Australia's leading provider of practitioner-only nutritional and therapeutic supplements, BioCeuticals®, has today announced it is embarking on a research partnership with the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) at Western Sydney University, Australia's leader in complementary medicine research and policy.
The joint venture will involve a three-year long pilot trial exploring the clinical effect of herbal and nutritional supplements on cognitive function in elderly patients living with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI).
A highly motivated doctoral candidate will undertake a PhD with NICM focused on MCI, funded jointly by FIT BioCeuticals® P/L and Western Sydney University, the applications for which are now open.
Managing Director of BioCeuticals®, Mr Nathan Cheong, said "BioCeuticals® is proud to be embarking upon this joint venture with NICM. We hope the results of this research trial will build on existing evidence around the efficacy of herbal and nutritional supplements in improving cognition and memory."
MCI is a transitional stage between healthy ageing and dementia, characterised by a decline in cognitive abilities, including memory, executive function, and language. It is estimated that up to 35 per cent of Australians aged 70 years and older have MCI,1 and up to 15 per cent of those individuals will go on to develop dementia within a year.2,3
"Early intervention may slow the progressive course of MCI. However, effective pharmaceutical interventions for MCI are lacking. Therefore it's imperative that any potential treatments are thoroughly investigated," said Mr Cheong.
NICM is a world-class research institute, globally recognised for its research strengths and innovations in complementary medicine. The Institute has state-of-the-art clinical, analytical and pharmacology laboratory facilities to research the mechanisms of herbal medicines on cellular, molecular and physiological levels. Neurocognitive health is one of its key focus areas.
NICM NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Fellow, Dr Genevieve Steiner, who will be supervising the successful doctoral candidate alongside NICM Associate Professor Dennis Chang, and Professor Gerald Muench, said "some herbal medicines have been shown to help with memory and overall mental per-formance.
"Some of the herbs in the supplement we will be testing in this trial, such as brahmi and ginkgo, have been shown to improve working memory and information processing speed. It will be great to see whether this formula can help improve cognition in people with MCI," said Dr Steiner.
"Alpha-lipoic acid, a key component of the supplement being used in the trial, is a potent antioxidant which may help to reduce inflammatory damage in people with MCI," Dr Steiner said.
Clinical trials have investigated and shown that the combination of gingko and ginseng significantly improve memory, including quality of memory, working memory and long term memory.4,5 Synergistic effects have also been found with other compounds, when combined together they are much more effective than when separate.6
1. Sachdev et al. The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study (MAS): methodology and baseline medical and neuro-psychiatric characteristics of an elderly epidemiological non-demented cohort of Australians aged 70-90 years. International Psychogeriatrics 2010; 22(8):1248-1264.
2. Petersen et al. Mild Cognitive Impairment – Clinical Characterization and Outcome. Arch Neurol. 1999;56(3):303-308.
3. Brodaty et al. Mild cognitive impairment in a community sample: The Sydney Memory and Ageing Study. Alz-heimer's & Dementia 2013: 310-317.
4. Kennedy DO et al. Differential dose dependent changes in cognitive performance following acute administration of a Gingko biloba/Panax ginseng combination to healthy young volunteers. Nutr Neurosci 2001:4(5):399-412.
5. Wesnes KA. The memory enhancing effects of a Gingko biloba/Panax ginseng combination in healthy middle-aged volunteers. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2000; 152(4):353-361.
6. Williamson EM. Synergy and other interactions in phytomedicines. Phytomedicine. 2001; 8(5):401-409.