Herbal Medicine with scientific evidence behind its use

Sage, Rosemary & Melissa to boost memory

 Phytomedicine

Available online 18 August 2017

A randomised double-blind placebo-controlled pilot trial of a combined extract of sage, rosemary and melissa, traditional herbal medicines, on the enhancement of memory in normal healthy subjects, including influence of age

Abstract

Objective

To evaluate for the first time the effects of a combination of sage, rosemary and melissa (Salvia officinalis L., Rosmarinus officinalis L. and Melissa officinalis L.; SRM), traditional European medicines, on verbal recall in normal healthy subjects. To devise a suitable study design for assessing the clinical efficacy of traditional herbal medicines for memory and brain function.

Methods

Forty-four normal healthy subjects (mean age 61 ± 9.26y SD; m/f 6/38) participated in this study. A double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled pilot study was performed with subjects randomised into an active and placebo group. The study consisted of a single 2-week term ethanol extract of SRM that was chemically-characterised using high resolution LC-UV-MS/MS analysis. Immediate and delayed word recall were used to assess memory after taking SRM or placebo (ethanol extract of Myrrhis odorata (L.) Scop.). In addition analysis was performed with subjects divided into younger and older subgroups (≤ 62 years mean age n = 26: SRM n = 10, Placebo n = 16; ≥ 63 years n = 19: SRM n = 13, Placebo n = 6).

Results

Overall there were no significant differences between treatment and placebo change from baseline for immediate or delayed word recall. However subgroup analysis showed significant improvements to delayed word recall in the under 63 year age group (p < 0.0123) with Cohen’s effect size d = 0.92. No adverse effects were observed.

Conclusion

This pilot study indicates that an oral preparation of SRM at the selected dose and for the period of administration is more effective than a placebo in supported verbal episodic memory in healthy subjects under 63 years of age. Short- and long- term supplementation with SRM extract merits more robust investigation as an adjunctive treatment for patients with Alzheimer’s disease and in the general ageing population. The study design proved a simple cost effective trial protocol to test the efficacy of herbal medicines on verbal episodic memory, with future studies including broader cognitive assessment.

Come and Meet our St John’s Wort Serpent

Our wondrous St John’s Wort Serpent has just arrived.  Hypericum perforatum is a plant with holes in its leaves.  It acquired its common English name, St John’ s wort (SJW), as it flowers in midsummer (this Sunday) on the day of John the Baptist.  So it is truly a holy plant!  The ancients believed the plant would exorcise the devil – that was the metaphor used when people felt depressed – they thought they were possessed.  So the old story of the magic has kept the medicinal use of the plant going all these years up to modern times when SJW is used as an antidepressant herbal medicine.

SJW is used clinically in modern botanical medicine today in the UK to treat depression. There are many clinical trials indicating it as effective as antidepressant drugs like prozac for mild to moderate depression, but without the side-effects.  A recent review suggests it “has a very favourable safety profile, with adverse event rates on the same level as placebo and lower than that of synthetic antidepressants, in randomised controlled trials. It may therefore also be an option for patients who do not tolerate other antidepressant drugs. Patients with polydrug treatment should nevertheless use the drug with caution, due to its potential for interactions.”

The new sculpture thus represents that fascinating bridge between magic and medicine. It is made by our sculptor in residence, John Rutherford.

We are always open to suggestions for new outdoor artworks, and artists.  The next may be an image of a plant that has given us a modern drug, like the foxglove, willow or opium poppy.  If people had isolated and identified a single potent chemical from SJW – which they haven’t yet, only a variety of partly active ones – the plant might have provided a new and safer antidepressant drug.

The Dilston Physic Garden exists to spread the word on such great plant potentials for new, safe and effective therapies.