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Neurodegenerative diseases in 2018

Cases of Alzheimer's disease are expected to triple by 2050[0]. Neurodegenerative diseases
are increasing around the world. [1] The most common degenerative nerve diseases are:
[Alzheimer disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson disease, Lewy Body Dementia,
Frontotemporal Dementia, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis(ALS), Huntington Chorea, and Prion
Diseases]. Neurofibrillary tangles and many kinds of striatal amyloid plaques are identifiers
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s and Dementia. This nerve damage causes loss of motor control
and loss of memory.
A mild case of neurodegeneration has been presumed to be normal aging – The term “Senior
Moment” is in the dictionary. Cognitive aging may actually be an earlier stage of Parkinson’s or
another neurodegenerative disease as opposed to a normal aspect of aging like grey hair.[3]
Dementia affects 1 in 20 people over the age of 65. The age-specific incidence of dementia in
the UK increases from 7/1000 per year at age 65 to 85/1000 per year at age 85.[6] In a US
study, about 2.5% of subjects aged 65 to 74 years had a clinical diagnosis of senile dementia
compared to 4% of those aged 75 to 79, 11% of those aged 80 to 84 and 24% of those aged 85
to 93.[7] Additionally, many more people suffer from mild cognitive impairment that does not
progress to dementia.
In the late 1990’s it first became accepted knowledge that humans have the ability to create new
neurons. I was previously thought that we were born with all the neurons we will ever have and
that we can only lose them, however we now know of the process called neurogenesis.[9][10] It
is now known that medicines causing the inhibition of the acetylcholinesterase (AChE) enzyme
improve cognitive abilities for neurodegenerative diseases. AChE inhibitors currently serve as
front line medication for Parkinsons and Alzheimers. They also have been found to improve
behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. [2]
To aid in the understanding cholinergic principles, consider Datura Stramonium from the
nightshade family which is an anticholinergic agent, a substance that blocks the
neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Classified as a deliriant, it causes bizarre behavior and
pronounced amnesia. The effects from Datura poisoning generally last from 24-48 hours and in
some cases, it can last 2 weeks. [13] The common-knowledge antidote is a reversible
cholinesterase inhibitor, Physostigmine, interestingly - acquired from the poisonous Manchineel
tree. [14]
There are multiple reversible AChE inhibitors that have varying methods of action based on their
classification of competitive, noncompetitive, or a degree of mixed inhibition that determines the
duration and bonding affinity between the inhibitor and the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. As of
2018, three acetylcholinesterase (AChE) inhibitors donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine are
recommended as options for managing Alzheimer's disease. Guidance note 1.4 says “If
prescribing an AChE inhibitor (donepezil, galantamine or rivastigmine), treatment should
normally be started with the drug with the lowest acquisition cost” [12]
Deoxypeganine is an Alkaloid from Syrian Rue (Peganum Harmala), a plant used extensively in
traditional medicine in lands with an Islamic heritage for CNS and other ailments. This
compound is shown to have acetylcholinesterase inhibitory activity twice that of Galantamine."
[15] This knowledge is not being utilized by mainstream medicine. Additionally, it has been
proven that harmane, harmine, and harmaline, the main active constituent in Syrian Rue, had
good selective inhibitory activities against acetylcholinesterase. [17] 80 extracts were screened
for AChE inhibitory activity by a TLC bioautography method. The inhibiting effect of the 32 most
active extracts was measured by a microplate colorimetric assay. Due to the best activity, the
seeds of Peganum harmala L. were investigated in detail. [11]
In 2017 mankind first discovered 10 additional alkaloids in Peganum harmala. Their alkaloids
structures, including stereochemistry, were elucidated through spectroscopic analyses, quantum
chemistry calculations, and single-crystal X-ray diffraction. [18] In the Tihkal under the harmaline
entry it mentions that the effects of pure harmaline by itself, differ from the effects of Peganum
harmala whole seeds. Shulgan wrote, “They are very different from one-another.” Other
researchers concur with Shulgans findings.
It has also been noted by experiential researchers that the inhaled effects from Syrian Rue
smoke differ from oral digestion. It is possible that heat decarboxylates part of the medicine as
is the case with tetrahydrocannabinol. [19] Interestingly, it has also been shown that the main
active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (abbreviated THC), is also a competitive
inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase.[16] Furthermore, In Islam, according to the Shi'a hadith,
Muhammad was commanded by God to have his people ingest Syrian Rue for bravery. This
Hadith is interesting in the present connection because it is followed by the recommendation not
that it be ingested, but that it be burned as incense instead. In an older text, another hadith
indicates that Syrian Rue was consumed orally in a drink made with milk. [20] Because it is
known that Syrian Rue contains a minimum of 4 different alkaloids which act as
acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, and it is known that there are subtle differences in each
inhibitors selectivity and duration, it would reason that the seeds as a whole are a more effective
medicine than any alkaloid that is singled out from them. Leonardo da Vinci wrote that Syrian
Rue is “miracle smart nutrient” and he was neither Islamic nor aware of neurofibrillary tangles
and amyloid plaques. Syrian Rue apparently flosses your neurons and brushes your brain.
