Olive Oil Compounds Fight Alzheimer’s

Researchers have found that oleocanthal, a naturally-occurring compound found in olive oil, alters the structure of neurotoxic proteins believed to contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. This structural change impedes the proteins’ ability to damage brain nerve cells. “The findings may help identify effective preventative measures and lead to improved therapeutics in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease,” says Paul Breslin, a sensory psychobiologist at the Monell Center. Known as ADDLs, these highly toxic proteins bind within the neural synapses of the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and are believed to directly disrupt nerve cell function, eventually leading to memory loss, cell death, and global disruption of brain function. Synapses are specialized junctions that allow one nerve cell to send information another. “Binding of ADDLs to nerve cell synapses is thought to be a crucial first step in the initiation of Alzheimer’s disease. Oleocanthal alters ADDL structure in a way that deters their binding to synapses,” says William Klein, who co-led the research with Breslin. “Translational studies are needed to link these laboratory findings to clinical interventions.” Klein identified ADDLs in 1998, leading to a major shift in thinking about the causes, progression and treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. Also known as beta-amyloid oligomers, ADDLs are structurally different from the amyloid plaques that accumulate in brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Reporting on a series of in vitro studies, the Monell and Northwestern Univ. researchers found that incubation with oleocanthal changed the structure of ADDLs by increasing the protein’s size. Knowing that oleocanthal changed ADDL size, the researchers next examined whether oleocanthal affected the ability of ADDLs to bind to synapses of cultured hippocampal neurons. The hippocampus, a part of the brain intimately involved in learning and memory, is one of the first areas affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Measuring ADDL binding with and without oleocanthal, they discovered that small amounts of oleocanthal effectively reduced binding of ADDLs to hippocampal synapses. Additional studies revealed that oleocanthal can protect synapses from structural damage caused by ADDLs. An unexpected finding was that oleocanthal makes ADDLs into stronger targets for antibodies.

This action establishes an opportunity for creating more effective immunotherapy treatments, which use antibodies to bind to and attack ADDLs. “If antibody treatment of Alzheimer’s is enhanced by oleocanthal, the collective anti-toxic and immunological effects of this compound may lead to a successful treatment for an incurable disease,” says Breslin. “Only clinical trials will tell for sure.” In earlier work at Monell, Breslin used the sensory properties of extra virgin olive oil to identify oleocanthal based on a similar oral irritation quality to ibuprofen. Oleocanthal and ibuprofen also have similar anti-inflammatory properties, and ibuprofen-–like extra virgin olive oils presumably rich in oleocanthal-–is associated with a decreased risk of Alzheimer’s when used regularly. Future studies to identify more precisely how oleocanthal changes ADDL structure may increase understanding of the pharmacological actions of oleocanthal, ibuprofen, and structurally related plant compounds. Such pharmacological insights could provide discovery pathways related to disease prevention and treatment. news from laboratoryequipment.com – Olive oil is a fruit oil obtained from the olive (Olea europaea; family Oleaceae), a traditional tree crop of the Mediterranean Basin. The wild olive tree originated in Asia Minor and spread from there as far as southern Africa, Australia, Japan and China. It is commonly used in cooking, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, and soaps and as a fuel for traditional oil lamps. Olive oil is used throughout the world, but especially in the Mediterranean. Olive oil is composed mainly of the mixed triglyceride esters of oleic acid and palmitic acid and of other fatty acids, along with traces of squalene (up to 0.7%) and sterols (about 0.2% phytosterol and tocosterols). The composition varies by cultivar, region, altitude, time of harvest, and extraction process. Olive oil contains a group of related natural products with potent antioxidant properties which give extra-virgin unprocessed olive oil its bitter and pungent taste and which are esters of tyrosol and hydroxytyrosol, including oleocanthal and oleuropein. Evidence from epidemiological studies suggests that a higher proportion of monounsaturated fats in the diet is linked with a reduction in the risk of coronary heart disease.

