Time for a pint, anyone?
A new study has found that beer could help prevent degenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Chinese researchers discovered that a chemical in hops - the plant used to make beer – could protect brain cells from oxidative stress that causes dementia.
Xanthohumol (commonly referred to as ‘Xn’) is the key chemical in hops that scientists have found fights off oxidative damage that degenerates the brain cells.
Xn has previously been proven to help prevent cancer, viruses and obesity (to name a few) but it was only recently discovered to help the prevention of neurodegenerative disorders.
And the hop plant has been used for centuries to treat a variety of ailments in traditional Chinese medicine.
In the new research published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, scientists isolated Xn molecules and tested them on the brain cells of rats.
They found that Xn reduced oxidative damage on the cells - a process which is widely linked to degenerative diseases.
“As neuronal cells are particularly vulnerable to oxidative stress and have limited replenishment during the entire lifespan, increasing evidence has supported oxidative stress as one of the pathogenic causes in the neuropathology of adult neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease,” said Dr Jianguo Fang, of Lanzhou University in China, where the study was conducted.
But before you pop to the pub, the research doesn’t conclude that a pint of Stella a day will stave off the condition.
“Many drugs have their origins in natural products,” said Dr Arthur Roach, director of research at Parkinson's UK.
“Xanthohumol, the molecule in beer this study focuses on, appears to have protective effects on cells grown in the lab similar to those lost in Parkinson's.
“It certainly does not suggest drinking a pint a day could stave off the condition.
“This is a very early step, and only further work will indicate whether this could lead to new drugs for Parkinson's and other neurodegenerative diseases.”