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Thursday, July 9, 1998 Published at 11:56 GMT 12:56 UK


Health: Latest News

Memories stimulated by herbs and flowers

Sage and daffodils could help stimulate the memory

Sage and daffodils may be able to help the thousands of people in the UK who suffer from Alzheimer's Disease.

A report by leading charity, the Alzheimer's Disease Society, for Alzheimer's Awareness Week says that research at a Newcastle hospital shows that sage has similar affects on dementia to drugs such as Aricept.

Scientists claim Aricept slows the progression of Alzheimer's by reducing the activity of an enzyme which attacks the chemical acetycholine.

This chemical is thought to play an important role in brain cells which control learning and memory. These are gradually destroyed as the memory disease advances.

Expensive

Aricept is not being provided by some health authorities in the UK because of its expense. Health authorities also complain that not enough research has been done on it.


[ image: One in five over 85-year-olds will develop dementia]
One in five over 85-year-olds will develop dementia
In a report on memory, the Alzheimer's Disease Society say research by Professor Elaine Perry and her team at Newcastle General Hospital shows that sage could have a similar effect as Aricept on acetycholine.

The first person to note the positive effects of sage was 18th century herbalist John Hill. He said sage slowed the memory's "rapid decay".

The Society says there is also research going on into the effect of smells on memories. Researchers seeking new drugs for treating people with Alzheimer's are using daffodils to investigate how smells can stimulate memories.

People tend to have a better ability to recall memories through smells and tastes than words and pictures, according to the Alzheimer's Disease Society.

Irreversible

Around 700,000 people in the UK suffer from dementia - 55% of them from Alzheimer's. One in 20 people over 65 will suffer from dementia and the figure rises to one in five of over 85-year-olds.

Alzheimer's disease is degenerative and irreversible. In addition to memory loss, it causes confusion and personality changes. People forget how to do everyday tasks, such as writing, and, as the disease progresses, they also stop recognising close friends and relatives.

The Alzheimer's Disease Society's report, Thanks for the Memory, celebrates the role of memory and suggests ways people can make their brains work better for them.

It says there is evidence that giving your brain regular exercise promotes general good health and can stop the memory from deteriorating.

Most people only use a fraction of their memory and forcing yourself to remember things can improve it.

The report identifies five types of memory: short-term, episodic, semantic (for facts and figures), procedural (for practical skills) and prospective (for things to be done in the future).

It gives 10 tips for improving memory, including getting enough sleep, learning poetry off by heart, linking new facts to things you know and keeping a diary. It also says different people's memories work best at different times of the day.



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