A compound found in beer could help protect the brain from diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, a new study suggests.
Xanthohumol is a compound found in hops which has already been linked to anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
The study’s authors explain:
“Hops from dried female clusters of the hop plant are widely used in beers and a few types of soft drinks.
In traditional Chinese medicine, hops have been used to treat a variety of ailments for centuries.
The presence of a high concentration of Xn [Xanthohumol] in beers might be linked to the epidemiological observation of the beneficial effect of regular beer drinking.
Xn has attracted considerable interest because of its multiple pharmacological functions, including anti-oxidation, cardiovascular protection, anticancer and cancer chemoprevention, antivirus, anti-obesity, and anti-inflammation.” (Yao et al., 2015).
The new study, published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, tested Xanthohumol on the brain cells of lab rats.
Researchers found that Xanthohumol helped to reduce oxidative stress on the brain cells.
Oxidative stress refers to the stress on cells caused by highly reactive ‘free radicals’ which are byproducts of the body’s normal process of producing energy.
The study’s authors write:
“As neuronal cells are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress and have limited replenishment during the entire lifespan, increasing evidence has supported oxidative stress as one of the pathogenic causes in the neuropathology of adult neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.”
Naturally this is only an early study, and it is far from showing that drinking a pint of beer a day will stave off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
But it may well help lead the way to producing new drugs to help the fight against neurodegenerative diseases.
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Image credit: Alzheimer’s photo from Shutterstock