Sunday, 22 November 2015

Treating Alzheimer's Disease with daffodils Challenge: A natural source for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease Natural inspiration: Daffoidil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus), Snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis)

Fields of daffodils growing in the heart of the Black Mountains, Wales may soon yield a cost effective drug, galantamine, for use in the treatment of the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease.  Galantamine is not synthetic compound but rather an extract of theDaffodils growing in the Black Mountains, Wales © Alzeimhumble daffodil (Narcissus pseudonarcissus) or snowdrop (Galanthus nivalis). 

Although these plants have been used as traditional medicine since ancient times it has only recently become a commercial proposition.  In the Odyssey, Homer is thought to have described Odysseus as using the snowdrop to clear his mind1“...The root was black, while the flower was as white as milk; the gods call it Moly...”2.  Galantamine was first extracted from the snowdrop in the early 1950’s after a Bulgarian pharmacologist saw remote villagers rubbing their forehead with the plant leaves and bulbs.  It was first officially approved for use as a drug in Bulgaria in 19582.

Galantamine is present in the leaves and bulbs of all species and varieties of daffodils and is considered to protect the plant from grazing animals and microbial infection3.  However, galantamine is found at varying levels in different daffodil varieties3 with only certain varieties containing significant amounts to be useful on a commercial scale4.  Galantamine levels in the plant also vary with environmental conditions and with stage of growth4.  Trials to assess this variation in different varieties of daffodil began in Wales in 2006.  Results showed that galantamine was generally found in much higher levels in the daffodils grown at 1,400 feet in the Black Mountains compared with the same varieties planted in Pembrokeshire at sea level5.  Subsequently, Alzeim, a company that researches, develops, and produces drugs for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease, from Talgarth near Brecon, have planted 120 acres (48ha) of carefully selected daffodil varieties in the Black Mountains of Powys with a view to bringing this product into commercial production in Wales6. READ MORE-http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-5721

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