T. cordifolia extracts may also help with weight management, according to data from a rat study published in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience.
“These findings suggest that [Tinospora cordifolia stem powder] supplementation in diet during the midlife transition period in women may be a potential interventional strategy for the management of menopause-associated anxiety and cognitive impairments and healthy aging,” wrote researchers from Guru Nanak Dev University in India.
Long history of Ayurvedic use
T. cordifolia is a deciduous climbing shrub native to India. The plant has a long history of use in Ayurveda to counter inflammation and “promote a balanced immune response”, according to a review published last year in the Journal of Dietary Supplements.
“Extensive phytochemical characterization of aqueous and alcoholic extracts of different Tinospora species has identified over two hundred different phytochemicals from non-overlapping chemical classes with the most abundant being diterpenoids containing the clerodane-type skeleton,” wrote the reviewers from the University of Memphis, Huntington University of Health Sciences, and Methodist Germantown Hospital.
Other bioactive constituents linked to the immune benefits of extracts from the aerial parts of T. cordifolia (stem and/or leaf) include polysaccharides (for example, arabinogalactan polysaccharide G1-4A), alkaloids, cadinane sesquiterpenes, and phenylpropanoid glycosides.
In addition to the potential immune benefits of the botanical, the India-based scientists report that T. cordifolia stem extracts may also help women during menopause. That mid-life transitional period is characterized by declines in estrogen levels.
While cognitive function naturally declines as we age, menopause has also been reported to impact neurological function.
“These functions [such as memory and attention] are under the functional control of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex (PFC) regions, and in addition to vulnerability to aging, these functions are also significantly impaired with estrogen deficiency,” explained the researchers.
The new study examined how the impacts of aging and/or a high fat diet on cognitive function and measures of anxiety in a female rat model of perimenopause.
Middle-aged rats were fed a normal chow diet or a high fat diet with and without Tinospora cordifolia stem powder (TCP) for 12 weeks. The researchers also included young rats to act as controls in all diet groups.
The results showed that animals fed normal chow diet supplemented with TCP showed consistent management of body weight even though their calorie intake was much higher compared to their age-matched controls.
TCP supplementation also reduced measures of anxiety in the older rats fed the normal chow diet. The high fat diet groups (with or without TCP), showed less anxiety-like symptoms, suggesting a high fat diet by itself may offer some mood benefits.
In addition, TCP was found to enhance memory and exploratory behavior, said the researchers.
“The potential brain benefits identified in the new study activity of TCP may be attributed to the presence of its potent bioactive molecules, which alone or synergistically seem to regulate the expression of target proteins associated with these pathways in the hippocampus and the PFC regions of the brain as underlying mechanism(s) to alleviate age-associated cognitive impairments,” they explained.
Importantly, the researchers also noted that no safety concerns were identified. Indeed, improvements in aging-related declines in liver functions and blood lipid levels were reported.
“Although the pre-clinical data is encouraging, before extrapolating the study outcome to humans, we need to work on some limitations of this study, i.e., dose and duration of treatment and post-withdrawal relapses of symptoms (if any),” cautioned the researchers.
“Also, the identification of different bioactive components interacting with protein targets of cell survival and plasticity pathways is important to support the neurotherapeutic claims of T. cordifolia to overcome the neurological outcomes in aging women.”
Source: Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience
2022, doi: https://doi.org/10.3389/fnagi.2022.944144
“Dietary Supplementation With Tinospora cordifolia Improves Anxiety-Type Behavior and Cognitive Impairments in Middle-Aged Acyclic Female Rats”
Authors: A. Bhandari, et al.