Syrian Rue is not the only natural plant medicine. Marijuana[16] is scientifically known to be in
the same medicinal category as donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine which are the leading
prescriptions for the leading problem plaguing humanity as we enter 2018. Sacred Plant
medicines will be recognized as we exit 2018. Levels of neurotoxic b-amyloid peptides are
significantly decreased in postmortem examinations of Alzheimer’s victims.[4] Nicotine
produces clarity and cognitive improvement when the Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors(nAChRs)
are activated.[5] The tobacco plant has greater medicinal activity when used as a snuff for
Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption have been found to have preventive effects on cognitive
decline and dementia. Beyond the short-term enhancing effects, some studies examined the
long-term effects and showed that coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption could contribute to
protect against late-life cognitive decline and dementia.[8] It was discovered that there is a
neuronic layer routing electrical neuroblasts in stimulated neurons near neurogenesis.[21]
Electrical activity also stimulates the making of small fibers that assist the migration of newborn
neurons [22] Exciting the neurotransmitters serotonin, acetylcholine, dopamine, and glutamate
have been identified as factors in stimulating neurogenesis.[23] We have known for a while
that exercise produces serotonin and dopamine.[24] We know now that introducing those
neurotransmitters also promotes neurogenesis. Increased neurogenesis has been observed by
both enriched environment stimuli and exercise. [25]
Antidepressant Treatment Increases Hippocampal Neurogenesis [26]. Others have confirmed
the induction of neurogenesis by antidepressant drugs.[27] [28] Antidepressants that enhance
serotonergic signaling stimulate hippocampal neurogenesis by a mechanism that may involve
upregulation of BDNF. These drugs raise serotonin and dopamine levels. Interestingly, the
strongest type of Antidepressant is inhibition of monoamine oxidase, an MAOI. Due to the
dangers of synthesized pharmaceutical irreversible MAOI’s they are only prescribed as a last
resort. Therefore, Syrian Rue is a multi-faceted medicine for promoting neurogenesis because
it also functions as a very potent reversible MAOI medicine.
One study finally looks beyond the acetylcholinesterase inhibition aspect to study the whole-
medicine cerebroprotective effect of the isolated total alkaloid extract of Peganum harmala by its
antioxidant characteristic in ethanol influenced oxidation by increasing the GSH and decreasing
the TBARS level in whole brain, which delays the neurodegenerative process. The
cerebroprotective effect was further adorned by its MAO-A inhibitory action, by which it
influences the effects of epinephrine and other monoamines. It prevented the DNA
fragmentation of frontotemporal cortex of the brain by decreasing in the internucleosomal DNA
fragmentation and lowering the laddering pattern. Hence, all these preventive measure of
harmal alkaloids of seeds of Peganum harmala are potential enough in the management of
Neurodegenerative disorders of the type Alzheimer’s diseases.[29]
If binding more serotonin at receptor sites promotes neurogenesis it is likely that plant sources
of natural analogs of Dimethyltryptamine(DMT), which are psychedelic tryptamines or
serotonergic psychedelics, such as 4-AcO-DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, 5-HO-DMT, psilocybin (4-PO-
DMT), and psilocin (4-HO-DMT) binding to the same receptor sites as serotonin, may also
promote neurogenesis.
Finally, sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) may directly and/or indirectly affect neurogenesis in
the aging brain. For example, estrogen levels decline abruptly in post-menopausal women not receiving
hormone replacement therapy. Estrogen deprivation significantly reduces hippocampal BDNF levels in the
female rat hippocampus; Estrogen alone promotes proliferation of both embryonic and adult neural stem
cells (Brannvall, 2002). Similarly, men experience an age-related decline in testosterone levels.
Testosterone promotes neurogenesis in the adult songbird neostriatum (Louissaint ci a!., 2002)
[5] Brain effects of Nicotine and derived compounds, ISSN: 1664-8714, ISBN: 978-2-88919-
141-3, DOI 10.3389/fphar.2012.00116
[8] Review Coffee, tea, and caffeine consumption and prevention of late-life cognitive decline
and dementia: a systematic review. J Nutr Health Aging. 2015 Mar; 19(3):313-
[11]Phytotherapy Research Volume 25, Issue 8 August 2011 Pages 1148–1152, DOI:
L. Krenn, Dept of Pharmacognosy, University of Vienna, Althanstrasse 14, A-1090 Vienna,
[15] Selected Topics in the Chemistry of Natural Products,
World Scientific, Ikan, R., 2008 ISBN 9812705694, 9789812705693
[17] Journal of Chemistry
Acetylcholinesterase and Butyrylcholinesterase Inhibitory Activities of β-Carboline and Quinoline
Alkaloids Derivatives from the Plants of Genus Peganum
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 717232, 6 pages
[18] J. Nat. Prod., 2017, 80 (2), pp 551–559
DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.6b01146 Pub Date: January 27, 2017
The American Chemical Society and American Society of Pharmacognosy
[21] Neuron. 2004 May 27;42(4):535-52.
[22] Natural Neuroscience. 2004 Apr;7(4):347-56. Epub 2004 Mar 14.
[23] Annals of neurology 2002 Aug;52(2):135-43.,
[25] Nature Genetics, 2004 Aug;36(8):827-35. Epub 2004 Jul 18. PMID:15258583
[26]Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2001 Nov;299(2):401-7.
[27] Eur J Pharmacol. 2001 Jan 5;411(1-2):67-70. PMID: 11137860
[28] Journal of Neuroscience 15 December 2000, 20 (24) 9104-9110
[29] Pakistan Journal of Biological Sciences, 16: 1687-1697.
DOI: 10.3923/pjbs.2013.1687.1697
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