Research has shown that palm tocotrienols could be used as a long-term supplement to protect brain cells and may help minimise brain cell injuries, especially a stroke.
PALM oil is an important part of the Malaysian economy.
Today, more than 300,000 small farmers throughout the nation cultivate oil palm on agricultural-zone land (that are usually the size of between four to 400 hectares).
Together with big plantation companies, they produce more than 18 million tons of palm oil every year.
Last year, Malaysia shipped out RM53bil worth of palm oil to 150 countries.
Oil palm cultivation is considered a key to poverty reduction in Malaysia.
Recently, the Malaysian government has stressed the need to sustain the palm oil industry due to intense international competition from palm oil producers globally.
The Government, under a scheme of the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP), is working to enhance downstream, high-value components of palm oil.
One such component has the potential to bring downstream activities to new heights by penetrating the healthcare and pharmaceutical sector – palm tocotrienols.
Palm tocotrienols are attracting worldwide attention due to the potential medical benefits seen in many clinical trials.
Under the Pemandu project, the true potential of palm tocotrienols is emerging, with more than RM25mil invested by the Government into human clinical trials that are bearing positive results.
Recently, a clinical trial conducted at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) led by Professor Yuen Kah Hay observed a significant breakthrough in the field of neuroprotection and stroke.
The findings of the trial have been published resulted in the esteemed neurology journal, Stroke (http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/early/2014/04/03/STROKEAHA.113.004449.short?rss=1).
The aim of this study was to evaluate the neuroprotective properties of palm tocotrienols in patients with white matter lesions (WMLs).
In essence, the amount of WMLs in the brain reflects the varying degrees of neurodegeneration and tissue damage in the brain.
A group of 121 volunteer patients (aged 35 and above) were randomised to receive an oral intake of palm tocotrienols 200mg twice a day, or a placebo, for two years.
Researchers found that the increase in mean WML volume was significantly different statistically between the tocotrienol-supplemented group and the placebo group at the end of two years.
The mean WML volume of the placebo group showed an increase after two years, whereas the tocotrienol-supplemented group did not demonstrate any increase.
The researchers concluded that palm tocotrienols could decrease the progression of WMLs.
It can be used as a long-term supplement to protect brain cells and may help in minimising brain cell injuries, especially during an ischaemic event such as a stroke.
This breakthrough clinical finding on palm tocotrienols is indeed very exciting.
Stroke incidence has increased rapidly in Malaysia in recent years.
Changes in lifestyle habits have resulted in an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as hypertension, diabetes, hypercholesterolaemia and obesity.
These are risk factors for stroke, and therefore, it is not surprising to see the rapid increases in stroke cases, starting as early as 40 years old.
The results of the Malaysian trial offers hope to those at high risk of stroke, as supplementation with palm tocotrienols may minimise brain damage due to stroke.
This may potentially improve patient outcomes after a stroke.
As palm tocotrienols are known to be poorly absorbed into the human body, the clinical study used a patented self-emulsifying system to deliver sufficient levels of palm tocotrienols to the body.
This delivery system has been shown to effectively increase the absorption of palm tocotrienols by 300%.
Tocotrienols developed with this system has been clinically proven to reach vital organs such as the brain, liver, heart, skin, and adipose tissue.