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Sage improves memory, study shows

NEW research has proved that sage can improve memory, confirming centuries-old theories. British scientists have carried out the first clinical trials with healthy, young adults and found that those who had taken sage oil capsules performed significantly better in a word recall test.

The team, from the Medicinal Plant Research Centre (MPRC) at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria, have provided scientific evidence for claims dating back centuries.

They studied texts by well-known herbalists such as John Gerard, who wrote about sage in 1597, saying that 'It is singularly good for the head and brain and quickeneth the nerves and memory", and Nicholas Culpeper, whose 1652 text says "It also heals the memory, warming and quickening the senses".

People were known to take sage for memory loss centuries ago and drank teas and tinctures containing extracts of the herb.

The results of the study are published in the current edition of the academic journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behaviour *.

The Newcastle team tested 44 healthy young adults aged between 18 and 37. Some were given capsules containing sage oil and others were given placebos.

The volunteers then took part in a word recall test and tested at intervals to see how many words they could remember. Results showed that those who had taken the sage oil consistently performed better than those who had taken placebos.

Sage is being investigated as a potential treatment for Alzheimer's Disease after earlier research by the MPRC found that it inhibits an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE) which breaks down the chemical messenger acetylcholine. Alzheimers', the most common form of dementia which affects an estimated 10 million people worldwide, is accompanied by a drop in acetylcholine.

Many of the current drugs, such as donepezil, have unpleasant side effects and doctors are keen to find alternatives. No side-effects were
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Contact: Nicola Tildesley
nicola.tildesley@northumbria.ac.uk
44-191-204-8818
University of Newcastle upon Tyne
28-Aug-2003


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