Botanicals for Aging EyesFebruary 4, 2015 Written by JP [Font too small?]
Recently, an old friend asked for some suggestions to protect her eyes from the “normal” visual decline associated with aging. Now, you’ve probably seen more than a few eye supplements at your local health food stores and pharmacies. And, most of these products contain similar ingredients such as beta carotene or pro-Vitamin A, copper, lutein, Vitamin C, zinc and so on. All of these nutrients and phytochemicals have been shown to benefit ocular function or health in one way or another. Having said that, some newer, far less common botanicals may provide additional protection. What’s more, these lesser known extracts are generally not found in nutraceutical formulas intended to support eye health.
Before I delve into the supplement arena, first a quick look at the latest information about the role that diet plays in visual preservation. A fascinating study in the December 2014 issue of Nutrition Research describes the importance of dietary antioxidants in relation to “age-related decline in visual acuity”. The authors of the study looked at the food intake of Amazonian hunter-gatherers who still live a relatively undisturbed existence. What they found is that the diversity of their diet differed significantly from the neighboring population. For instance the hunter-gatherers consumed 130 food species and 80 wild plants. In comparison, neighbors living an agrarian or modern lifestyle, only ate 63 food species and 4 wild plants. Why does this matter? Well, the researchers determined that the phytochemical-rich diet of the hunter-gatherers helped them to retain high visual acuity throughout their lives. The same was not true of the agrarian, comparison group. Additionally, a publication in the August 2014 edition of the American Journal of Ophthalmology reports that greater adherence to a healthy diet, over the course of ten years, dramatically reduces the risk of visual impairment in older adults. In short, nutrition matters and should be the foundation for any ocular supportive program.
Meriva, a curcumin extract that is bound to a component in lecithin, has been shown in several studies to improve eyesight and protect eyes from a number of conditions including chronic central serous chorioretinopathy, chronic anterior uveitis, diabetic microangiopathy and retinopathy. The typical dosage used in the studies for the “management of inflammatory and degenerative eye conditions” is 500 mg taken twice daily with food. A study from 2009, reveals that Pycnogenol, a patented pine bark extract, given at a dosage of 50 mg thrice-daily, significantly improves visual acuity in diabetic patients. In the trial, those taking Pycnogenol demonstrated a reduction in macular swelling and an improvement in microcirculation in the eyes. Diabetics are particularly at risk for hastened aging and visual impairment in their advancing years. Also of note, a combination of bilberry and Pycnogenol, sold commercially as Mirtogenol, is known to lower glaucoma-related, intraocular pressure (IOP). Another rare extract which lowers high IOP is saffron. To date, three studies attest to ocular benefits pertaining to a daily intake of 20-30 mg/daily of saffron extract. Thus far, saffron has shown promise specifically in patients living with age related macular degeneration and open angle glaucoma.
So, which remedy is right for you? Apart from choosing based on your unique, ocular circumstance, I suggest keeping in mind the other health effects that these remedies may impart. All three of the extracts possess numerous, scientifically-proven health benefits. In fact, there are so many reasons to consider each one that I simply can’t describe all of them here and now. However, as a basic guideline consider curcumin/Meriva if you’re also dealing with any kind of physical pain or soreness because of its anti-inflammatory activity. If you have cardiovascular concerns, Pycnogenol is an excellent candidate for enhancing circulation and lowering several risk factors associated with heart disease. Saffron has been most extensively studied as a natural antidepressant. Therefore, if you tend have any mood related troubles, saffron may boost your mental outlook in addition to protecting your vision. As a bonus, saffron is not associated with conventional antidepressant-related side effects such as sexual dysfunction or weight gain.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
To learn more about the studies referenced in today’s column, please click on the following links:
Study 1 – A Phytochemical-Rich Diet May Explain the Absence of Age-Related … (link)
Study 2 – Adherence to Dietary Guidelines & the 10-Year Cumulative Incidence … (link)
Study 3 – Oral Administration of a Curcumin-Phospholipid Delivery System for … (link)
Study 4 – Meriva®, a Lecithinized Curcumin Delivery System, in Diabetic … (link)
Study 5 – Management of Chronic Anterior Uveitis Relapses: Efficacy of Oral … (link)
Study 6 – Pycnogenol Improves Microcirculation, Retinal Edema & Visual Acuity … (link)
Study 7 – Mirtogenol Potentiates Latanoprost in Lowering Intraocular Pressure … (link)
Study 8 – The Ocular Hypotensive Effect of Saffron Extract in Primary Open Angle … (link)
Study 9 – Functional Effect of Saffron Supplementation & Risk Genotypes in Early … (link)
Study 10 – Influence of Saffron Supplementation on Retinal Flicker Sensitivity in … (link)
Bilberry + Pycnogenol (Mirtogenol) Lowers Intraocular Pressure
Source: Mol Vis. 2008 Jul 10;14:1288-92. (link)
Tags: Curcumin, Eyes, Pycnogenol, Saffron
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Nutrition, Nutritional Supplements