Natural Medicines: What Is Their Role in Parkinson's Disease Management?
Researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India studied an array of natural medicinal products with beneficial effects on mitochondria or redox stabilization.
Ten million people worldwide suffer from Parkinson’s disease (PD) and that number continues to grow exponentially.
PD is a progressive, neurodegenerative disease believed to destroy dopaminergic neurons via mitochondria dysfunction and oxidative stress. Current standard treatment for PD includes levodopa to increase dopamine levels and carbidopa to reduce levodopa's side effects. However, these medications do not restore neuronal function and are not curative.
Researchers from Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, India studied an array of natural medicinal products with beneficial effects on mitochondria or redox stabilization. They examined each medicines’ neuroprotective potential in the treatment of PD. The products discussed were included because they are minimally toxic.
Bacopa monnieri (Bm) is an herb that contains antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, neuroprotective, and memory enhancing properties. Bm extract has been found to improve cognitive function and movements in animal studies.
Black tea contains theaflavin, which has antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. Black tea can boost the effects of standard PD therapy when supplemented immediately before treatment.
Cameillia sinensis (Cs) is a tea with some antioxidant properties. Green tea is made from Cs leaves and has many benefits in PD.
Curcuma longa (Cl), also known as turmeric, is an herb that has been used since ancient times for many purposes. In the treatment of PD, turmeric has been proven to protect against aging/death of brain cells, behavior changes, and damage to the blood brain barrier.
Gingko biloba (Gb) extract proved neuroprotective, reduced behavior deficits, and improved locomotor activity in mice trials. It may also provide protection from levodopa’s toxic side effects and easily crosses the blood brain barrier.
Mucuna pruriens (Mp) seeds contain levodopa and anti-inflammatory properties. The levodopa in Mp seeds has a more rapid onset of action and fewer side effects than its pharmaceutical counterpart.
Withania somnifera (Ws), or Indian ginseng, is a natural plant with antioxidant, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and memory enhancing properties. Ws improved locomotor function in mice via oxidation stabilization methods.
Insufficient evidence is available to support using these natural medicines as alternative PD treatments. Although they may slow disease progression, PD remains incurable.
The researchers concluded that some of these products, specifically Mp and Bm extract, may be useful adjuncts in PD treatment, but more trials are needed to compare the products directly. However, their research demonstrated that mitochondrial dysfunction and redox stabilization are appropriate targets for further research in the race to find a cure for PD.
<span style="font-family:arial,helvetica,sans-serif">Srivastav S, Fatima M, Mondal AC. Important medicinal herbs in Parkinson's disease pharmacotherapy. <em>Biomed Pharmacother</em>. 2017 Jun 6;92:856-863. doi:10.1016/j.biopha.2017.05.137. [Epub ahead of print]</span>