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Phytother Res. 2011 Aug;25(8):1105-18. doi: 10.1002/ptr.3388. Epub 2011 Feb 9.

Are herbal compounds the next frontier for alleviating learning and memory impairments? An integrative look at memory, dementia and the promising therapeutics of traditional chinese medicines.

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  • 1Department of General Surgery-Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine, 1st Affiliated Hospital of Dalian Medical University, Dalian, China.


Recent advances in neuroscience have revealed a greater, in-depth understanding of the complexities associated with memory. Contemporary theories hold that an integral relationship between memory formation, stabilization and consolidation revolve around plasticity of neuronal networks. The associated requisite receptors α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA) and N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) and cellular mechanisms surrounding plasticity (posed to incite molecular functionality), also display strong correlations in the pathogenesis of dementias. When the brain is in a diseased state as a result of malignant neurotransmission (i.e. in Alzheimer's disease; AD), the homeostatic balance required for normal neuronal processes is disrupted, which leads to degeneration of neural circuitry. Present efforts to find new treatments aimed at reversing or halting neurodegeneration are immense, with increasing attention being placed on investigating various herbal medicines. A wide variety of herbal plants (i.e. Panax ginseng, Polygala tenuifolia, Acorus gramineus and Huperzia serrata, examined here within), extracts and compounds have, to date, already presented advantageous results when tested against known pathogenic markers related to AD-associated dementia. The efficaciousness of herbal medicines appears to be a modulatory effect on neurotrophins, kinases and their substrates that, in turn, initiate or take part in intracellular cascades related to memory processes.

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