Nov 15, 2013 04:26 PM EST
By administering extracts from special antioxidants in spearmint and rosemary to mice, researchers have demonstrated the rodents exhibit improved memory and learning skills, a find they say could lead to better treatments in humans.
Susan Farr, a research professor geriatrics at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, said the proprietary compounds in the extracts “reduce deficits caused by mild cognitive impairment, which can be a precursor to Alzheimer’s disease.”
“This probably means eating spearmint and rosemary is good for you,” Farr said. “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. In other words, I’m not suggesting that people chew more gum at this point.”
For her study, Farr tested a novel antioxidant-based ingredient made from rosemary extract on mice experiencing age-related cognitive decline. She found a high dose of rosemary extract compound was effective in improving learning and memory in three tested behaviors. A lower dose of the compound improved memory in two of the behavioral tests, as did a compound made from spearmint extract.
Mice administered the extract compounds also showed signs of reduced oxidative stress, which is considered a hallmark of age-related decline in the region of the brain that controls learning and memory.
“Our research suggests these extracts made from herbs might have beneficial effects on altering the course of age-associated cognitive decline,” Farr said. “It’s worth additional study.”
Farr presented her research this week to the 32,000 attendees of the Neuroscience 2013 meeting in San Diego, Calif.
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