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Extract From Hibiscus Improves Cognitive Impairment in Alzheimer’s Disease

Hibiscus is not only an ornamental plant but also has good edible and medicinal value. Hibiscus tea can warm the body in winter and can also help reduce weight and lessen the risk of cardiovascular disease. A recent Korean study shows that gossypetin isolated from the flowers and the calyx of hibiscus can effectively improve the cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s patients.

The famous medical classic “Compendium of Materia Medica” mentioned that the flower of hibiscus has the effects of reducing swelling, diuresis, and removing dampness and heat; the bark of hibiscus tree can kill insects and treat ringworm; it can treat cough, hemorrhoid swelling, and pain embolism.

On Oct. 21 this year, Professor Kyong-Tai Kim from the Department of Life Sciences at Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea and others published a research paper on the website of the National Library of Medicine. In their study, they found that gossypetin in the hibiscus can activate microglia, the immune cells in the brain. The cells clear beta-amyloid (Aβ) from the brain, improving cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s disease.

Kim said that microglia continuously remove various wastes in the brain, including damaged or dead neurons and Aβ, and through phagocytosis of Aβ, microglia prevent the accumulation of Aβ plaque in the brain, thereby improving the Cognitive impairment caused by Alzheimer’s disease. However, in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients, chronic exposure to Aβ makes microglia become exhausted, which reduces their phagocytic activity against Aβ.

Since microglia play an important role in Aβ clearance, enhancing microglial phagocytic activity against Aβ is a promising target for AD treatment. In the search for a new Alzheimer’s treatment without serious side effects, the research team focused on gossypetin, a flavonoid found in hibiscus.

The researchers treated mice with Alzheimer’s disease with gossypetin by intragastric administration for 13 weeks and found that the impaired memory and cognitive abilities of the mice almost returned to normal levels. In addition, they found that multiple types of Aβ aggregates were reduced in the brains of the mice. These aggregates are commonly found in the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients.

The researchers also performed single-cell RNA-sequencing studies that showed that gossypetin blocked the genes associated with gliosis, which promotes chronic inflammation while increasing the expressed genes associated with Aβ phagocytosis.

The next step for the research team is to conduct relevant clinical trials and develop new methods for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease using gossypetin. Provide patients with safe and affordable medicine.

The study was simultaneously published in the “life-sciences literature” and “Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy.”

Hibiscus and Cardiovascular Disease

In addition, in June 2022, a paper published on the website of Oxford Academic showed that regular consumption of hibiscus sabdariffa could reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The researchers searched the Web of Science, Cochrane, Ovid (Medline, Embase, AMED), and Scopus databases for experimental paper reports on the use of hibiscus to intervene in adult blood lipids, blood pressure and fasting blood glucose levels, extracted data from them, and included 17 items test analysis. It was found that hibiscus had a stronger effect on systolic blood pressure than placebo, and the reduction in blood pressure was similar to that of drug treatment; not only that, but hibiscus also significantly reduced the level of low-density lipoprotein. Regular consumption reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.

The Faculty of Medicine and Health of the University of Leeds, UK, jointly completed the survey study.

Junko Tokunaga, a doctor of medicine at the University of Tokyo, Japan, said in an interview with The Epoch Times on Dec. 13, “hypertension is a major risk factor for cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases. It is known that anthocyanins in fruits and vegetables have anthocyanin that is rich in the calyx of the hibiscus flower, which has an antioxidant effect.”

She said Alzheimer’s is the most prevalent neurodegenerative disease, and many drugs fail clinical trials because of adverse side effects or lack of efficacy. If the extract of hibiscus is used in humans to resist Alzheimer’s disease, it is definitely great news for patients.

Ellen Wan

Ellen Wan has worked for the Japanese edition of The Epoch Times since 2007.

Weber Lee

Nathan Amery

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