A new study shows that walnut extract is highly beneficial in the fight against and treatment of Parkinson’s disease.
What Is Parkinson’s?
It’s a progressive and chronic disease meaning the symptoms worsen over time. We don’t know the cause and there is currently no cure. It’s estimated that 1million people in the USA are affected by Parkinson’s.
Although we don’t know why Parkinson’s occurs, we know how it works.
Nerve cells in the substantia nigra part of the brain are damaged and die. The substantia nigra, ‘black substance’ in Latin, is so-called as it is darker than other areas of the brain. This is due to the neuromelanin and dopamine neurons located there. Parkinson’s occurs when the dopamine neurons die.
As the neurons die they release dopamine that interferes with messages to the section of brain that controls movement. Over time the effects worsen to the point that the sufferer is unable to move normally.
Primary signs of Parkinson’s are:
- Rigidity and stiffness of the limbs
- Tremors in the face, arms, legs, jaw and hands.
- Slow movements
- An unstable posture, balance and co-ordination
What Is The Current Treatment?
Treatment consists of medicines and physical therapy to treat the symptoms. Parkinson’s is diagnosed when two of the four main symptoms are present over a stretch of time.
Reactions to dopamine medications may indicate Parkinson’s along with scans and neurological tests.
What is neuro-protection?
Neuro-protection is the title for medical research and treatment that protects against neuronal degeneration (or injury) in the central nervous system. This can include illnesses such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Alzheimer’s, or stoke.
Neuro-protection aims to protect and limit cell death and dysfunction to keep the brain functioning as well as possible.
Many approaches and products with neuro-protective effects are currently under investigation aside from walnut extract studies. They include:
- Gene therapy
- Apoptosis inhibitors
- Free radical trappers
- Anti-inflammatory agents
- Neurotrophic factors
- Metal ion chelators
- Ion channel modulators
How is Walnut Extract Used?
In Chinese medicine walnut extract ‘He Tao Ren’ is used as a tonic for the kidneys, a lung ‘warmer’ and to unblock bowels by moistening the intestines. In the Western world walnuts are classed as a super-food that can lower cholesterol, improve skin conditions and are a good source of heart and blood healthy vitamin B.
What Happened In the Study?
Neuro-protective effects of walnut were tested to see if they protected against Parkinson’s.
Walnut extract used was an extract of juglandis semen better known as the English walnut seed or He Tao Ren.
Juglandis semen has been previously shown to contain bioactive properties that are beneficial to health, but to date nothing had been tested against the neurotoxins causing Parkinson’s.
Researchers tested juglandis on mouse models and neurotoxin affected cells to observe whether the extract improved their functioning.
And The Results?
The walnut extract was found to suppress neurotoxins and inhibited further damage resulting in an improvement to Parkinsons-like movement impairment.
Researchers therefore claim that juglandis semen has neuro-protective effects that could be developed further in order to treat and prevent Parkinson’s.
This research is welcomed by the Parkinson’s medical community as there are few current options and no cure. With luck and further research a cure may not be too far away.
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