At this time there is no definitive cure for Parkinson’s disease. In this disease there is a failure of brain cells of the substantia nigra (a location in the brain) to produce dopamine, a neurotransmitter. Parkinsonism can be treated with dopamine agonists or monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitor activity, either of which increases dopamine activity.
There are claims of benefit of an Banisteriopsis caapi (ayahuasca) extract in Parkinsonism. This present study was done to evaluate the MAO inhibitor activity and the antioxidant activity of an aqueous extract of Banisteropsis caapi. This plant comes from the Amazon areas of Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
A number of chemicals with MAO inhibitor activity were found by hot aqueous extraction of ayahuasca. Of these, harmaline and harmine showed the most potent activity. Epicatechins and procyanidins were found in the extract with potent antioxidant activity, important in treatment of the neurodegeneration seen with Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.
The MAO-inhibitory activity, a series of enzymes, antioxidant activity and cytotoxic activity of Banisteriopsis caapi were tested. “Inhibition of MAO-B activity by beta-carbolines harmine and harmoline, in addition to potent MAO-A inhibition responsible for antidepressant activity, provide protection against neurodegeneration, and has a potential therapeutic value for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease.”
CONCLUSION: These results support the claim of the benefit of ayahuasca for Parkinsonism and other neurodegenerative diseases, by MAO inhibitor and by antioxidant activity.
NOTE: Dopamine is derived from the amino acids tyrosine and phenylalanine, which are dopamine agonists. Dopamine doesn’t cross the blood brain barrier and can’t be given directly as Parkinson’s therapy. BH4 (tetrahydrobiopterin) is an enzyme necessary to produce most catecholamines, including dopamine. Summary 301 is about the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory Parkinsonism treatments. St. John’s Wort is a MAO inhibitor.
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