Macular degeneration is the most common vision problem among older adults, and is also the leading cause of blindness in North America. While there are a number of identified causes for macular degeneration, a new study indicates that the herb rosemary could be an effective preventive.
This finding was prompted by, and falls into line with, the recent popularity of herbal remedies from Asia and Europe receiving more attention from clinical researchers. That includes a recent study in which fish oils were found to help prevent macular degeneration.
The new study—conducted at the Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute in California—found that “carnosic acid,” which is a component of rosemary, promotes overall eye health. In particular, it protects retinas from degeneration and toxicity, which are related to macular degeneration.
While the disease has many suspected causes, studies have shown that antioxidant compounds could protect against it. The Sanford-Burnham researchers earlier found that carnosic acid acts as an antioxidant in the brain. In the new study, they tested it on cells from the retina, which were exposed to hydrogen peroxide that would trigger oxidative stress. Not surprisingly, the cells treated with carnosic acid had antioxidant enzyme production, which indicates cell protection.
They also tested rosemary’s core ingredient in an animal model, where eyes were exposed to light-induced damage. Those rodents pre-treated with carnosic acid had a thicker outer nuclear layer in the eye, indicating that their photoreceptors were protected. And, they had a measurably better photoreceptor function after the test.
While pharmaceutical firms are developing different types of synthetic carnosic acid and related compounds to protect the retina and related tissues from degenerative conditions, there are natural alternatives, like rosemary, already available.
Besides, rosemary has plenty of other healthy properties, including the ability to protect against memory loss.
Sources for Today’s Articles:
This Herb Can Help Save Your Sight
Rezaie, T., et al., “Protective Effect of Carnosic Acid, a Pro-Electrophilic Compound, in Models of Oxidative Stress and Light-Induced Retinal Degeneration,” IOVS November 2012; 53: 7,847-7,854.