Medicinal plant Yerba santa may treat Alzheimer's: Study

Medicinal plant Yerba santa may treat Alzheimer's: Study
Alzheimer's disease causes a progressive loss of brain cells that leads to memory loss and the decline of other thinking skills. © Shutterstock

A new study published in the journal Redox Biology has discovered neuro-protective and anti-inflammatory chemical that may help in the treatment for Alzheimer's disease.

Written by ANI |Published : February 21, 2019 8:35 PM IST

A new discovery that found neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory chemical in a native California shrub may lead to a treatment for Alzheimer's disease based on a compound found in nature. The research appeared in the journal Redox Biology. Speaking about it, study author Pamela Maher said, Alzheimer's diseaseis a leading cause of death in the United States," adding, And, because age is a major risk factor, researchers are looking at ways to counter aging's effects on the brain.

Our identification of sterubin as a potent neuroprotective component of a native California plant called Yerba santa (Eriodictyon californicum) is a promising step in that direction."Native California tribes, which dubbed the plant "holy herb" in Spanish, have long used Yerba santa for its medicinal properties. Devotees brew its leaves to treat respiratory ailments, fever and headaches; and mash it into a poultice for wounds, sore muscles and rheumatism. The researchers applied a screening technique used in drug discovery to a commercial library of 400 plant extracts with known pharmacological properties.

Through the screen, the lab identified a molecule called sterubin. The researchers tested sterubin and other plant extracts for their impact on energy depletion in mouse nerve cells, as well as other age-associated neurotoxicity and survival pathways directly related to the reduced energy metabolism, accumulation of misfolded, aggregated proteins and inflammation seen in Alzheimer's. They found that Sterubin had a potent anti-inflammatory impact on brain cells known as microglia.

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It was also an effective iron remover--potentially beneficial because iron can contribute to nerve cell damage in aging and neuro-degenerative diseases. Overall, the compound was effective against multiple inducers of cell death in the nerve cells, according to Maher. Speaking about it, Maher said, "This is a compound that was known but ignored," adding, "Not only did sterubin turn out to be much more active than the other flavonoids in Yerba santa in our assays, it appears as good as, if not better than, other flavonoids we have studied."Next, the lab plans to test sterubin in an animal model of Alzheimer's, then determine its drug-like characteristics and toxicity levels in animals.

Source: ANI