November 25, 2023
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that is considered to be a major cause of dementia due to the increasing ageing of the population worldwide. It is a disease that severely affects patients’ daily activities, which has a significant impact on society (i.e., families, communities, and healthcare systems). According to estimates from WHO, more than 55 million people are living with dementia, and this number is expected to triple worldwide by 2050. The etiology of cognitive and memory impairment is still not fully understood. What is known so far about the pathogenesis of this disease includes several different causes leading to neurodegeneration, which follow each other and are closely linked.
Essential oils are complex mixtures of volatile compounds obtained from a single plant species via steam distillation, dry distillation, or mechanical processes. They are best known for their use in flavours, fragrances, and cosmetics, but have traditionally been used for many other purposes, including religious ceremonies and as therapeutic agents. Their traditional use has led to increasing attention being paid to their biological activity, including their activity at the level of the central nervous system.
Elettaria cardamomum, commonly known as green cardamom or true cardamom, is a herbaceous, perennial plant in the ginger family, native to southern India and Sri Lanka, but it is also naturalised in Guatemala and Tanzania and cultivated worldwide. It is the most common of the species whose seeds are used as a spice called cardamom that has a sharp, strong, punchy aroma. This plant has been used for thousands of years by ancient civilisations (e.g., the Indians, Greeks, and Romans) for culinary purposes and its healing properties in traditional medicine, making it one of the oldest spices used. Its traditional medicinal uses include asthma, gingivitis, digestive, kidney and heart diseases, and metabolic syndrome. Nowadays, it is mainly used as a flavouring and fragrance, and is becoming increasingly popular. Cardamom essential oil has already been studied for its antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, antispasmodic, antidiarrheal, and anticarcinogenic properties.
Also, previous research has shown that essential oils that are rich in 1,8-cineole can improve memory and cognitive function. Laboratory research concluded that cardamom essential oil inhibits both acetylcholinesterase and butyrylcholinesterase, which was attributed to the presence of alpha-terpinyl acetate, 1,8-cineole, linalool, linalyl acetate, and alpha-terpineol. This suggests that it can make more important neurotransmitters available to the brain to preserve or improve memory and thinking.