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Plants with evidence-based therapeutic effects against neurodegenerative diseases

Pharmacy & Pharmacology International Journal
González MP, Benedí J, Bermejo-Bescós P, Martin-Aragon S


Neurodegenerative diseases are a group of illnesses, which affect both central and peripheral nervous system inducing physiological dysfunctions related with loss of movements and mental integrity, among others. In general, these diseases are incurable and only few drugs may alleviate the symptomatology or prolong the survival of patients. In this setting, medicinal plants might constitute adjuvant therapies with conventional pharmacotherapeutics in order to reduce or remedy the neurodegenerative illness. The aim of this review is to present the neuropharmacological activity of some phytochemicals from noteworthy medicinal plants that have been used in traditional medicine. Particularly, we will focus on medicinal plants with evidence-based therapeutic effects against neurodegenerative diseases. Crucial among these plants is Daphne Genkwa, with its active components genkwanine N and yuanhuacin, which are both able to activate the transcriptional function of the Nurr1 receptor. Another plant to be highlighted is Jatropha multifida containing apocynin, a selective inhibitor of the phagocyte NADPH oxidase. Galanthus nivalis is a remarkable plant for its content in galantamine, an inhibitor of the acetylcholinesterase enzyme and an inhibitor of the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor (nAChR) with a mechanism consistent with open-channel pore blockade. Galantamine is currently used in Alzheimer’s disease and dementias. Ginkgo biloba is known for its leaves as a natural source of flavonoids and polyphenolic compounds and it is used in the treatment of progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease. Glycine max or soybeans contain isoflavones such as genistein, daidzein and glycitein. Among these phytochemicals, genistein should be underlined for its potential to alleviate neurological symptoms present in most lysosomal storage diseases by decreasing the biosynthesis of accumulating substrates.


genkwanine N, galantamine, genistein, Ginkgo biloba, neurodegenerative diseases