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Life Extension Magazine October 2009
Reports

Are You Safe from Alzheimer’s Disease and Cognitive Decline?
Recent Clinical Study Shows Promise for Enhanced Cognitive Function within Two Weeks

By Robert Haas, MS
Grape Seed Extract and Soy Lecithin Phosphatides

Grape Seed Extract and Soy Lecithin Phosphatides

Phosphatides from soy lecithin enhance the uptake and distribution of grape seed polyphenols to targeted brain tissues. Once in the brain, grape seed proanthocyanidins trap damaging hydroxyl free radicals that can oxidize DNA and essential brain lipids.30,31 Such lipids make up the outer lipid membrane of trillions of brain cells. Grape seed extract polyphenols coupled with soy lecithin improve age-related cognitive deterioration and reduce age-related oxidative damage and cerebral amyloid deposition32 while improving blood circulation in the brain.

Wild Blueberry Extract

Blueberry anthocyanins are highly potent antioxidants that possess important neurological properties such as inducing specific changes in memory centers of the brain that result in improved cognitive performance.33,34

Wild Blueberry Extract

Studies show that blueberry extracts exert the same anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities as the whole fruit.35 Anthocyanidin molecules from such extracts have been shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, making them accessible to neurons, thereby improving memory.36 Other studies show that blueberry extracts can reverse the decline of memory impairment associated with free radical damage and beta-amyloid plaques in the brain.37-40

In one study, scientists discovered that blueberry-fed rats performed significantly better on tests of object recognition memory than a control group, suggesting that supplementation with blueberries restored youthful levels of function in the aging brain.41 Rats fed blueberries had significantly lower levels of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-kB) compared to controls. When NF-kB levels were lower, rats scored higher on memory tests. NF-kB, a protein that is linked with the buildup of damaging free radicals and infectious agents in the body, switches on the genes that produce inflammation. As we age, NF-kB expression increases, promoting systemic inflammation that has been linked with such degenerative diseases as atherosclerosis, arthritis, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ashwagandha

Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that helps prevent the breakdown of the brain neurotransmitter, acetylcholine.42 Ashwagandha has been shown to protect brain regions, such as the hippocampus, that are vital for memory function.43,44 Ashwagandha also helps modulate cortisol levels in response to stress.45

Uridine-5-Monophosphate (UMP)

UMP is a building block of phosphatidylcholine, which is essential to neuronal cell membrane function.46,47 UMP supports development of vital memory-related brain structures and improves cognitive and memory function in a variety of animal models.48 One such animal study found that UMP supplementation alleviated cognitive dysfunction that affects spatial strategies for task solving in environmentally impoverished rats.49

Additional Botanical Ingredients

Concentrated standardized extracts of hops, ginger, and rosemary suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines that have been associated with age-related cognitive decline.50,51 Rosemary extract contains carnosic acid, which provides multi-faceted protection against free radicals that can impair healthy memory function.52,53

Highlights of the Recent Israeli Clinical Trial

A recent Israeli clinical trial showed that a proprietary cognitive supplement containing synergistic neuroprotective and neurotrophic compounds can significantly improve memory and restore loss of essential mental skills in men and women 70-80 years of age.4 The study’s investigators were able to measure this remarkable improvement just two weeks after participants began cognitive nutraceutical therapy.

The Israeli study was an open-label (all study participants were aware they were taking this cocktail of multiple ingredients) clinical trial of 26 elderly male and female volunteers with memory impairment treated for 12 weeks with a proprietary cognitive nutraceutical combination (3 capsules/day). Subjects’ cognitive performance was assessed by a computerized cognitive assessment battery at baseline, following 2 weeks of treatment, and again at the 12-week termination point. This diagnostic tool included seven separate tasks found in most neuropsychological tests currently used for assessing cognition. The percent of patients scoring above the norm for this age group was determined at each time point, allowing the investigators to track the success of the proprietary cognitive supplement.

On tests of sustained attention and visuospatial learning after 12 weeks of treatment, 31% and 54% of subjects scored above the norm for their age group, compared with less than 20% and 5% at baseline. At this time, a significant enhancement was observed in subjects’ capability to complete activities of daily living. This enhancement is represented by an increase of 39% and 46% in the percent of subjects performing above the norm at the end of the study, in comparison with baseline performance. Most importantly, a preponderance of subjects showed highly improved scores on all cognitive tests over baseline, ranging from 50% on tests of executive function to 61% on tests of mental flexibility and visual learning.

Importantly, this clinical trial found that these ingredients were highly effective in improving numerous cognitive functions in almost all of the study’s participants.

Summary

We are in the midst of an epidemic of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Due to advances in life expectancy, aging Baby Boomers and their parents face unprecedented mass cognitive decline, staggering health-care costs, increased caregiver responsibilities, and profound disability if this epidemic cannot be stopped.

An abundance of scientific evidence suggests that a number of natural compounds can be used to safely and effectively stimulate brain energy metabolism, increase blood circulation, boost acetylcholine levels, and protect against inflammation and oxidative stress in the brain.

By taking advantage of recent advances in our understanding of how these natural neurotrophic and neuroprotective compounds support brain function, health-conscious adults can make informed decisions about using specific nutrients to protect their aging brains and to help correct cognitive deficits, should they occur.

Results of a recent clinical trial that treated a group of elderly men and women with a multi-nutrient cocktail suggest that daily use of the natural agents can support healthy brain function and restore essential cognitive functions known to deteriorate in Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Correction of deficits in memory, spatial relationships, and executive function were seen within two weeks of initiating the study with these various ingredients, and were further augmented by the end of the 12-week study.

These clinically tested ingredients were found to possess a safety profile that far surpasses any prescription drug currently approved to treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Moreover, its multiple synergistic ingredients can support healthy brain function as no single-agent drug approved to treat Alzheimer’s disease or dementia can do.

The data from this impressive study points to the conclusion that use of these various ingredients can benefit healthy cognitive function.

If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension® Health Advisor at 1-866-864-3027.

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