Sage may help to stabilize Alzheimer's disease

Daily Dose of Sage May Help Manage Moderate Symptoms of Alzheimer’s Disease

An HSI member named Jim has a question about Alzheimer’s disease: “Is there anything you recommend that helps prevent Alzheimer’s disease or will stabilize it or hold it at bay once it begins?”

Some sage might help.

In 2003, a team from Roozbeh Psychiatric Hospital in Tehran tested 42 elderly patients with mild to moderate AD. Half of the subjects received a daily dose of sage extract for 16 weeks. The researchers found that sage was effective in managing moderate symptoms of the disease while also reducing agitation.

For hundreds of years herbalists have known that sage is useful for improving the memory. The key is an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which breaks down a chemical called acetylcholine that is typically deficient in Alzheimer’s patients. Researchers from the Medical Plant Research Centre (MPRC) at the Universities of Newcastle and Northumbria in the UK have shown that sage inhibits AChE.

Elaine Perry is the director of the MPRC. She and her colleagues have studied sage and other botanicals in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. In 2004 she presented preliminary data that showed sage to have a significant effect on behavior and attention in healthy subjects. And when lemon balm was added to sage, the combination improved memory and mood.

Professor Perry also told Reuters Health: “Lemon balm reduced agitation and improved quality of life in people with Alzheimer’s disease.”

“Plant Extracts May Ease Dementia Symptoms” Reuters Health, 3/5/04,