Like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative disorder that affects the brain and does not have a cure yet. It is mainly recognized as a condition that causes problems with coordination and balance.
Approximately 60,000 people in the US are diagnosed with Parkinson’s every year. Modern medicine can only help manage their symptoms. Science is also still working on what causes the cognitive disorder.
They understand why some people are affected by the disease, whereas, they are still unclear in the cases of other people. So far, scientists understand that the neurological changes that are mainly associated with Parkinson’s disease occur due to the buildup of a specific type of misfolded protein, which triggers cell death, leading to the brain ailment.
This protein is the alpha-synuclein protein. There is hope though. Recent research, however, says that coffee may turn out to be useful for preventing the incidence of the brain disease.
Coffee Beans and Parkinson’s Disease
Several studies in the past have learned that coffee plays a role in protecting against Parkinson’s disease. However, research has started to indicate that it may just not be the caffeine that is responsible for such benefits. Molecules present in coffee may be credit-worthy too.
For example, some studies have learned that de-caffeinated coffee also offers protection against neurodegeneration. Thus, indicating that compounds present in coffee can help in addition to caffeine.
The reality is that coffee is packed with a plethora of compounds that can potentially interact with the body’s chemistry. One such molecule that has surfaced as a useful aid in the progression of Parkinson’s disease is a compound named eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide (EHT).
This compound is a fatty acid derivative of serotonin that is present in the waxy coating of the coffee beans. It is unrelated to caffeine and past research highlights that EHT boasts anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties.
What Has the Latest Study Found?
Findings from a recent study have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. It concludes that caffeine and EHT may work in close collaboration to safeguard against neurodegenerative decline as witnessed in Parkinson’s disease.
To confirm this hypothesis, the researchers conducted tests on mice, giving them doses of EHT or caffeine. Some of the mice received EHT or Caffeine separately. One group, however, was given both caffeine and EHT.
The combined ability of EHT and caffeine was then analyzed to learn about its role in lessening the accumulation of the protein, alpha-synuclein linked with Parkinson’s disease. The investigators learned that caffeine or EHT did not have any beneficial effect when they were given alone.
However, when the mice consumed both caffeine and EHT, they showed a substantial decline in their protein buildup. The research also learned that mice who were given a combination of both EHT and caffeine performed better in behavioral tests.
The findings of this study open up new avenues concerning the treatment that slows the progress of Parkinson’s disease.