Natural Ayurvedic remedies ease symptoms of fruit fly depression

One study suggests that Ayurvedic plants such as ashwagandha and ashwagandha may prevent depression-like symptoms caused by chronic stress in fruit flies. The chlorogenic acid found in these plants plays a vital role in increasing stress resistance.

The University of Mainz and the US-based BENFRA Center have jointly demonstrated the effect of plant products used in traditional Asian medicine on melancholic states.

Chronic exposure to stress leads to the development of a melancholia-like disorder manifested by a lack of motivation—even in fruit flies Drosophila melanogaster. As a result, the insects displayed less courtship behavior, were less interested in stopping to ingest sweet nutrients, and were less willing to climb into gaps in the experimental setup.

However, researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University (JGU) in Mainz, Germany, in collaboration with the BENFRA Botanical Dietary Supplement Research Center in Portland, Oregon, observed that traditional medicinal plants can alleviate some related symptoms to a certain extent. . Researchers have shown that two plants used in Ayurvedic medicine can improve resistance to chronic stress when used prophylactically against flies. Although they were stressed, they no longer exhibited behaviors consistent with depression.Their research paper on the two plant materials has been published in Nutrients.

Fruit flies in centella asiatica leaves

A fruit fly’s motivation level can be inferred based on whether it attempts to crawl across gaps it encounters while walking. In melancholy-like states, fruit flies were less likely to do this. In the background are Centella asiatica leaves. Photo credit: Helen Hovoet, Hans-Hermann Huber

Herbal Solutions for Stress Relief in Traditional Medicine

The JGU research group led by Professor Roland Strauss has been using Drosophila melanogaster Model to analyze the underlying mechanisms of stress resilience and the effects of stress on the nervous system. “Chronic stress also induces melancholy-like states in fruit flies, which become evident in changes in their behavior,” explains Strauss. In the context of the latest research, his team collaborated with the American BENFRA plant The Center for Dietary Supplement Research collaborated. The center studies botanicals that enhance neurological and functional recovery during aging.

The Mainz-based researchers focused on testing extracts of plants and natural substances known to be used in traditional Asian medicine and also marketed as dietary supplements. The idea is that certain plants contain above-average levels of active ingredients or substances that themselves exhibit particularly high levels of biological activity. These so-called adaptogens help our bodies adapt to increased physical and emotional stress.

Fruit flies in sugar

Sugar and adaptogen intake can reduce or even prevent the melancholy-like state in fruit flies.Photo credit: Tim Hermans

“One advantage of medicinal plants compared to traditional medicines may be the mixture of active plant substances that act on different parts of the stress axis,” said Dr. Strauss, a doctoral student in Professor Strauss’s team and author of both papers. said lead author Helen Holvoet. “Because of their synergistic effects in fighting stress, they may cause fewer adverse effects than administering these substances alone in pure form.” Another potential advantage is that dietary supplements could be used in conjunction with drug therapies of complementary medicine.

Ayurvedic plant research findings

In this joint project, Strauss’ team tested their approach to treating stress using two Ayurvedic medicinal plants; Withania somnifera (called ashwagandha or sleep berry) and Centella (Indian cinnabar). The research partners were able to show that, when applied prophylactically, both plants enhanced resilience to chronic stress, so that stress-exposed fruit flies did not fall into a melancholic state in the first place.

Identifying key substances in stress therapy

“in the case of Withania somnifera“We found that the preparation method of the roots was different, as the aqueous extract had a better preventive effect than the alcoholic extract,” explains Dr. Burkhard Poeck, who also participated in the experiments. This surprising result really shows how important it is to pay attention to how dietary supplements are produced.

The team in Mainz and their partners in Portland got even more impressive results when they tried it Centella.They were actually able to identify one specific ingredient, chlorophyll acid, as a preventive, anti-stress substance. Chlorogenic acid is found in many plants, such as coffee beans in particularly high concentrations. It is also found in traditional medicines such as valerian (Valerian) and St. John’s wort (Hypericum perforatum), its stress-relieving potential has long been known.

Analysis of this class of drugs not only provides general information about their effects on neuronal stress but can also provide a starting point for fundamental resilience research. “In this case, we were able to identify the relevant target protein of chlorogenic acid fruit fly, the protein phosphatase calcineurin,” Professor Roland Strauss said, explaining the results of other studies. In humans, calcineurin is found in many body organs, with particularly high concentrations in the nervous system. There it interacts with many other proteins and mediates many signaling pathways.

refer to:

“Chlorogenic acid acts through calcineurin and is the main compound in Centella asiatica extract that regulates the chronic stress recovery ability of Drosophila.” Authors: Helen Holvoet, Dani M. Long, Liping Yang, Jaewoo Choi, Luke Marney , Burkhard Poeck, Claudia S. Maier, Amala Soumyanath, Doris Kretzschmar and Roland Strauss, September 15, 2023 Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu15184016

Withania somnifera Extracts promote Drosophila resiliency against age-related and stress-induced behavioral phenotypes; possible role of other compounds besides withanolides” by Helen Holvoet, Dani M. Long, Alexander Law, Christine McClure, Jaewoo Choi, Liping Yang, Luke Marney, Burkhard Poeck, Roland Strauss, Jan F. Stevens, Claudia S. Maier, Amala Soumyanath, and Doris Kretzschmar, September 21, 2022 Nutrients.
DOI: 10.3390/nu14193923


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