Nootropic and Anti-Alzheimer's Actions of Medicinal Plants: Molecular Insight into Therapeutic Potential to Alleviate Alzheimer's Neuropathology

Mol Neurobiol. 2019 Jul;56(7):4925-4944. doi: 10.1007/s12035-018-1420-2. Epub 2018 Nov 9.


Medicinal plants are the backbone of modern medicine. In recent times, there is a great urge to discover nootropic medicinal plants to reverse cognitive dysfunction owing to their less adverse effects. Alzheimer's disease (AD) is an age-related neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the inevitable loss of cognitive function, memory and language impairment, and behavioral disturbances, which turn into gradually more severe. Alzheimer's has no current cure, but symptomatic treatments are available and research continues. The number of patients suffering from AD continues to rise and today, there is a worldwide effort under study to find better ways to alleviate Alzheimer's pathogenesis. In this review, the nootropic and anti-Alzheimer's potentials of 6 medicinal plants (i.e., Centella asiatica, Clitoria ternatea, Crocus sativus, Terminalia chebula, Withania somnifera, and Asparagus racemosus) were explored through literature review. This appraisal focused on available information about neuroprotective and anti-Alzheimer's use of these plants and their respective bioactive compounds/metabolites and associated effects in animal models and consequences of its use in human as well as proposed molecular mechanisms. This review progresses our existing knowledge to reveal the promising linkage of traditional medicine to halt AD pathogenesis. This analysis also avowed a new insight to search the promising anti-Alzheimer's drugs.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; Cognitive enhancers; Medicinal plants; Neurofibrillary tangles; Nootropics; Senile plaques.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / drug therapy*
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Nootropic Agents / isolation & purification
  • Nootropic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Plants, Medicinal*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic / methods


  • Nootropic Agents
  • Plant Extracts