Omega-3 fatty acids, alpha lipoic acid slow decline in Alzheimer's disease patients
Tuesday, December 3, 2013. The Journal of Alzheimer's Disease published the outcome of a recent trial conducted by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University in Portland which revealed that supplementation with omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid slowed functional and cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease patients.
Lynne Shinto and colleagues randomized thirty-nine men and women with Alzheimer's disease to receive a daily regimen consisting of three grams fish oil concentrate (providing 975 milligrams EPA and 675 milligrams DHA), fish oil plus 600 milligrams R-alpha lipoic acid, or a placebo for one year. Blood tests and evaluations of cognitive and functional performance were administered before and after the treatment period.
In comparison with the placebo group, participants who received omega-3 fatty acids plus alpha lipoic acid demonstrated a lesser decline in the Mini-Mental State Examination, which is an evaluation of global cognitive function, and in the Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL) evaluation of functional ability. Those who received omega-3 fatty acids alone also showed less functional decline as indicated by IADL performance.
As possible mechanisms for omega-3 fatty acids and alpha lipoic acid, the authors remark that DHA has been shown in animal studies to help protect nerve cells, and that lipoic acid delayed cognitive decline in two studies involving Alzheimer's disease patients. The nutrients may also help reduce inflammation.
"Combining omega-3 with lipoic acid slowed both cognitive and functional decline in mild to moderately impaired Alzheimer's disease participants over 12 months, and the combination appears to be safe at the doses evaluated," the authors conclude. "A larger pilot trial is underway to further assess the benefit and potential mechanism of action of this novel combination for Alzheimer's disease."
Neuroscience 2013, held November 9-13, 2013 in San Diego, was the site of a presentation by Susan Farr, PhD of Saint Louis University of a benefit for extracts of rosemary and spearmint in an animal model of memory loss. The extracts contain antioxidants which help reduce aging-associated oxidative stress, which is believed to contribute to cognitive impairment that occurs among the aged.
Using the SAMP8 mouse model of accelerated aging, Dr Farr's team tested the effect of three different doses of two rosemary extracts containing 60% or 10% carnosic acid. They additionally tested three doses of a spearmint extract that contained 5% rosmarinic acid. Another group of mice that received an inert substance served as controls.
After 90 days of treatment, administration of three behavioral tests revealed that animals that received the highest dose of the rosemary extract containing 60% carnosic acid had the strongest memory and learning enhancement effects. Benefits were also observed in association with the rosemary extract that contained 10% carnosic acid and with the spearmint extract. A marker of oxidative stress was reduced in the brains of all animals that received rosemary or spearmint in comparison with the control group.
"We found that these proprietary compounds reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer's disease," reported Dr Farr. "This probably means eating spearmint and rosemary is good for you. However, our experiments were in an animal model and I don't know how much--or if any amount--of these herbs people would have to consume for learning and memory to improve."
"Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline," she added. "It's worth additional study."
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