Polygala Tenuifolia: Why it's Worth Adding to Your Nootropic Stack

Updated June 12, 2024 by | Reviewed by William Gallagher, MNeuroSci
(Estimated reading time: 4 minutes)

Polygala tenuifolia is an herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries.

It has also found its way into Western medicine, and it can be used as a nootropic supplement.

Polygala tenuifolia offers many different benefits to the human body, including improved memory retention and mood enhancement.

This post will give you all the information you need to know about this plant extract.

What is Polygala tenuifolia?

Polygala tenuifolia root is one of the most commonly used medicines in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) to support the brain and central nervous system.

Traditionally, it was widely employed as a memory enhancer and to enhance brain function during aging (i.e., what we today call a nootropic).

It was also frequently utilized in medicines to aid sleep and promote a more serene, balanced mood.

It is known to improve memory (in rats) and protect brain cells (in mice). It has been found in preclinical studies to aid with brain protection and repair processes (such as BDNF and NGF), combat chronic stress, help with sleep, and have an impact on both adenosine signaling—a molecule involved in the sleep homeostasis—and the GABA receptors.

The roots contain several bioactive compounds that are considered to be unique to the plant, such as tenuigenin, tenuifolin, yuanzhi-1, and tenuifolisides.

What Are the Benefits

As I've mentioned, it has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries and is considered to be a nootropic supplement.

It offers many benefits that support brain health and function.

There's research suggesting that this herb can help improve memory retention.

In one mouse study conducted by scientists at the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, it was found that tenuifolin (a compound contained in Polygala tenuifolia) could improve memory retention.

The mice involved were injected with scopolamine—an anti-cholinesterase drug used to induce dementia and Alzheimer's disease (AD).

Tenuifolin was able to reverse the scopolamine-induced memory impairment.

Another study conducted by researchers at South China University of Technology found that tenuigenin—a compound in Polygala tenuifolia—could improve learning and memory in mice, as well as protect brain cells from damage due to a hypoxic injury.

In a study conducted by scientists at the Third Military Medical University in Chongqing, China, it was found that tenuigenin could reduce chronic stress-induced damage to neurons and improve learning and memory retention.

It can also help treat insomnia—something that is very common for those suffering from mental health issues or wanting to supplement with a nootropic.

For those who struggle to get quality, restorative sleep can suffer from memory impairment and cognitive decline over time—a huge detriment for the mind.

To Summarize Polygala tenuifolia benefits:

  • Provides mood support
  • Eases anxiety
  • Improves sleep quality
  • Enhances creative thinking
  • Helps discharge repressed emotions

What about side effects?

Polygala tenuifolia is known to cause some mild gastrointestinal side effects such as loose stool and an upset stomach if taken in excess—especially when combined with caffeine (which may be why the root has also been used as a coffee substitute or additive).

While it is generally tolerable, you may want to start with the smallest effective dose when supplementing with this nootropic.

Polygala tenuifolia has also been known to interact with certain medications, so please consult your doctor or have a frank discussion before adding any new supplements into your routine.

Polygala tenuifolia and Neuroplasticity

In the realm of natural nootropics, enhancing neuroplasticity is always a highly desired outcome.

Enhancing neuroplasticity has the potential to improve cognitive performance and brain health.

Neuroplasticity is the ability of the brain to change in response to experience. It has been observed that neuroplasticity declines with age, which means your memory may not be what it used to be.

This also applies to memory since memories are thought to be stored by physically altering nerve connections, which are dependent on neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity can also be hampered in certain regions of the brain, which might result in depression.

The hippocampus is one of our brain's regions that are particularly vulnerable to this. It has been demonstrated in numerous studies that enhancing hippocampal neuroplasticity can have a significant impact on mood.

There are a few major neuroplasticity regulators.

The most significant ones being nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). Neuroplasticity can be significantly enhanced by boosting one of these.

Polygala tenuifolia's numerous compounds support the development and function of brain cells by increasing both NGF and BDNF.

This is why, as a powerful inducer of neuroplasticity, it increases both NGF and BDNF levels!

This is why we consider Polygala tenuifolia extract to be one of the finest stand-alone natural nootropics for boosting memory and improving mood.

How to Take Polygala tenuifolia

Polygala tenuifolia extract has a delicate flavor and contains only a tiny quantity of active ingredients, making it suitable for a variety of applications. Most Polygala tenuifolia extract supplements come in 100mg Polygala tenuifolia extract pills.

One capsule (100 mg) three times a day is ideal for optimum results. Polygala tenuifolia sublingual dosing is a fantastic way to get more immediate and powerful effects.

The sublingual route is used to deliver Polygala tenuifolia extracts for the treatment of sleep problems.

The active components in the extract are absorbed more quickly and achieve their target receptors faster when taken sublingually.

Polygala tenuifolia sublingual dosing has been discovered to be more stimulating and focus-boosting in numerous Polygala tenuifolia Reddit posts on the nootropics subreddit.

Polygala tenuifolia extract powder is also highly soluble in water and can be added to a range of beverages due to its mild and somewhat sweet flavor.

Polygala tenuifolia tea can be prepared as-is or infused with other herbs, such as ginseng and ephedra.

Because of this ability to combine various ingredients, it's easy to make Polygala tenuifolia extract part of your nootropic stack.

Polygala tenuifolia's long history of use lends itself to a wide range of applications, which is why it has been used in traditional medicine systems all over the world for thousands of years.

In Summary

Polygala tenuifolia is a nootropic found in traditional Chinese medicine.

It can be taken by itself or in combination with other nootropics to improve memory, mood, and neuroplasticity.

Polygala tenuifolia has been used for thousands of years due to its nootropic properties.

Polygala tenuifolia can be taken sublingually or added to tea infusions with other herbs. It's a fantastic addition to any nootropic stack.

The best dosage of Polygala tenuifolia is 100mg three times a day.