Inflammation, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Plant Chemicals

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Inflammation and Disease

Researchers are discovering that inflammation may be at the root of diseases as diverse as heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, asthma, inflammatory bowel disease, autoimmune disease, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease

Alzheimer’s disease  is the most prevalent form of dementia, but the exact biological mechanism of this disease is not fully understood. Alzheimer’s disease  is highly correlated with neuro-inflammation and oxidative stress in brain causing neuronal loss and cognitive impairment.

Nuclear factor of activated B-cells (NF-κB) is involved in physiological inflammatory processes and thus representing a promising target for inflammation therapy for inflammatory diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Phytochemicals (plant alkaloids or botanicals) are able to interfere with the NF-κB pathway.

These phytochemicals inhibit the phosphorylation or the ubiquitination of signalling, which is like a ‘start inflammation tag’. Blocking this process  inhibits  the degradation of IκB and  NF-κB is unable to go into the nucleus  of the cells or bind to DNA to switch on genes which produce  pro-inflammatory cytokines.

Pro inflammatory cytokines include tumor necrosis factor, interleukins, lymphokines, monokines, interferons, colony stimulating factors, and transforming growth factors produced by monocytes, T-cells, platelets, and endothelial cells. These molecules are part of the body’s defences and are supposed to be for acute inflammation or ‘short term use’.

Problems and disease arises when the levels of cytokines rise when there are no ‘invaders’ in body or stay elevated for long periods of time (chronic systemic inflammation).

A list of some plant molecules have been shown anti-inflammatory effects in Alzheimer’s  models in vitro as well as in vivo.

  • Curcumin – Tumeric
  • Resveratrol – Coloured berry skins
  • Pterostilbene –  Related to resveratrol various Vaccinium berries
  • Punicalagin – Pomegranates and bush willow
  •  Macranthoin G – Eucommia ulmoides bark  (small tree native to China), is a derivative from chlorogenic acid methyl ester and caffeic acid
  •  Salidroside – glucoside of tyrosol found in the plant Rhodiola rosea.
  •  4-O-methylhonokiol – It is found in the bark of Magnolia grandiflora
  •  lycopene– Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes
  • Obovatol – Isolated from the bark of Magnolia obovata
  •  Gallic acid a type of phenolic acid, found in gallnuts, sumac, witch hazel, tea leaves, oak bark
  •  Galantamine – bulbs and flowers of Galanthus snowdropdaffodils  .[
  • Glaucocalyxin B, –  aerial parts of Rabdosia japonica
  • Tetrandrine –  Stephania tetrandra S Moore,[1] and other Chinese and Japanese herbs
  •  Berberine – Barberry and goldenseal
  • Oridonin – Chinese medicinal herb Rabdosia rubescens
  • Anatabine –Solanaceae family, including tobacco, tomatoes, and eggplants
  •  Tanshinone IIA – Root of Salvia miltiorrhiza Bunge
  •  Artemisinin –  Artemisia annua, sweet wormwood
  • Dihydroasparagusic acid – Dihydroasparagusic acid is the reduced form of asparagusic acid, from Asparagus plants.
  • Geniposide – present in fruit of Gardenia jasminoides.(related to coffee)
  •  Xanthoceraside – from the husks of Xanthoceras sorbifolia Bunge
  • 1,8-cineole – 1,8-Cineole (11, eucalyptol) is an achiral aromatic component of many plants, including Salvia and Eucalyptus leaves
  • Paeoniflorin –  Derived from Paeonia lactiflora

The doses contained in plants alone is not enough for therapeutic effects and because plants contain lots of other compounds, some of which are harmful (oxalates or lectins), toxix or block the absorption of mineral. In addition some plants / fruits contain a lot of sugar so it undoes all the anti inflammatory effects.

In my view it is better to seek out the pure botanical rather than eat the whole plant. In the correct dose these compounds may help with inflammation and neurodegenerative disease, how ever more is not better as they can be harmful at higher doses

Seo EJ, Fischer N, Efferth T Phytochemicals as inhibitors of NF-κB for treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Pharmacol Res. 2018



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