Ayurvedic plants enhance resistance to stress and depression
summary: Researchers have discovered that chronic stress leads to depression-like behaviors in fruit flies, Drosophila melanogaster, affecting their motivation and activity.
The study found that Ayurvedic medicinal plants, especially Withania somnifera (ashwagandha) and Centella asiatica, can improve flies’ ability to resist chronic stress when used preventatively.
Interestingly, the team identified chlorogenic acid, found in Centella asiatica and other plants such as coffee beans, as a key anti-stress substance.
This research highlights the potential of traditional medicinal plants in treating stress-related disorders and sheds light on biological mechanisms of stress resistance.
- Chronic stress led to depression-like behaviors in fruit flies, but preventive treatment with Ayurvedic plants improved their resilience.
- The study identified chlorogenic acid found in Centella asiatica as an effective anti-stress component, and it also targets calcineurin protein phosphatase in flies.
- This research provides insight into the biological mechanisms of stress and potential natural treatments, linking Ayurveda and modern neuroscience.
source: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
Chronic exposure to stress can trigger depressive-like disorders that manifest as a lack of motivation – even in fruit flies. Black-bellied fruit fly. As a result, insects show less courtship behavior, are less interested in stopping to eat sweet food items, and are less willing to climb a gap in the experimental setup.
However, traditional medicinal plants can – to some extent – alleviate some of the associated symptoms, note researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) in Germany in collaboration with the BENFRA Botanical Supplements Research Center in Portland, Oregon.
Researchers have shown that two plants used in Ayurvedic medicine can improve the ability to resist chronic stress when used prophylactically in flies. Despite their stressed state, they no longer display behavior consistent with depression.
Research papers on their study of the two plant materials have been published in Nutrients.
Plants that contain bioactive components can help the body deal with stress
It was used by a JGU research group led by Professor Roland Strauss Black-bellied fruit fly A model for analyzing the basic mechanisms involved in adaptability to stress and the effects of stress on the nervous system.
“Chronic stress can lead to depression-like states also in Drosophila, and these become evident in changes in their behavior,” Strauss explained. In this more recent research context, his group has collaborated with the BENFRA Botanical Supplements Research Center in the USA. The center researches plants that enhance neuroplasticity and function in aging.
The researchers in Mainz are focusing on testing plant extracts and natural materials known to be used in traditional Asian medicine and also marketed as nutritional supplements.
The idea is that some plants contain above average amounts of active ingredients or substances that in themselves show particularly high levels of biological activity. These so-called adaptogens can help our bodies adapt to increased physical and emotional stress.
“The advantage over conventional medicines may be that medicinal plants contain a mixture of different active plant substances that act on different sites of the stress axis,” said Helen Holvoet, a PhD candidate in Professor Strauss’s team and lead author of the two papers.
“Because they have a synergistic anti-stress effect, they may cause fewer unwanted effects than if the same substances were taken alone in pure form.”
Another potential advantage is that nutritional supplements can be used as complementary medicines in combination with drug treatments.
In the joint project, the Strauss team tested their approach to treating stress using two Ayurvedic medicinal plants: Withania hypnotic (known as ashwagandha or sleep berry) and Gotu kola (Indian pennywort).
The research partners were able to demonstrate that when taken prophylactically, both plants enhanced the ability to resist chronic stress so that stress-exposed flies did not enter a depression-like state in the first place.
Chlorogenic acid has been identified as a substance relevant to stress treatment
“In case Withania hypnotic“We found that the method of root preparation makes a difference, with aqueous extracts providing better protective effects than alcoholic extracts,” explained Dr. Burkhard Boeck, who was also involved in the experiments.
This surprising result indicates how important it is to pay attention to the production methods used for dietary supplements.
The team in Mainz and their partners in Portland obtained an even more impressive result when conducting experiments Gotu kola. They were actually able to identify a specific component, chlorogenic acid, that acts as a preventative and anti-stress agent.
Chlorogenic acid is present in many plants, in particularly high levels in coffee beans, for example. It is also found in traditional medicinal herbs such as valerian.Valeriana officinalis(and St. John’s wort)St. John’s wort), whose stress-relieving potential has been known for a long time.
Analysis of these medicinal substances not only provides general information on their effect on neurological stress, but can also provide starting points for basic resilience research.
“In this case, we were able to identify a target protein relevant to chlorogenic acid Fruit fly“Protein phosphatase calcineurin,” said Professor Roland Strauss, explaining the results of additional research.
In humans, calcineurin is present in many organs of the body and there are exceptionally high concentrations in the nervous system. There it interacts with many other proteins and mediates many signaling pathways.
About psychopharmacology and depression research news
author: Katherine Voigt
source: Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
communication: Kathrin Voigt – Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz
picture: Image credited to Neuroscience News
Original search: Open access.
“Chlorogenic acids, acting via calcineurin, are the main compounds in Centella asiatica extracts that mediate the ability to resist chronic stress in Drosophila melanogaster” by Roland Strauss et al. Nutrients
Chlorogenic acids, acting via calcineurin, are the main compounds in Centella asiatica extracts that mediate the ability to resist chronic stress in Drosophila melanogaster.
Common symptoms of depressive disorders include anhedonia, sleep problems, and decreased physical activity.
Medications used to treat depression mostly aim to increase serotonin signaling but can have unwanted side effects. Depression has also been treated through traditional medicine using plants such as Gotu kola (CA) This has been found to be well tolerated.
However, very few controlled studies have addressed the protective role of CA in depression, and the active compounds or mechanisms mediating this function have not been identified.
To address this problem we used Black-bellied fruit fly To investigate whether CA can improve depression-related symptoms such as anhedonia and decreased climbing activity.
We found that the aqueous extract of CA provides resilience to stress-induced phenotypes and that this effect is primarily due to the mono-caffeic acids found in CA.
Furthermore, we describe that the protective function of CA is due to synergism between chlorogenic acid and one of its isomers that is also present in CA. However, increasing the concentration of chlorogenic acid can overcome the need for the second isomer.
Finally, we found that chlorogenic acid acts via calcineurin, a multifunctional phosphatase that can regulate synaptic transmission and plasticity and is also involved in neuronal maintenance.