Is it possible for a dietary memory supplement whose main components are from a jellyfish to be helpful for memory related issues?
Aequorea Victoria (commonly known as Crystal jellyfish) is normally present in Pacific Northwest.
Osamu Shimomura attained the Nobel Prize in the field of Chemistry for discovering that this particular jellyfish discharges a green light via a chemical process that happens due to combining the calcium with the protein aequorin.
Apoaequorin that is a part of aequorin has been synthesized in the labs through utilizing DNA (recombinant) and it is quite common to use it now for tagging.
What is Prevagen?
Prevagen is a common chewable memory supplement that happens to possess a synthetic version of apoaequorin.
The manufacturers claim that it happens to support “function of a healthy brain”, “a better and sharper mind”, “improved memory” and “better and focused thinking pattern”.
However, just side by side of all these claims, a disclaimer is also present in a small printed font that the Food and Drug Administration has not examined these statements.
Thus, doctors should diagnose this product for treating and using as a cure for any disease.
As a dietary memory supplement, this pill does not require any prescription or prior permission from a doctor.
However, if we talk about Prevagen effectiveness for the patients of Alzheimer or any other diseases related to Cognitive impairment, then we definitely need a few more clinical trials to support such lucrative claims of the producers.
Is there any strong ground for this statement?
Yes, there is a solid ground.
Basically, binding the calcium properties of apoaequorin is likely to be the reason for suggesting effectiveness and usefulness of age-associated memory loss and dementia issues.
The maintenance and regulation of cerebral calcium homeostasis is the basic need of adequate functionality of neurons and survival.
Calcium is essential as it performs the role of an intracellular messenger (principal).
Moreover, even one hypothesis suggests that the decline in the memory due to the age factor happens because of the disturbance and controlling intracellular Calcium concentration.
It is highly likely to result in neuronal dysfunction.
The Producers happen to explain the functionality of their product in an ambiguous way that generates many doubts.
As per the company’s claim, laboratory research has confirmed that Prevagen has a significant cell-supporting activity via supplying a protein that is originally present in jellyfish.
The aging process drains out these proteins.
This draining or depleting of proteins leaves the cells of the brain in a vulnerable position.
However, there is no other study available that confirms the very results or findings of apoaequorin on the human or animal subjects.
Although a study was conducted on rats, in which apoaequorin was administered in the brains of the rats for a different study, as the main focus of that study was not examining the effects on memory.
In spite of the company claims, no peer research or study exists for confirming the same results about the effectiveness of apoaequorin on the human or even the animal brain.
A small part of a sponsored study was released in the year of 2011.
However, any authentic platform has not published the complete study yet.
As per that partial study, the apoaequorin has the potential to show improvement in visual learning, memory, verbal and delayed recall but this report is only available on the official website.
Bottom Line: To confirm the details and authenticity, the official website has to add references that are more authentic.
Is Prevagen safe for the consumer use?
The official website of Prevagen does not provide the detail of adverse effects of apoaequorin even they have not given “safety part” in the published abstract of the sponsored study.
The US FDA even issued a warning letter to the manufacturer for not citing more than 1000 adverse cases like
- The adverse effects of multiple sclerosis
These effects are serious ones, as some of them even have resulted in the hospitalization of the consumers.
Rather mentioning these bad effects on the official site, the manufacturers have added two animal studies for giving the assurance of the product safety according to the GRAS (generally regarded as safe) status for the apoaequorin in the form of a food additive.
However, as per GRAS documentation 2014, the producers of Prevagen received around 2000 + reports of adverse events.
The top 10 adverse effects are
- Dizziness 172 events (7.54%)
- Nausea 155 events (6.80%)
- Diarrhea 74 events (3.24%)
- Memory impairment 74 events (3.34%)
- Insomnia 63 events (2.76%)
- Headache 428 events (18.76%)
- Hypertension 84 events (3.68%)
- Anxiety 54 events (2.37%)
- Stomach pain 51 events (2.24%)
- Confusion 46 events (2.02%)
The producers considered 26 reports of severe effects that include
Some sort of allergic reactions (rashes or itchiness)
- Chest pain
Is this memory supplement Bioavailable?
Well, bioavailability and range of dose matter only for medicine or drugs but in the case of Prevagen, it is not mandatory, as it is a dietary memory supplement, not a drug.
Apoaequorin is a protein and enzymes such as pepsin, hydrolysis (in the acidic environment) metabolize proteins.
Furthermore, in the case of apoaequorin, pepsin is present and it is highly unlikely that apoaequorin keeps itself intact in the gastrointestinal tract.
As per the statistics, only 25% people consult to their physicians or doctors among the people who face or experience memory related issues but the frequency of Prevagen dietary memory supplement advertisement suggests another way around and it seems to encourage patients who are facing any memory problems to use Prevagen without consulting with their healthcare provider.
However, it is far better to talk to a doctor and then approach any such memory supplements especially when some of the relevant points are missing from the official site.
Moreover, the patients need to understand that if they feel they have all the symptoms of a disease, it does not mean that they have that disease unless there is a confirmation via the test of the disease.
Similarly, memory loss seems a common issue but there are various reasons behind it and one common memory supplement cannot resolve all the issues that are relevant to the memory loss.
Bottom Line: As per various studies, exercise, a healthy heart, and healthy lifestyle, factors like quitting smoking and maintaining good blood pressure are much more beneficiary approaches for controlling memory loss than suggesting the patients some sort of magical potent in the form of jellyfish protein.
A doctor, nutritionist and wellness coach, Dr. Maria Hugdes takes pride in crafting well-researched, insightful and actionable content on health, wellness, fitness, diet, lifestyle, spirituality, how-to and self-help since last 7 years.