Red Sage roots x Neurological benefits
Red sage (Salvia miltiorrhiza), also known as Danshen, is a perennial plant from eastern Asia. The health benefits of its roots has been praised for over two millenia, mainly for cardiovascular health (more about red sage & cardiovascular data HERE). However, recent scientific data indicate that red sage and its active constituents (Tanshinones & phenolic acids) can be used in a variety of health applications. Among them, the link between vascular and neurological properties were of peculiar interest. Indeed, it has been determined that tanshinones and phenolic acids have anti-inflammatory properties and vascular protection activity, leading to the assessment of their interest in vascular dementia . The health potential in this context led to futher investigations in neuroprotection and neurodegenerative diseases.
2. NEUROLOGICAL HEALTH & SALVIA MILTIORRHIZA
2.1. Neuroprotective effect of Red Sage
If diterpenoids from Salvia miltiorrhiza roots were identified as potentially neuroprotective in multiple conditions (tanshinone IIA [2-6] & cryptotanshinone [7-11]), Salvianolic acids are the molecules that have been the subject of most of the studies in this context [12-19] and more specifically in ischaemic conditions. It is however difficult to determine if the benefits in vivo are due to the neuroprotective and/or to the vascular positive impact of red sage. Anyway, the results obtained, even in a clinical context , seem really promising and invite to more investigations. Beyond "typical" neuroprotective activity in ischaemic conditions and excitotoxicity models, very interesting data were collected in high glucose context and diabetic neuropathic pain models [21-26]. Finally, another obvious pathological condition where neuroprotection is involved is Alzheimer's disease...
2.2. Red sage & Alzheimer's Disease
Due to its neuroprotective properties, Danshen was quickly identified as a potential tool in Alzheimer's disease early stages [27-28]. Experiments performed on in vitro and in vivo models, confirmed the positive impact of tanshinone IIA [29-31] and Cryptotanshinone [31-32]. Moreover, in the case of cryptotanshinone, a stimulation of the non-amyloïdogenic pathway as been identified [33-34]. In other words cryptotanshinone is stimulating the activity of alpha-secretase through PI3K activantion and hence limits the production of Aβ (the "key player" in Alzheimer's disease). In parallel, Salvianolic acids and more specifically Salvianolic acid B, has been highlighted as an inhibitor of β-secretase, leading to a diminution of Aβ production [35-37]. This activity identified in vitro, seems to have positive impact in vivo too .
2.3. Red sage & Anxiety
More surprisingly, the neurological benefits of red sage and its constituent doesn't stop at neuroprotection. The evaluation of the effect of Salvianolic acids in chronic stress and depression models highlighted some beneficial effect [39-42], probably associated with the inflammation regulation. This is proof that red sage has probably not yet revealed all its properties in a neurological context.
Health benefits combining vascular anti-inflammatory activity, global neuroprotection and modulation of Aβ poduction, is a powerful synergy that invites to investigate futher the interest of Salvia miltiorrhiza roots as "adjuvant" in a neurodegenerative context. However, it should be noticed that some active constituent like cryptotanshinone are also acetylcholinesterase inhibitors [43-44]. Therefore, a synergistic activity (drug interaction) with drugs like galanthamine (an acetylcholinesterase inhibitor typically used in the early stage of Alzheimer's disease) can't be excluded. Other potential drugs interactions can be assumed and should be taken in consideration in a clinical context.
Red sage roots is a fascinating medicinal plant with promising health benefits in the cardiovascular and the neurological area. In both cases, inflammation pathway regulation seems to be critical, opening up opportunities in other therapeutic areas like dermatology (erythema, psoriasis, etc.) and rheumatology (see futher articles).
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