Brain cells may degenerate due to many illnesses, including stroke, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Once cells are damaged, the road to recovery may be long and involve physical and medicinal therapies to repair the damage and restore brain function. Natural herbs may help in this process. Consult your health care provider before using herbs to treat brain damage.
Herbs that help repair or regenerate brain cells have potent antioxidant action. In strokes and neurodegenerative diseases, brain cells suffer from oxidative stress, which releases free radicals and further damages cells and tissues. Antioxidants are free radical scavengers and may help your body to heal.
Wormwood, or Artemisia absinthium, is an aromatic herb found throughout Europe and Asia. Traditional healers use the aerial parts to treat poor appetite, gastritis and liver inflammation. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also use it for neurodegenerative diseases, since the plant has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and cognition enhancement actions. In a study published in the June 2010 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology,” researchers found that wormwood is rich in flavonoids, and that it normalized the damage and restored the antioxidant defense enzymes in test animals with induced stroke.
Chamomile, or Matricaria recutita, is a common herbal remedy for gastrointestinal problems and stress. The active ingredients include essential oil, flavonoids and coumarins, and the dried flowers have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant actions. Chamomile may be useful in protecting brain cells after a stroke. A study published in the February 2010 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” found that chamomile is a potent free radical scavenger. It decreased oxidative stress and reduced the amount of brain damage in test animals with induced stroke.
Ginseng, or Panax ginseng, is an important herbal remedy in traditional Chinese medicine. Ginseng roots contains a group of triterpenoid saponins known collectively as ginsenosides. A study published in the November 2010 issue of the “Journal of Ethnopharmacology” found that one of them, known as ginsenoside Rb1, was especially important for brain cell repair and regeneration. Researchers found that ginsenoside Rb1 increases BDNF, or brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes the growth and recovery of brain cells. Test animals with induced stroke recovered neurological function within three to five days. Researchers state that ginseng may be a useful treatment for stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases.
- “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”; Neuroprotective Effect of Artemisia Absinthium L. on Focal Ischemia and Reperfusion-Induced Cerebral Injury; Kundan Singh Bora, et al.; June 2010
- “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”; Neuroprotective Activity of Matricaria Recutita Linn Against global Model of Ischemia in Rats; V.M. Chandrashekhar, et al.; February 2010
- “Journal of Ethnopharmacology”; Ginsenoside Rb1 Regulates the Expressions of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor and Caspase-3 and Induces Neurogenesis in Rats With Experimental Cerebral Ischemia; Xiao-Qing Gao, et al.; November 2010
Janet Contursi has been a writer and editor for more than 23 years. She has written for professional journals and newspapers, and has experience editing educational, cultural, and business articles and books. Her clients include Gale Publishers, Anaxos, Vielife and Twin Cities Wellness. Contursi earned her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, where she studied cultural anthropology, South Asian languages and culture, and art history.