Publishing in the aging cell journal, a group of researcher from various institutions in Shanghai recently conducted a study looking at the affects of the Chinese herb Shi Chang Pu (Sweetflag Rhizome, Rhizoma Acori tatarinowii). This particular herb is found in many Chinese herbal formulas are is used for a range of brain related issues including stroke recovery, anxiety, insomnia, depression, and degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's. Examples of formulas which generally include Shi Chang Pu are Gan Mai Da Zao Wan, An Shen Bu Xin Wan and Zhong Feng Hui Chun Wan.
In their study, researchers looked closely at one active constituent of Shi Chang Pu, asarones, and the role in modulating neural progenitor cells (NPC). Progenitor cells are part of the process that allows for degenerated cells to be regenerated and finding ways to stimulate this process will likely aid a range of degenerative conditions including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, stroke and generally age related decline.
Researchers found that oral administration of Shi Chang Pu appeared to enhance NPC proliferation and neurogenesis in the hippocampi of adult and aged mice in a Alzheimer's Disease population. The herb also appeared to support the use of NPCs by the body that were cultured in vitro.
The research team concluded that Shi Chang Pu and the active extract, asarones, through oral administration could "serve as preventive and regenerative therapeutic agents to promote neurogenesis against age-related neurodegeneration and neurodegenerative disorders."
Another animal study regarding a traditional herbal decoction for degenerative conditions appears to validate this conclusion as well. As covered in the South China Morning Post in the article "Traditional 'smart soup' Shows Promise in fighting Alzheimer's" - they discuss an herbal tea created from Shi Chang Pu, Yuan Zhi (), and Fu Shen the part around the root of Poria/Fu Ling. One of the researchers on the study stated that the results were very encouraging but more work needed to be done. However, the article presents his the same researchers view on the history of the formulas - "Zhong Jian, a Chinese medicine doctor in Guangdong, said smart soup had been around for hundreds of years and was commonly prescribed to patients with brain diseases such as Alzheimer's. The first official record of it appeared in Gu Jin Yi Jian, a medical book published in 1576. "Chinese medicine has many formulas with good clinical results but poor recognition by Western medical society, because we don't know how to explain it in the language of modern science,"
Hopefully more studies will be done to further validate this researchers, particular as Alzheimer's is an increasing problem globally.
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