A powerful class of antioxidants used in some traditional alternative medicinal practices has been found to counteract the decline in brain cell activity seen in Parkinson’s disease patients in new research that opens the door to a potent new treatment for the neurological disorder.
Researchers at the Medical College of Georgia found that synthetic “triterpenoids” – antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory compounds found in medicinal plants and herbs used to heal wounds and prevent scars – blocked development of Parkinson's in laboratory tests involving human and mouse brain cells.
MCG neuroscientist Dr. Bobby Thomas and his colleagues were able to block the death of dopamine-producing brain cells that occurs in Parkinson's by using the drugs to bolster a natural antioxidant and inflammation fighter known as Nrf2.
Thomas, who reported the team’s findings in the journal Antioxidants & Redox Signaling, noted Nrf2 is significantly decreased in Parkinson's patients. The researchers tested a number of antioxidants and found triterpenoids effectively boosted levels of Nrf2.