This is significant because olive oil is considerably rich in monounsaturated fats, most notably oleic acid. In the United States, producers of olive oil may place the following health claim on product labels: Limited and not conclusive scientific evidence suggests that eating about 2 tbsp. (23 g) of olive oil daily may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease due to the monounsaturated fat in olive oil. To achieve this possible benefit, olive oil is to replace a similar amount of saturated fat and not increase the total number of calories you eat in a day. This decision was announced November 1, 2004, by the Food and Drug Administration after application was made to the FDA by producers. Similar labels are permitted for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts and hemp seed. There is a large body of clinical data to show that consumption of olive oil can provide heart health benefits such as favourable effects on cholesterol regulation and LDL cholesterol oxidation, and that it exerts antiinflamatory, antithrombotic, antihypertensive as well as vasodilatory effects both in animals and in humans. But some clinical evidence suggests that it is olive oil’s phenolic content, rather than its fatty acid profile, that is responsible for at least some of its cardioprotective benefits. For example, a clinical trial published in 2005 compared the effects of different types of olive oil on arterial elasticity. Test subjects were given a serving of 60 g of white bread and 40 ml of olive oil each morning for two consecutive days. The study was conducted in two stages. During the first stage, the subjects received polyphenol-rich oil (extra virgin oil contains the highest amount of polyphenol antioxidants). During the second phase, they received oil with only one fifth the phenolic content. The elasticity of the arterial walls of each subject was measured using a pressure sleeve and a Doppler laser. It was discovered that after the subjects had consumed olive oil high in polyphenol antioxidants, they exhibited increased arterial elasticity, while after the consumption of olive oil containing fewer polyphenols, they displayed no significant change in arterial elasticity. It is theorized that, in the long term, increased elasticity of arterial walls reduces vascular stress and consequentially the risk of two common causes of death—heart attacks and stroke. This could, at least in part, explain the lower incidence of both diseases in regions where olive oil and olives are consumed on a daily basis. Another health benefit of olive oil seems to be its property to displace omega-6 fats, while not having any impact on omega-3 fats. This way, olive oil helps to build a more healthy balance between omega-6 fats and omega-3 fats.  Unlike the high amount of animal fats typical to the American diet, olive oil lowers cholesterol levels in the blood.

It is also known to lower blood sugar levels and blood pressure. In addition to the internal health benefits of olive oil, topical application is quite popular with fans of natural health remedies. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the preferred grade for moisturizing the skin, especially when used in the oil cleansing method (OCM). OCM is a method of cleansing and moisturizing the face with a mixture of extra virgin olive oil, castor oil (or another suitable carrier oil) and a select blend of essential oils. Olive oil is also used by some to reduce ear wax buildup. Olive oil can be used as an effective shaving oil to shave facial and other body hair giving results that are equivalent to expensive commercial products. Studies on mice showed that application of olive oil immediately following exposure to UVB rays has a preventive effect on the formation of tumors and skin cancer. Jeanne Calment, who holds the record for the longest confirmed lifespan, reportedly attributed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed into her skin. Olive oil contains the monounsaturated fat, oleic acid which has antioxidants such as vitamin E and carotenoids, and oleuropein, a chemical that prevents the oxidation of LDL particles. It is these properties that are thought to contribute to the health benefits of olive oil. As they are the least processed forms of olive oil, extra virgin or virgin olive oil have more monounsaturated fat than olive oil. These types of olive oil contain more polyphenols, leading to a healthier heart and lower “bad” cholesterol. Research indicates olive oil prevents peptic ulcers and is effective in treatment of peptic ulcer disease, and may be a factor in preventing cancer. Olive oil is unlikely to cause allergic reactions, and as such is used in preparations for lipophilic drug ingredients. It does have demulcent properties, and mild laxative properties, acting as a stool softener. It is also used at room temperature as an ear wax softener. Olive oil is also a potent blocker of intestinal contractions, and can be used to treat excessive Borborygmus. Oleocanthal from olive oil is a non-selective inhibitor of cyclooxygenase (COX) similar to classical NSAIDs like ibuprofen. It has been suggested that long-term consumption of small quantities of this compound from olive oil may be responsible in part for the low incidence of heart disease associated with a Mediterranean diet. Olive oil is also used in soap making and as lamp oil. It is also good for the management of pain. it is also a good natural anti-inflammatory agent.


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