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Highly Accessed Review

Ayurvedic medicinal plants for Alzheimer's disease: a review

Rammohan V Rao1*, Olivier Descamps1, Varghese John1 and Dale E Bredesen12

Author Affiliations

1 The Buck Institute for Research on Aging, 8001 Redwood Boulevard, Novato, CA 94945, USA

2 Department of Neurology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA

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Alzheimer's Research & Therapy 2012, 4:22  doi:10.1186/alzrt125

Published: 29 June 2012

Abstract

Alzheimer's disease is an age-associated, irreversible, progressive neurodegenerative disease that is characterized by severe memory loss, unusual behavior, personality changes, and a decline in cognitive function. No cure for Alzheimer's exists, and the drugs currently available to treat the disease have limited effectiveness. It is believed that therapeutic intervention that could postpone the onset or progression of Alzheimer's disease would dramatically reduce the number of cases in the next 50 years. Ayurvedic medicinal plants have been the single most productive source of leads for the development of drugs, and over a hundred new products are already in clinical development. Indeed, several scientific studies have described the use of various Ayurvedic medicinal plants and their constituents for treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Although the exact mechanism of their action is still not clear, phytochemical studies of the different parts of the plants have shown the presence of many valuable compounds, such as lignans, flavonoids, tannins, polyphenols, triterpenes, sterols, and alkaloids, that show a wide spectrum of pharmacological activities, including anti-inflammatory, anti-amyloidogenic, anti-cholinesterase, hypolipidemic, and antioxidant effects. This review gathers research on various medicinal plants that have shown promise in reversing the Alzheimer's disease pathology. The report summarizes information concerning the phytochemistry, biological, and cellular activities and clinical applications of these various plants in order to provide sufficient baseline information that could be used in drug discovery campaigns and development process, thereby providing new functional leads for Alzheimer's disease.