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Dementia treatment contains flower power

Dementia treatment contains flower power
24th January 2013

For centuries, flowers have been used to create traditional herbal remedies for a variety of ailments.

Now research has revealed one-third of all new medicines created in the last five years have been derived from natural products, with these treatments offered to patients with conditions as diverse as insomnia, depression and cancer.

One of the most widely-used of these is the dementia drug Reminyl, which contains galantamine - an element found in the bulbs of the snowdrop flower, the Daily Mail reports.

Patients with Alzheimer's disease have lower levels of a chemical called acetylcholine, which helps transfer messages between nerve cells in the brain.

Galantamine increases the levels of acetylcholine in the brain, helping to slow cognitive decline. Smaller amounts can also be found in daffodil bulbs.

Dr Melanie-Jayne Howes of the Royal Botanic Gardens said: "Galantamine was originally tested for use in conditions such as eye, gastric and heart disorders."

She revealed the element was first explored as a potential treatment for dementia in the 1980s.

Find out more about dementia care and services at Barchester care homes.