Preventing Alzheimer's with Herbs

Rosemary compounds help the brain manage memory.

| July/August 1999


  • G. Ford

In medieval Europe, rosemary was much beloved, signifying friendship and remembrance. Modern science shows that this reputation has some substance—this flavorful culinary herb contains phytochemicals that have potential for treating and preventing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.

The mechanics of memory

Research shows that rosemary affects a neurotransmitter in the brain called acetylcholine that transmits nerve impulse signals from one neuron to another. Acetylcholine is crucial in the areas of the brain where memories are ­created and stored. If nerves and neurons are a sort of living wiring ­system, acetylcholine and other ­neurotransmitters are “switches” that turn on to make a connection between two nerve “wires,” then turn off after the connection is made and the information has been correctly transmitted.

After acetylcholine transmits a nerve signal, it’s broken down rapidly by an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. This cycle of breaking down and rebuilding acetylcholine prevents the neuron from “shorting out” after receiving a signal. If the acetylcholine switch stays on, the brain can’t tell where one signal ends and the next begins.



In the case of Alzheimer’s, it’s thought that acetylcholine levels are either too low or that acetylcholine is broken down too fast, so some nerve impulses carrying memory or learning information can’t be fully transmitted. In either case, slowing or inhibiting the action of acetylcholinesterase may help improve memory, and researchers are on the lookout for compounds that do this ­safely. Drugs with this action are among the few that have proven successful in Alzheimer’s treatment. Rosemary was one of the first plants identified as having the same inhibiting power.

Rosemary’s cousins



Subscribe today and save 58%

Subscribe to Mother Earth Living !

Mother Earth LivingWelcome to Mother Earth Living, the authority on green lifestyle and design. Each issue of Mother Earth Living features advice to create naturally healthy and nontoxic homes for yourself and your loved ones. With Mother Earth Living by your side, you’ll discover all the best and latest information you want on choosing natural remedies and practicing preventive medicine; cooking with a nutritious and whole-food focus; creating a nontoxic home; and gardening for food, wellness and enjoyment. Subscribe to Mother Earth Living today to get inspired on the art of living wisely and living well.

Save Money & a Few Trees!

Pay now with a credit card and take advantage of our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. You’ll save an additional $5 and get six issues of Mother Earth Living for just $19.95! (Offer valid only in the U.S.)

Or, choose Bill Me and pay just $24.95.




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter

Free Product Information Classifieds