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Could herbs and spices boost the brain?

Could herbs and spices boost the brain?

By Contributor

A substance found in parsley, thyme, chamomile and red pepper, known as apigenin, has been found to boost the brain. Find out how...

Herbs and spices that boost the brain

In a laboratory, apigenin, a substance found in parsley,thyme,chamomile and red pepper, was found to improve neuron formation and strengthen the connections between brain cells.

This is according to Brazilian researchers from D'Or Institute for Research and Education (IDOR), Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ) and Federal University of Bahia (UFBA).

Previous experiments with animals had already shown that substances from the same chemical group as the apigenin, known as flavonoids, positively affect memory and learning. Many studies highlight the potential of flavonoids to preserve and enhance brain function.

The first to show the effects on human cells

While the effectiveness of flavonoids for brain health is not an entirely new concept, this research is the first to show the positive effects of apigegin directly on human cells and the first to unravelling its mechanism.

The scientists observed that, just by applying apigenin to human stem cells in a dish they become neurons after 25 days - an effect they would not see without the substance. Moreover, the neurons that were formed made stronger and sophisticated connections among themselves after being treated with this natural compound.

Boosting learning and memory

"Strong connections between neurons are crucial for good brain function, memory consolidation and learning," says neuroscientist from IDOR and UFRJ Stevens Rehen.

Researchers believe apigenin can be used as an alternative approach on future treatments for neurodegenerative diseases as well as in neuronal differentiation strategies in laboratory.

"We show a new path for new studies with this substance," points out Rehen. "Moreover, 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.