Sage Could Make You a Sage

Study found the herb improved memory on word recall tests

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FRIDAY, Aug. 29, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- A centuries-old belief that sage improves memory seems to be confirmed in a British study published in the current issue of Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour.

The finding may have implications for efforts to treat Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists from the Medical Plant Research Centre (MPRC) at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria found that healthy, young adults who took sage oil performed much better in a word recall test than those given a placebo.

The study included 44 women and men between the ages of 18 and 37. They were given either capsules containing sage oil or a placebo and then tried the word recall test. The people who took the sage oil consistently had better results than those who took the placebo.

Earlier research by MPRC scientists found sage inhibits an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down the chemical messenger acetylcholine. People with Alzheimer's experience a decline in acetylcholine.

The MPRC scientists believe it may be a combination of chemicals in sage oil that affect AChE. Those oils may also have antioxidant, estrogenic and anti-inflammatory properties, which are also considered beneficial in Alzheimer's therapy.

The nerve and memory benefits of sage were extolled by noted herbalists of the 1500s and 1600s and, centuries ago, people took sage for memory loss.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about memory loss.

SOURCE: University of Newcastle upon Tyne, news release, Aug. 28, 2003
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