pharmaceutical design (Impact Factor: 3.45). 02/2006; 12(35):4613-23. DOI: 10.2174/138161206779010387
Source: PubMed


Extensive research suggests that a number of plant-derived chemicals and traditional Oriental herbal remedies possess cognition-enhancing properties. Widely used current treatments for dementia include extracts of Ginkgo biloba and several alkaloidal, and therefore toxic, plant-derived cholinergic agents. Several non-toxic, European herbal species have pan-cultural traditions as treatments for cognitive deficits, including those associated with ageing. To date they have not received research interest commensurate with their potential utility. Particularly promising candidate species include sage (Salvia lavandulaefolia/officinalis), Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis) and rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis). In the case of sage, extracts possess anti-oxidant, estrogenic, and anti-inflammatory properties, and specifically inhibit butyryl- and acetyl-cholinesterase. Acute administration has also been found to reliably improve mnemonic performance in healthy young and elderly cohorts, whilst a chronic regime has been shown to attenuate cognitive declines in sufferers from Alzheimer's disease. In the case of Melissa officinalis, extracts have, most notably, been shown to bind directly to both nicotinic and muscarinic receptors in human brain tissue. This property has been shown to vary with extraction method and strain. Robust anxiolytic effects have also been demonstrated following acute administration to healthy humans, with mnemonic enhancement restricted to an extract with high cholinergic binding properties. Chronic regimes of aromatherapy and essential oil respectively have also been shown to reduce agitation and attenuate cognitive declines in sufferers from dementia. Given the side effect profile of prescribed cholinesterase inhibitors, and a current lack of a well tolerated nicotinic receptor agonist, these herbal treatments may well provide effective and well-tolerated treatments for dementia, either alone, in combination, or as an adjunct to conventional treatments.

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    • "Nowadays, there are several propositions for the relief of mood disorders in postmenopausal women, which mainly consists of estrogenic agents, combination therapy and plant-derived natural products (Soares, Prouty, Born, & Steiner, 2005). Phytoestrogens and many other estrogen-like compounds in plants, due to fewer side effects, have been massively proposed to prevent menopause-related cognitive decline (Kennedy & Scholey, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: Lower level of estrogen hormone is considered as an important factor for loss of learning and memory in postmenopausal women. Although estrogen replacement therapy is used for compensation, but long-term usage of estrogen is associated with a higher risk of hormone-dependent cancers. Phytoestrogens, due to fewer side effects, have been proposed to prevent menopause-related cognitive decline. Methods: 24 female Wistar rats weighing 180-220 g were used in this study. The animals were ovariectomized and randomly divided into four groups including, control and two groups which received 8 and 80 mg/kg Vitex agnus castus (VAC) ethanolic extract orally. The last groups were treated with 40 μg/kg of estradiol valerat. Step-through passive avoidance (STPA) test was used for the evaluation of learning and memory. The hippocampal estrogen receptor α (ERα) expression was measured using Real-Time PCR. Results: The results demonstrated that VAC extract or estradiol had better performance on step-through passive avoidance test than control group (all P<0.05). Moreover, administration of either estradiol or VAC extract increased the hippocampal mRNA level of ERα and prevented the decrease in uterine weight of ovariectomized rats. Discussion: Based on our data, VAC extract improves learning and memory in ovariectomized rats. The positive effect of VAC extract on learning and memory is possibly associated with an increase in ERα gene expression in the hippocampal formation.
    Autonomic neuroscience: basic & clinical 08/2015; 6(3):185-192. · 1.56 Impact Factor
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    • "Another important ingredient of sage is carnosic acid, which at low doses reduces body weight gain and the accumulation of epididymal fat when rodents are kept on a high fat diet-fed. (Ninomiya et al., 2004; and Kianbakht and Dabaghian, 2013 ) The components of sage extracts also have the ability to influence neuronal receptors, which has implications for modulating appetite and food intake (Kennedy and Scholey, 2006). Sage extract exhibits hepatoprotective effects, stimulates the digestive tract and has cardioprotective properties (Clearfield, 2008). "
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    ABSTRACT: The present study evaluated the safety and the hypolipidemic impact of aqueous extracts of some medicinal herbs namely, Salvia officinalis (sage) leaf extract, Alpinia galanga (galangal) rhizome extract, and gum olibanum extract of Boswellia serrata (frankincense) on heart of rats.. Creatin phophokinase (CPK), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and glucose were assessed in heart tissue. Results revealed that oral ingestion of sage aqueous extracts to rats for 30 consecutive days showed non significant change in heart parameters. Meanwhile, galangal extract markedly induced elevation in both enzyme activities as well as in the glucose content of cardiac tissue when compared with control animals. Frankincense aqueous extract showed an adverse effect on heart tissue which ensured by marked decrease in CPK, LDH and glucose in heart tissue. Serum cholesterol and triacyglycerol (TGs) in rats were also investigated to evaluate the hypolipidemic efficacy of the tested herb extracts. The result showed that sag extract has no effect on serum cholesterol but it has lowering effect on serum TGs level. However, galangal extract has lowering effect on serum cholesterol and non significant change was observed in serum TGs level versus control rats. Frankincense extract has no effect on serum lipid profiles when compared to control animals. Overall, sag and galangal aqueous extracts does not adversely influence rat heart coupled with their beneficial hypolipidemic capacity, however frankincense extract showed an adverse effect on heart tissue and precautions must be taken during it's us as a traditional herbal medicine.
    • "Recent studies have also described immunomodulatory activity of oregano by decreasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1β, and IL-6 mRNA in colonic tissue of mice with colitis.[27] Also of the Lamiaceae family, sage (Salvia officinalis) contains a variety of bioactive phytochemicals including phenolic compounds, flavonoids, essential oils, catechins, and tannins that may confer important health benefits.[32–34] Sage has traditionally been used to enhance cognitive performance and memory but more recently for the therapeutic management of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease.[32–34] "
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    ABSTRACT: Lamiaceae herbs have are well known for their immunomodulatory effects, however, the mechanism by which they effect innate immune system is not clearly understood. The effect of dietary supplementation with two Lamiaceae herbs (oregano and sage) modulation of on innate immunological parameters was investigated in Lumbricus terrestris. Animals were fed (ad libitum) on herbs supplemented diet [(0.1% (w/v) and 0.5% (w/v)] for 6 days. Changes in immune competent cell counts, viability, and relative neutrophil-like cell counts were determined in response to herb treatment. Changes in nitric oxide, phagocytic activity, and respiratory burst index were also determined in response to herb treatment relative to control. Additionally, effect of herb co-treatment cyclophosphamide (50 mg/kg-BW) induced immunosuppression was also evaluated. Our results suggested abrogation of CP-induced immunosuppression in response to co-treatment with herbs. Significant increase in nitric oxide-mediated immune-competent cell counts, viability, and differentiation into neutrophil-like cells were observed in response to dietary supplementation with Lamiaceae herbs. Significantly higher phagocytic activity relative to control was also noted in response to dietary intake of oregano and sage. However, the respiratory burst index did not increase exponentially in response to herb treatments, suggesting a potential enhancement in pathogen recognition and antioxidant defenses. Lamiaceae herbs may have potential immune-modulatory properties important for human health and merits further investigation.
    03/2013; 5(1):1-9. DOI:10.4103/0974-8490.105636
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