Withania somnifera In Parkinson’s & Alzheimer’s Disease
Ashwagandha is found to support Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Both of these affect the senior citizens most and are incapacitating in one way or the other.
With Parkinson’s disease, the patient is left to great mental trauma because of the tremors and with Alzheimer’s disease, the person experiences dementia.
Withania somnifera is useful in Parkinson’s disease because of its L-dopa content and several other inherent actions. Alzheimer’s disease is relieved by positive effects of this botanical on Cholinergic receptors.
Besides above, there are other properties in traditional ayurvedic medicine that supports its efficacy in these disorders.
Ashwagandha, L-Dopa & Parkinson’s Disease:
Researchers at Government Ayurvedic College, Thiruvananthapuram, India evaluated the effects of Ayurvedic Panchakarma therapy and a herbal formulation on 18 patients of Parkinson’s disease with a mean Haen & Yahr value of 2.2.
The patients were divided in two groups. One received Ayurvedic Panchakarma therapy plus herbal formulation and another only herbal formulation. The herbal formulation was a decoction of herbal powders of Withania somnifera, Sida cordifolia, Mucuna pruriens and Hyoscyamus reticulatus in cow milk.
Only the former group that underwent both therapies showed significant improvement in activities of daily living (ADL) and on motor examination as per UPDRS rating. There was better response in tremor, bradykinesia, stiffness and cramps. Excessive salivation was found to worsen in both groups.
The milk with powdered herb was analysed for L-Dopa and it revealed 200 mg of L-dopa per dosage. So L-dopa was found to contribute to recovery in Parkinson’s patients in this ayurvedic formulation.
Ashwagandha Affecting Cholinergic Receptors & Alzheimer’s Disease:
Although some promising results have been achieved by acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, an effective therapeutic intervention in Alzheimer’s disease still remains an important goal.
Sitoindosides VII-X, and withaferin-A, isolated from aqueous methanol extract from the roots of cultivated varieties of Withania somnifera (known as Indian Ginseng), as well as Shilajit, a pale-brown to blackish brown exudation from steep rocks of the Himalaya mountain, are used in Indian medicine to attenuate cerebral functional deficits, including amnesia, in geriatric patients.
The present investigation was conducted to assess whether the memory-enhancing effects of plant extracts from Withania somnifera and Shilajit are owing to neurochemical alterations of specific transmitter systems.
Treatment with Shilajit or the defined extract from Withania somnifera affected neither GABAA and benzodiazepine receptor binding nor NMDA and AMPA glutamate receptor subtypes in any of the cortical or subcortical regions studied.
The data suggest that Shilajit and the defined extract from Withania somnifera affects preferentially events in the cortical and basal forebrain cholinergic signal transduction cascade.
The drug-induced increase in cortical muscarinic acetylcholine receptor capacity might partly explain the cognition-enhancing and memory-improving effects of extracts from Withania somnifera observed in animals and humans.
administration of defined extracts from Withania somnifera (Indian Ginseng) and
Shilajit differentially affects cholinergic but not glutamatergic and GABAergic
markers in rat brain.
Schliebs R, Liebmann A, Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S, Bigl V.
Paul Flechsig Institute for Brain Research, Department of Neurochemistry, University of Leipzig, Germany.
Ashwagandha is a mood stabilizer. It normalizes the depressed state of mind. It enthuses fresh energy. It is a good supplement for mental health.
Ashwagandha is used in Ayurvedic medicine for mental deficit (like amnesia, reduced memory and attention) in old persons.
One study from University Of Leipzig, Germany find out an increase in Acetylcholine neurotransmitter in brain of rats. Enhanced Acetylcholine receptor capacity partly explains its cognition enhancing and memory boosting effects.
Learning Enhancement & Memory Retention:
Ashwagandha, Gotu Kola and Ginkgo biloba (3 cap + 2 cap + 2 cap respectively) were found to improve learning enhancement and memory retention when taken regularly.