Can daffodils be used to help depression?

Everybody loves to receive flowers; a colourful bouquet of flowers can help to cheer people up in times of feeling low, or can simply prove useful for decorative purposes around the home. However, scientists at the University of Copenhagen are now claiming that a particular species of South African daffodils may actually help to treat depression.

They say that the daffodils contain compounds that can travel to the brain and pass through the blood-brain barrier. This is a defensive wall composed of cells that block certain substances from reaching the brain from a person’s bloodstream. Glucose is one substance that is able to get through this barrier, but a lot of drugs fail to do so and this has posed many problems for experts who are looking to create effective medication to treat such conditions like depression.

Professor Birger Brodin from the University of Copenhagen assisted in the research process and he claims he and his team have found that the two South African flowers Crinum and Cyrtanthus, were both able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier. He commented, “Several of our plant compounds can probably be smuggled past the brain’s effective barrier proteins. We examined various compounds for their influence on the transporter proteins in the brain. Our results are promising, and several of the chemical compounds studied should therefore be tested further, as candidates for long-term drug development.”

We should not get too carried away about this news though, and it could be a long time before any medication has been developed based on a daffodil’s properties. Professor Brodin acknowledged that the results do show promise, but that a lot more work needs to be done in the future to understand more about the plant’s compounds. He concluded, “This is the first stage of a lengthy process, so it will take some time before we can determine which of the plant compounds can be used in further drug development.”

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