About this Research Topic
This Research Topic explores the pharmacological evidence for the use of various natural products in food or food supplements to improve or maintain mental health and well-being. The scope of this Research Topic covers evidence for the involvement of natural products, from plants, algae or fungi, in the prevention and management of acute and chronic mental and neurological disorders by directly targeting a component of the central or peripheral nervous system or indirectly through the gut microbiome, but excludes purely nutritional benefits, or studies focused solely a single metabolite, vitamin or mineral. We define a food or food supplement for the purpose of this Research Topic as a natural product, of plant, algal or fungal origin, that is incorporated in the diet, either temporarily or for long periods, for the treatment or maintenance of health and well-being.
In 2019, it was estimated that common mental disorders around the globe affect more than 370 million people, including depression (about 264 million), bipolar disorder (45 million), dementia (50 million), and schizophrenia and other psychoses (20 million). Psychotherapy and psychiatric medication are two major treatment options for mental disorders; however, other treatments include lifestyle changes such as diet. A neurological disorder is any disorder of the nervous system. Structural, biochemical or electrical abnormalities in the brain, spinal cord or other nerves can result in a range of symptoms, some relatively common such as epilepsy, but many rare. The World Health Organization (2006) estimates that these disorders and their direct consequences affect as many as one billion people, with health inequalities and social stigma/discrimination major factors contributing to the associated disability and suffering. Interventions include preventive and corrective measures, medication, but also lifestyle changes, or a specific diet.
The COVID-19 pandemic, the trauma it has caused, and the resulting economic recession has negatively affected many people’s mental health. It has created new barriers for people already suffering from mental illness and substance use disorders. It is extremely likely that many more people will seek alternative treatments, food supplements being one of them. The need for strong scientific evidence for the safety and efficacy of such products is crucial and urgent.
In this Research Topic we welcome studies on the following subtopics, but not limited to:
• Novel neurological targets and activities of chemically quantified or standardized food supplements, nutraceuticals or wholefoods, isolated natural products thereof, including new methodologies and hyphenated instrument configurations.
• Systematic reviews of neurological targets, methodologies and activities of food supplements, nutraceuticals or wholefoods, isolated natural products thereof.
• Analysis of biomarkers (active compound, representative compounds, prohibited and excessive substances) of plant, algal or fungal foods consumed specifically for mental health and well-being - preparation and formulation studies, such as quality control or innovative extraction techniques, related to an established food additive or supplement used for mental health and well-being are also welcome.
• Development of new drug delivery systems based on plant, algal or fungal foods with mental health and well-being promoting activities.
• Ethnobotanical research or review papers on regional, traditional, or cross-cultural practices related to plant, algal or fungal foods consumed specifically for mental health and well-being.
• Comparative or predictive chemometric and phylogenetic approaches related to the distribution, evolutionary history, research effort and usage patterns of food additives or supplements used for mental health and well-being.
All the manuscripts submitted to the Ethnopharmacology section (Frontiers in Pharmacology) need to fully comply with the Four Pillars of Best Practice in Ethnopharmacology (you can freely download the full version here).
Keywords: Nutraceuticals, Food, Natural Products, Plants, Algae, Fungi, Neurological disorder, Central nervous system, Neuropharmacology, Safety, Efficacy
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.