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Compound Found In Licorice Root May Help Prevent Neurodegenerative Diseases

November 12, 2010: 01:27 PM EST

Ongoing research at the University of South Carolina is looking into the possibility that a compound in licorice root could prevent or slow down cell death caused by neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. Lliquiritigenin (LQ) is a phytoestrogen found naturally in plants that mimics the hormone estrogen. Phytoestrogens bind to either alpha or beta estrogen receptors (ER) in human cells. The ones that target alpha ERs have qualities that may prevent some cancers, including breast, ovary and uterine. However, beta ERs, which LQ targets, are found in brain cells. Neuroscientist Dr. Rosemarie Booze has isolated liquiritigenin from licorice root and is testing its ability to help nerve cells survive in neurodegenerative diseases, keep neurons connected and functional, and maintain brain plasticity.

Dr. Rosemarie Booze, "Research on Plant Compound May Help Prevent Nerve Cell Loss in the Brain", News release, University of South Carolina, November 12, 2010, © USC
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