11-26-2003

"Back to Brain Boosters"


Lemon Balm, Donepazil, Rivastigmine, and Galantamine
    Rostam Seddiq has written with an article describing marked improvements in Alzheimer's patients who were given the herb lemon balm. What's interesting about this study is, first, that it has now been tested and found effective for Alzheimer's patients, and second, that it may work differently from acetylcholinesterase inhibitors such as Aricept (donepazil), Exelon (rivastigmine), and Reminyl (galantamine).  (Reminyl/galantamine is a dual-action drug that stimulates nicotinic acid receptors as well as interfering with the breakdown of acetylcholine by acetylcholinesterase. Galantamine is a gladiolus-bulb extract, and is available in the United States without a prescription.) 
    Lemon balm boosts long-term recall rather than short-term memory.

    I reported on lemon balm in the September 4, 2003, Science News page, following it up with additional citations and an "editorial" a month later in  the October 4, 2003, Science News page

Sage Oil and Huperzine-A
    Sage oil has also been found to be as effective as the prescription Alzheimer's drugs, Aricept and Exelon, as has the Chinese club moss, Huperzine-A. All four of these memory boosters function solely by blocking acetylcholinesterase, slowing the breakdown of acetylcholine in the brain. 

Memantine
    Another aide memoire is memantine, available in Europe since 1992, and scheduled to appear in U. S. drugstores in January, 2004. Memantine is involved in glutamate metabolism, preventing overexcitation of neurons. Because memantine is designed to reverse pathological processes in neurodegenerative conditions, it may not be as suitable as a memory or cognitive aid in normal individuals as are some of the other substances described above.
    
Acetyl-l-Carnitine (ALC) and Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA)
    Acetyl-l-carnitine and alpha lipoic acid, identified by Dr. Bruce Ames and his associates as a profound anti-aging combination that "tune up" the mitochondria are also said to enhance mental performance.

L-Carnosine, Creatine, N-Acetyl Cysteine, DMAE (DiMethylAminoEthanol), and Ascorbyl Palmitate
    L-carnosine, creatine,, n-acetyl cysteine, DMAE, and ascorbyl palmitate (the fat-soluble form of vitamin C) are additional nutrients that also play an important role in the health of the mitochondria.

Fish Oils:  The Omega-3 Fatty Acids
    The omega-3 oils, together with other essential fatty acids, such as alpha- and gamma-linolenic acids, can have a sizable effect upon mental performance. Oxford University has been active in this research.

Other Herbs That May Boost Memory
    The universities of Newcastle and Northumbria have pioneered in the evaluation of psychoactive herbs that can boost mental performance. Among the herbs identified are:
Rosemary
Peony
Guarana
Snowdrop
Gingko biloba
Asian ginseng
Gotu kola
Lemon balm
Sage

    One of the great advantages of these kinds of agents is that they can be purchased over-the-counter, and they have logged a great deal of user time by now.

Piracetam
Brendan Alexander has written with a link to a discussion of piracetam. Piracetam was the original no÷tropic drug, developed nearly 40 years ago. Brendan says,
   " It should be noted that Piracetam isn't approved for use in the US (thus it is legal to possess and use, but selling it falls into a gray area) so it's a little difficult to find a supplier.  I recommend www.kilosports.com or www.sherwyns.com, the latter more than the former, but kilosports sells it as a powder and that can be a pain unless you have an accurate scale."

To be continued

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