Wasabi Compound Enhances Memory

Summary: A recent study investigated the impact of 6-MSITC, a compound found in wasabi, on cognitive functions in older adults. Over 12 weeks, participants took either a 6-MSITC supplement or a placebo.

Results showed significant improvements in working and episodic memory in the 6-MSITC group, though no improvements in other cognitive areas. This study is the first to demonstrate 6-MSITC’s potential benefits on memory functions in healthy seniors.

Key Facts:

  1. The study involved 72 older adults in a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial, comparing the effects of 6-MSITC supplementation to a placebo over 12 weeks.
  2. Participants receiving 6-MSITC showed significant improvements in working memory and episodic memory, while no significant benefits were observed in other cognitive domains like processing speed or attention.
  3. This research is pioneering in demonstrating the positive effects of 6-MSITC, the main bioactive compound in wasabi, on memory functions in the aging population, expanding upon previous findings in middle-aged adults.

Source: Neuroscience News

In a groundbreaking study that could have significant implications for aging populations worldwide, researchers have uncovered that a compound found in wasabi, a traditional Japanese spice, may enhance certain cognitive functions in older adults.

The study, which focused on the effects of 6-MSITC – the primary bioactive component of wasabi – on cognitive health, has provided new insights into the potential benefits of dietary interventions in maintaining and improving mental functions in the elderly.

This shows wasabi powder.
However, the study’s authors caution that more research is needed to fully understand the effects and potential applications of 6-MSITC in cognitive health. Credit: Neuroscience News

The Growing Concern of Cognitive Decline in Aging

Cognitive decline with age is a major concern, as it can significantly impact an individual’s ability to perform daily tasks and maintain independence. As the global population ages, there is an increasing focus on finding ways to preserve cognitive health in older adults. Previous research has indicated that nutrition plays a crucial role in cognitive health, with certain diets and food components showing promise in supporting mental functions.

Wasabi: A Spice with Potential Cognitive Benefits

Wasabi, known for its unique flavor and heat, has been a staple in Japanese cuisine for centuries. Beyond its culinary uses, wasabi contains 6-Methylsulfinylhexyl Isothiocyanate (6-MSITC), a compound that has been shown to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

These properties are believed to be critical in combating cognitive decline, making 6-MSITC a compound of interest in the quest to support cognitive health in the elderly.

The Study: Methodology and Participants

The study’s methodology was robust, involving a double-blinded, randomized controlled trial (RCT). Seventy-two older adults were randomly assigned to two groups: one receiving a 6-MSITC supplement and the other a placebo.

Over a period of 12 weeks, these participants, all aged 60 and above, were given either the wasabi compound or a placebo. The researchers then evaluated a range of cognitive abilities, including executive function, memory, processing speed, and attention, both before and after the intervention.

Significant Findings: Memory Improvement

The results were notable. Participants who received the 6-MSITC supplement showed a significant improvement in both working and episodic memory performances compared to the placebo group.

These findings are especially important as they demonstrate, for the first time, the potential of 6-MSITC to enhance memory functions in older adults. However, it’s important to note that the study did not find significant improvements in other cognitive areas such as processing speed, attention, or executive function.

Understanding the Impact on Memory Functions

The improvement in memory functions, particularly working memory and episodic memory, is significant. Working memory is crucial for reasoning, decision-making, and behavior, while episodic memory plays a key role in personal history and experiences. The improvement in these areas can greatly affect the quality of life and independence in older adults.

The Potential Mechanism Behind the Benefits

While the study did not delve deeply into the biological mechanisms behind the improvements, the anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of 6-MSITC are thought to play a critical role. These properties may help protect against brain damage and enhance neural functions in key areas of the brain like the hippocampus, which is vital for memory.

Comparisons with Previous Studies

This study builds upon previous research that has shown beneficial effects of 6-MSITC on cognitive functions in middle-aged adults. The current study extends these findings to a healthy older adult population, providing evidence that the benefits of 6-MSITC are not limited to those with existing cognitive complaints or younger age groups.

Implications and Future Directions

The findings of this study have exciting implications. They suggest that incorporating foods high in beneficial compounds like 6-MSITC could be a simple, natural way to support cognitive health in older adults.

However, the study’s authors caution that more research is needed to fully understand the effects and potential applications of 6-MSITC in cognitive health.

Limitations and Considerations

The study is not without its limitations. For instance, the lack of measurement of biomarkers for antioxidants or anti-inflammatories means that the exact biological mechanism behind the observed benefits remains speculative.

Additionally, the study’s focus on healthy older adults leaves open the question of whether similar benefits would be observed in younger populations or those already experiencing cognitive decline.

Conclusion: A Step Forward in Cognitive Health Research

In conclusion, this study represents a significant step forward in understanding how dietary components like those found in wasabi can impact cognitive health in older adults.

While further research is needed, the potential for natural interventions to support memory and other cognitive functions is an exciting prospect, offering hope for improved quality of life and independence for aging populations worldwide.

About this memory and aging research news

Author: Neuroscience News Communications
Source: Neuroscience News
Contact: Neuroscience News Communications – Neuroscience News
Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News

Original Research: Open access.
Benefits of Wasabi Supplements with 6-MSITC (6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate) on Memory Functioning in Healthy Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: Evidence from a Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial” by Rui Nouchi et al. Nutrients


Abstract

Benefits of Wasabi Supplements with 6-MSITC (6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate) on Memory Functioning in Healthy Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: Evidence from a Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial

Background: Cognitive functions decline with age. Declined cognitive functions negatively affect daily behaviors. Previous studies showed the positive effect of spices and herbs on cognition. In this study, we investigated the positive impact of wasabi, which is a traditional Japanese spice, on cognitive functions.

The main bioactive compound of wasabi is 6-MSITC (6 methylsulfinyl hexyl isothiocyanate), which has anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory functions. Anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatories have an important role in cognitive health. Therefore, 6-MSITC is expected to have positive effects on cognitive function.

Previous studies showed the beneficial effects on cognitive functions in middle-aged adults. However, it is unclear that 6-MSITC has a positive effect on cognitive functions in healthy older adults aged 60 years and over. Here, we investigated whether 12 weeks’ 6-MSITC intervention enhances cognitive performance in older adults using a double-blinded randomized controlled trial (RCT).

Methods: Seventy-two older adults were randomly assigned to 6-MSITC or placebo groups. Participants were asked to take a supplement (6-MSITC or a placebo) for 12 weeks. We checked a wide range of cognitive performances (e.g., executive function, episodic memory, processing speed, working memory, and attention) at the pre- and post-intervention periods.

Results: The 6-MSITC group showed a significant improvement in working and episodic memory performances compared to the placebo group. However, we did not find any significant improvements in other cognitive domains.

Discussion: This study firstly demonstrates scientific evidence that 6-MSITC may enhance working memory and episodic memory in older adults. We discuss the potential mechanism for improving cognitive functions after 6-MSITC intake.

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  1. “The wasabi paste commonly served in sushi bars, even in Japan, is often not genuine and is usually made from dyeing plain white rice green.”

    Note:
    Fake wasabi is is loaded with common horseradish, which has a similar gustatory punch. Crucially more important, common horseradish does, in fact, contain the compound in question* although it takes a certain amount of sleuthing of the literature to find that out.

    ____

    * 6-(Methylsulfinyl)hexyl isothiocyanate. I was able to find it in an assay of ordinary horseradish, but only in one paper, a Masters thesis. It seems researchers aren’t much into a breakout of horseradish isothiocyanates.

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