Carnosic acid is a phytochemical that occurs naturally in rosemary, the common culinary herb. Carnosic acid is also found to a lesser extent in another widely used herb, sage. According to studies conducted by U.S. and Japanese medical researchers, carnosic acid has powerful antioxidant properties that protect the brain from free radical damage. Carnosic acid seems to assist in preventing damage from neurodegenerative conditions and can also help to boost brain functioning by increasing blood circulation in the brain.
What is Carnosic acid?
Rosemary is an evergreen bush that grows in many locations worldwide. It has been used for centuries as an herb in a multitude of recipes in a number of cuisines. Recently, scientists have discovered that a substance produced in the leaves of the rosemary plant called carnosic acid contains unique properties as an antioxidant and also stimulates nerve growth factor synthesis. Carnosic acid is a special antioxidant in that it remains dormant until activated by damage from free radicals in the brain, which means that it has no adverse effects on the body's cells. The other beneficial property of carnosic acid, its ability to stimulate nerve growth factor synthesis, indicates that carnosic acid could be significant in the treatment for reversing nerve cell damage and death due to conditions such as Alzheimer's disease.
Carnosic acid benefits
Carnosic acid has been shown to have a number of beneficial effects on the body. In addition to protecting the brain from oxidative free radical damage, carnosic acid helps to:
- Protect the cerebral arteries from narrowing due to age of other factors, which helps to block the development of neurodegenerative conditions and diseases;
- Increase the production of glutathione, another important antioxidant that protects cells in the brain and elsewhere in the body against free radical damage;
- Potentially assist in battling myeloid leukemia at the cellular level;
- Possibly prevent atherosclerosis (the thickening of artery walls);
- Inhibit lipase, an enzyme which breaks down fats in the diet, potentially helping in weight loss management.
Carnosic acid side effects
No adverse side effects from carnosic acid have been reported when taken in amounts as directed by health professionals.
How does Carnosic acid help brain function?
The protective effects of carnosic acid result primarily from a unique condition of the chemical that researchers are terming "pathological-activated therapeutic." Carnosic acid does not randomly target free radicals in the brain until they start to cause damage, at which time carnosic acid becomes active to prevent and even reverse the damage to neurological cells. This feature is advantageous because the body actually needs a small number of free radicals to kill invading microbes and other dangerous substances, so it is not desirable to kill every free radical in the body. Consuming too many antioxidants may be detrimental, as it eliminates too many free radicals, and the body is left without a means to effectively destroy harmful microbes. Since carnosic acid waits until free radical damage activates its protective responses, it is the ideal defense against free radicals.
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