By Dr. Mercola
Adding herbs like parsley and thyme to your diet might help boost your brainpower, courtesy of apigenin. Apigenin is a flavonoid found in many herbs, including parsley, thyme, and chamomile, and certain other plants like celery and other vegetables.
When researchers applied apigenin to human stem cells in a petri dish, something remarkable happened – 25 days later, the stem cells had turned into neurons (an effect that didn’t occur without apigenin).1
The synapses, or connections between neurons, were also “strong and more sophisticated,” which is crucial for memory consolidation, learning, and overall brain function.2
The researchers noted that apigenin binds to estrogen receptors, which affect the development, maturation, function, and plasticity of the nervous system. They wrote in the journal Advances in Regenerative Biology:3
” … [B]y simply adding a plant compound called apigenin to human pluripotent stem cells, they become neurons after a few days. We also observed that neurons could make more sophisticated connections among themselves after treatment with this natural compound.
This observation suggests that flavonoids derived from plants can be used as a tool for the production of neurons in a dish.
Moreover, since flavonoids are present at high amounts in some foods, we can speculate that a diet rich in flavonoids may influence the formation of neurons and the way they communicate within the brain.”
How Might Apigenin Help Grow New Brain Cells?
The fact that apigenin triggers stem cells to become neurons is quite remarkable. Neurogenesis, or your brain’s ability to adapt and grow new brain cells, is known to be influenced by lifestyle factors, including exercise and diet.
Apigenin may be one factor in the latter and may explain why flavonoid-rich foods are associated with neurogenesis. According to Stanford University, antioxidants such as
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