Flowers for Alzheimer’s patients: Several species of iris have been found to protect against the disease
01/22/2018 // Ralph Flores // Views

Researchers have discovered a flower that can improve brain performance for patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). The results of the study were published in the African Journal of Traditional, Complementary, and Alternative Medicine.

The paper, titled Protective effect of Iris germanica L. in b-amyloid-induced animal model of Alzheimer's diseasestudied the effects of the bearded iris in treating beta-amyloid-induced cases of Alzheimer's.

Beta-amyloid peptide is a "highly toxic material" which promotes inflammation of the brain tissue. The inflammation will then trigger the activation of microglial cells, which will lead to the development of neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia.

Alzheimer's disease is one such case of dementia -- in fact, the condition is the most common form of it. Known as a progressive brain disorder, people who suffer from the condition experience a decline in their cognitive functions. The disease starts from the hippocampus, the area of the brain which governs memory, then progresses to other areas until it destroys the part of the brain that allows the execution of basic life functions.

Studies have shown that the beta-amyloid peptide is a contributor to the development of Alzheimer's disease, and experts have linked beta-amyloid buildup in the brain, called amyloid plaques, to the progression of the disease. Aside from the plaques, other characteristics of AD include the formation of fiber tangles in the brain (called neurofibrillary) and the loss of connection between neurons. (Related: Toxic proteins that cause Alzheimer’s can develop in your liver and kidneys, then migrate to the brain like cancer, shocking new study finds.)


Bearded iris, on the other hand, contains high levels of isoflavonoids, which possess antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. However, there have been no studies made on the therapeutic effects of the flower on neurodegenerative diseases.

Researchers tested their hypothesis using Wistar rats. The rats were selected and separated to identify the control and experiment group. Both groups were then induced with beta-amyloid in their hippocampus and observed. The control group, however, was treated with an extract made from bearded iris flowers, which was administered to them orally for a month. After this period, both groups were tested to check their learning ability and memory retention using a series of tests.

The results pointed that rats who were given the iris extract were able to perform better on the cognitive tests, particularly in learning and memory, than those who did not receive any. Additionally, the bearded iris was discovered to have "potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties," which help slow down the progression of Alzheimer's.

With these results, the research team determined that bearded iris is able to improve cognitive conditions under Alzheimer's. "I. germanica extract can successfully reverse spatial learning dysfunction in an experimental model of AD," they write. "Further neuro psyco-pharmacological studies are mandatory to reveal the mechanism of action of this natural remedy in the management of AD symptoms."

In the U.S., Alzheimer's disease is the sixth leading cause of death, based on the National Institute on Aging (NIA). However, the agency expects this number to be higher. Recent studies have found that AD deaths are underreported. Researchers believe that the number of AD-related deaths, considering diagnosed and undiagnosed cases, could make it the third leading cause of death.

Most people associate Alzheimer's with old age, which is not true. While there may be some lapses in memory during later years in life, people with AD considerably get worse over time. Currently, there is no cure for Alzheimer's disease.

Learn more about keeping your brain healthy by heading over to

Sources include: 1 2 3

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