Nature can also help with neurodegenerative diseases. We are talking in particular of essential oils, products that, more than others, contain the true essence and healing power of plants. Well, some essential oils are anti-aging and neuroprotective, helping to prevent or slow down diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This emerges from a very recent review published in the journal Molecules (Rashed et al, Molecules, 2021). But let's try to understand what these essential oils are and how they work.
Sage essential oil
Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter that promotes communication between neurons. In the case of Alzheimer's, especially in the early stages, the drugs used are acetylcholinesterase inhibitors, that is, capable of inhibiting the enzyme that degrades, and thus makes unusable, acetylcholine in the complex body mechanisms. Well, it has been observed that sage essential oil is able to act, through olfactory pathways, as an inhibitor of acetylcholinesterase. Not only that, there is also another enzyme that, in a healthy brain, works as a support for acetylcholinesterase in regulating the acetylcholine transmitter, butyrylcholinesterase. In the case of Alzheimer's it has been observed that the role of this enzyme increases. Therefore, the butyrylcholinesterase enzyme must also be taken into consideration for any treatments. Sage essential oil is one of the few essential oils that can also inhibit this enzyme.
Cinnamon essential oil
Cinnamon essential oil is able to inhibit up to 78% of the acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase enzymes, demonstrating an aid in the prevention of Alzheimer's. Not only that, cinnamon essential oil is the only essential oil that is also able to protect against Parkinson's disease, counteracting the formation of protein aggregates or fibrils.
Lemon essential oil
Lemon essential oil has been shown to reduce the acetylcholinesterase enzyme. Not only that, inhaling this essential oil has allowed to increase the indices regarding brain plasticity and synapse health.
Essential oils of the Lamiaceae family
Carvacrol is an active ingredient found mainly in essential oils extracted from plants of the Lamiaceae family, such as oregano and thyme. Carvacrol acts on the neuronal system, inhibiting the acetylcholinesterase enzyme but also showing anxiolytic and antidepressant activity.