Monday, 19 September 2016

Green Tea Extract May Help Those With Down Syndrome

Down Syndrome is a genetic condition caused by an extra copy of chromosome 21, and results in a range of mental and physical issues. Because it is genetic, most people do not see any hope of improving the health and abilities of the thousands who are affected by it. However, research is now suggesting that some natural medicines may help to improve the mental abilities of Down Syndrome sufferers, one of them being green tea extract.

Source: Wikimol
Conducted in Barcelona, 87 volunteers aged 16 to 34 with Down Syndrome signed up for this Phase II clinical trial. All participants were randomly assigned to receive either a decaffeinated green tea extract or a placebo for one year, and were given cognitive training alongside it. The main component of the green tea extract was epigallocatechin-3-gallate, or EGCG. After one year of treatment, functional brain scans (fMRI) showed that the volunteers who received the green tea extract had better neuronal connectivity in certain brain regions. They also scored better than the placebo group on tests measuring visual recognition memory, inhibitory control and adaptive behaviour. "Adaptive behaviour" means functional academics, so EGCG could help children with Down Syndrome perform better in school, and help adults with their jobs. Researchers suggested that these improvements could be due to EGCG's effects on an enzyme that is also active in Alzheimer's disease and other neurodegenerative conditions. EGCG may also help cognition by altering the expression of some genes, improving mitochondrial function and acting as an antioxidant. This study was the first well-powered trial to show improved academic functioning and brain changes in young adults with Down Syndrome, whether the relationship between EGCG and cognitive training was synergistic (multiplying) or additive. One can wonder, what would happen if EGCG was given to young children, or what would the effects of it be over a number of years?

The cognitive disability seen in Down Syndrome may also be partly inflammatory. Both Alzheimer's disease and Down Syndrome has been associated with much higher brain levels of interleukin-1 than in non-affected people. Compared with age-matched controls, interleukin-1 was present in up to 30 times as many glial cells, which are a type of supporting cell that offer immune protection. Life Extension Foundation has even reported that DMSO was once found to improve neurological function in people with Down Syndrome, but this seemed to be only one, old study and would need further research. It looks like, despite the genetic cause, that there is hope for those with Down Syndrome to improve their cognitive skills, so one day - or perhaps now - they do not have to miss out on many of the things that non-affected people take for granted.

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