How eating herbs could boost your brain

Adding a sprig of thyme or a pinch of parsley to your next home-cooked meal may do more than boost its flavor – it could boost your brain, too. New research reveals how a substance present in such herbs – apigenin – triggers formation of human brain cells and boosts connections between them.

[Parsley]

Researchers found the flavonoid apigenin – found in parsley, thyme and other plants and herbs – triggered the formation of human brain cells and strengthened their connections.

Lead author Stevens Rehen, of the D’Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR) and the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), and colleagues publish their findings in the journalAdvances in Regenerative Biology.

The team says their findings suggest apigenin – also found in red pepper, chamomile and many other plants and herbs – shows promise as a treatment for numerous neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease andschizophrenia.

Previous animal studies have shown that substances from the same flavonoid group as apigenin may benefit memory and learning, and other research has demonstrated that flavonoids have the potential to preserve and boost brain function.

For this latest study, Rehen and colleagues set out to gain a better understanding of how apigenin affects human brain cells, or neurons.

The team applied apigenin to human stem cells – cells that have the ability to develop into different cell types – in a laboratory dish.

They found that after 25 days, these stem cells transformed into neurons – an effect the researchers say was not seen in the absence of apigenin.

[Apigenin-treated neurons]

The team found apigenin-treated neurons (right) developed stronger synapses than untreated neurons (left).
Image credit: Rehen et al.

 

What is more, the researchers found that the connections that developed between the newly formed neurons – known as synapses – were stronger and more sophisticated. “Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning,” notes Rehen.

Further investigation revealed that apigenin boosts neuron formation and connections by binding to estrogen receptors (ERs), which influences the development, progression, function and plasticity of the nervous system.

While studies have shown the hormone estrogen may delay development of Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, depression and Parkinson’s, among other neurodegenerative conditions, Rehen and colleagues note the use of estrogen therapy is hampered by the risks of tumor growth and cardiovascular problems it poses.

However, the team says their findings suggest apigenin could offer a promising future treatment alternative for a number of neurodegenerative disorders.

“An alternative approach would be to mimic estrogenic-mediated positive effects by modulating specific ERs with other estrogenic compounds, such as some flavonoids classified as selective ER modulators (SERMs),” they explain.

In addition, Rehen says their study suggests the possibility of a simple brain-boosting strategy we can all adopt:

“[…] Flavonoids are present at high amounts in some foods and we can speculate that a diet rich in flavonoids may influence the formation of neurons and the way they communicate within the brain.”

Last year, Medical News Today reported on a study suggesting some further benefits of plant-derived compounds; researchers discovered compounds present in herbs such as rosemary and oregano may help fight type 2 diabetes.

Source: MNT

Energy drink addict almost died of heart attack after downing eight cans of caffeine-laced beverage

Martn Bowlng, 28, collapsed at a pub in Romford, Essex, after becoming so hooked he was spending £75 a week on high-energy sodas – now he calls them “death in a can”

MARTIN Bowling

An energy drink addict almost died of a heart attack after downing eight cans of caffeine-laced beverages.

Martin Bowling, 28, an insurance worker from Essex, became so hooked on the high-caffeine drinks he was spending £75 a week on them.

But his seven-year dependency nearly had a disastrous effect after he collapsed at a pub in Romford and was rushed to hospital.

Medics later confirmed he had suffered a heart attack and is now recovering following treatment at a specialist chest hospital in London.

Martin now calls the energy drinks, “death in a can”.

He said: “There was no warning signs, I don’t know if it hurt, I just remember hitting the floor and waking up in hospital.

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Scientists create infertile mosquitoes

mosquito

UK scientists say they have reached a milestone in the fight against malaria by creating a genetically modified mosquito that is infertile.

The plan is to wipe out the insects that spread malaria to people via bites, Nature Biotechnology reports.

Two copies of the mutant gene render the malaria-carrying female insect completely barren.

But one copy is enough for a mosquito mum or dad to pass it on to offspring.

This should perpetually spread the infertility gene throughout the population so the species dwindles or dies out.

However, the Imperial College London team say more safety tests are needed, meaning it will be a decade before the mutant mosquitoes can be released into the wild.

Cheating nature

The mutant mosquito can still carry and transmit malaria to people via bites.

But their genetic make-up means they should breed with and replace other malaria-carrying mosquitoes.

Any offspring with one copy of the gene would carry on passing the trait to future generations, while any female offspring that inherits both copies would be unable to reproduce.

mosquito eggsImage copyrightSCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Image captionMosquito eggs

In this way, the host of the malaria parasite should eventually become extinct.

In the Imperial team’s experiments with Anopheles gambiae – a breed of mosquito that is rife in sub-Saharan Africa where the bulk of human malaria deaths currently occur – the mutant mosquitoes were kept with wild-type ones so they could mate.

The gene for infertility was transmitted to more than 90% of both male and female mosquitoes’ offspring across five generations, thanks to technology called gene drive, say the researchers Dr Tony Nolan and Prof Andrea Crisanti.

Normally, one copy of a recessive gene has a 50% chance of being passed down from parents to their offspring. Gene drive – a DNA cutting and pasting machine that can manipulate genetic code as it is passed from parent to offspring – boosts this inheritance rate.

Wipe out

Some experts fear that wiping out mosquitoes may upset the natural balance of the environment.

mosquitoImage copyrightSPL

But Prof Tony Nolan said their method should not make a big dent in the overall mosquito population – just the ones that transmit malaria.

“There are roughly 3,400 different species of mosquitoes worldwide and, whileAnopheles gambiae is an important carrier of malaria, it is only one of around 800 species of mosquito in Africa, so suppressing it in certain areas should not significantly impact the local ecosystem.”

Prof David Conway, an expert in malaria at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said the work held promise: “The key achievement here is that a novel genetic drive mechanism can force these modifications to be passed on, using a trick that would not occur in nature.”

But he said more work was needed to check that the mosquitoes don’t evolve resistance to the genetic modification.

Source: BBC

Penis transplant plans for wounded US veterans

file picture of veteran

Surgeons are set to carry out the first penis transplant in the United States, in a bid to help wounded war veterans.

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New cases of bird flu in south west France

New cases of bird flu in south west France

France reported three more cases of highly pathogenic bird flu in the southwest of the country on Monday, just as the demand for foie gras is set to peak for the festive season.

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Lemon Water And How It Is Used To Lose Weight

lemon water

Most of the emails I get on daily basis are usually about how weight loss can be achieved quickly. Excessive weight gain is fast becoming a serious medical condition that our health professionals should pay attention to as many clients I get to meet are more than 100kg in weight while at the edge of been obese.

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