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SELECTBIO Conferences Drug Discovery India 2016


Ayurvedic Nootropics for Enhanced Cognition and Protection from Neurodegenerative Diseases

Ashwini Godbole, Senior Assistant Professor, TDU-FRLHT

Optimal development and function of nervous system is vital for quality of life. Enhanced cognition and memory, adequate sensory-motor activities and absence of disease are the indications of healthy nervous system. Advancements in the scientific research have led to a very good understanding of nervous system structure, function and physiology at cellular and molecular level. However, effective healthcare solutions for cognition enhancement and management of neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are largely lacking. Thus, we need to look at novel strategies for drug discovery aimed at prevention and treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Unlike conventional bio-medicine, Ayurveda has a holistic understanding of the function of the nervous system including cognition. It offers various nootropic herbs called “Medhyarasayana” as a part of therapy specially focused on nervous system function. Some of the Medhyarasayana herbs like Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi), Convolvulus pleuricaulis (Shankhapus hpi), Centella asiatica (Mandookaparni) and Withania somnifera (Ashwagandha), are prescribed not only as neurotonics, but also as a part of treatment for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. However, scientific evidence justifying the efficacy of the herbs and the underlying mechanism of action is largely lacking. Findings from research in Neurodegenerative Diseases at TDU clinics and labs are preliminary but very positive. Integrative medicine approach including whole system Ayurveda along with yoga, physiotherapy offer relief in Parkinson’s related traits like tremors and rigidity. In the labs, we use Caenorhabditis elegans model system for studying effect and mode of action of Ayurvedic nootropics on learning-memory and neurodegeneration. Our data suggests that multiple dosage forms of Brahmi namely juice, lipid extract and alcoholic extract can protect the worms from developing the disease phenotypes like A? induced paralysis and MPP+ iodide induced degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. Brahmi juice also enhances short term memory in wild type worms. Our research would provide scientific evidence for use of Medhyarasayana in managing various clinical conditions as well as for promotion of nervous system health. Further, it would also offer leads to novel nootropic drugs to fulfil contemporary health needs.

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