Polygala Tenuifolia

Last Updated: June 22 2022

Polygala tenuifolia is a root used in traditional Chinese medicine for its ability to improve memory and protect against cognitive ailments. Limited human evidence suggests Polygala tenuifolia cannot improve memory, but may improve spatial awareness and organization.

Polygala Tenuifolia is most often used for

Summary

Polygala tenuifolia, also known as Yuan Zhi, is a root used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.

It has traditionally been used for its protective effects on the brain.

Preliminary animal evidence suggests that Polygala tenuifolia has an antidepressant effect in rats. Polygala tenuifolia may improve cognition, but more research is needed to confirm this effect.

Rodent research suggests that Polygala tenuifolia is similar in mechanism and effectiveness to ketamine, which interacts with N-methyl-D-aspartic acid and its receptors. Rodent studies assessing Polygala tenuifolia’s anti-amnesiac and adaptogen-like properties suggest that the herb can increase the level of compounds responsible for brain growth, like nerve growth factor (NGF) and brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF).

Though Polygala tenuifolia supplementation may slightly increase cognitive ability in elderly people, it has limited effect on healthy adults. Supplementing Polygala tenuifolia can improve spatial organization and recognition, but it does not improve short- or long-term memory formation, as measured by free or cued recall. Much more research is needed to determine if Polygala tenuifolia qualifies as a nootropic.

What else is Polygala Tenuifolia known as?
Note that Polygala Tenuifolia is also known as:
  • Yuan Zhi
  • Chinese Senega
Polygala Tenuifolia should not be confused with:
Dosage information

The only human studies on Polygala tenuifolia have used 100mg of an ethanolic extract called BT-11, three times a day, for a total daily dose of 300mg.

A traditional Chinese medicine remedy suggests taking 3-9 g (dry weight) of Polygala tenuifolia root through a water decoction, like tea or soup, to reduce forgetfulness.

Examine Database
References
1.^May BH1, Lu C, Lu Y, Zhang AL, Xue CCChinese herbs for memory disorders: a review and systematic analysis of classical herbal literatureJ Acupunct Meridian Stud.(2013 Feb)
2.^Dong XZ1, Huang CL2, Yu BY3, Hu Y2, Mu LH2, Liu P4Effect of Tenuifoliside A isolated from Polygala tenuifolia on the ERK and PI3K pathways in C6 glioma cellsPhytomedicine.(2014 Sep 15)
3.^Ikeya Y1, Takeda S, Tunakawa M, Karakida H, Toda K, Yamaguchi T, Aburada MCognitive improving and cerebral protective effects of acylated oligosaccharides in Polygala tenuifoliaBiol Pharm Bull.(2004 Jul)
8.^Shin IJ1, Son SU2, Park H2, Kim Y2, Park SH2, Swanberg K2, Shin JY2, Ha SK2, Cho Y1, Bang SY2, Lew JH2, Cho SH3, Maeng S2Preclinical evidence of rapid-onset antidepressant-like effect in Radix Polygalae extractPLoS One.(2014 Feb 10)
9.^Lv J1, Jia H, Jiang Y, Ruan Y, Liu Z, Yue W, Beyreuther K, Tu P, Zhang DTenuifolin, an extract derived from tenuigenin, inhibits amyloid-beta secretion in vitroActa Physiol (Oxf).(2009 Aug)
10.^Shin EJ1, Oh KW, Kim KW, Kwon YS, Jhoo JH, Jhoo WK, Cha JY, Lim YK, Kim IS, Kim HCAttenuation of cocaine-induced conditioned place preference by Polygala tenuifolia root extractLife Sci.(2004 Oct 22)
11.^Cai ZL1, Wang CY, Gu XY, Wang NJ, Wang JJ, Liu WX, Xiao P, Li CHTenuigenin ameliorates learning and memory impairments induced by ovariectomyPhysiol Behav.(2013 Jun 13)
12.^Jia H1, Jiang Y, Ruan Y, Zhang Y, Ma X, Zhang J, Beyreuther K, Tu P, Zhang DTenuigenin treatment decreases secretion of the Alzheimer's disease amyloid beta-protein in cultured cellsNeurosci Lett.(2004 Aug 26)
14.^Sun F1, Sun JD, Han N, Li CJ, Yuan YH, Zhang DM, Chen NHPolygalasaponin F induces long-term potentiation in adult rat hippocampus via NMDA receptor activationActa Pharmacol Sin.(2012 Apr)
15.^Wu MM1, Yuan YH, Chen J, Li CJ, Zhang DM, Chen NHPolygalasaponin F against rotenone-induced apoptosis in PC12 cells via mitochondria protection pathwayJ Asian Nat Prod Res.(2014 Jan)
16.^Xu TH1, Lv G, Xu YJ, Xie SX, Zhao HF, Han D, Si YS, Li Y, Niu JZ, Xu DMA novel triterpenoid saponin from Polygala tenuifolia WilldJ Asian Nat Prod Res.(2008 Jul-Aug)
17.^Xue W1, Hu JF, Yuan YH, Sun JD, Li BY, Zhang DM, Li CJ, Chen NHPolygalasaponin XXXII from Polygala tenuifolia root improves hippocampal-dependent learning and memoryActa Pharmacol Sin.(2009 Sep)
18.^She G1, Ba Y, Liu Y, Lv H, Wang W, Shi RAbsorbable phenylpropenoyl sucroses from Polygala tenuifoliaMolecules.(2011 Jun 29)
19.^Jin ZL1, Gao N1, Zhang JR2, Li XR1, Chen HX3, Xiong J1, Li YF3, Tang Y4The discovery of Yuanzhi-1, a triterpenoid saponin derived from the traditional Chinese medicine, has antidepressant-like activityProg Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry.(2014 Aug 4)
21.^Kuroda M, Shizume T, Mimaki YNew acylated triterpene glycosides from the roots of Polygala tenuifoliaNat Prod Commun.(2014 Mar)
24.^Shin KY1, Won BY, Heo C, Kim HJ, Jang DP, Park CH, Kim S, Kim HS, Kim YB, Lee HG, Lee SH, Cho ZH, Suh YHBT-11 improves stress-induced memory impairments through increment of glucose utilization and total neural cell adhesion molecule levels in rat brainsJ Neurosci Res.(2009 Jan)
25.^Choi JG1, Kim HG, Kim MC, Yang WM, Huh Y, Kim SY, Oh MSPolygalae radix inhibits toxin-induced neuronal death in the Parkinson's disease modelsJ Ethnopharmacol.(2011 Mar 24)
26.^Xin T1, Zhang F, Jiang Q, Chen C, Huang D, Lv Y, Shen W, Jin YPurification and antitumor activity of two acidic polysaccharides from the roots of Polygala tenuifoliaCarbohydr Polym.(2012 Nov 6)
27.^Xin T1, Zhang F, Jiang Q, Chen C, Huang D, Li Y, Shen W, Jin YExtraction, purification and antitumor activity of a water-soluble polysaccharide from the roots of Polygala tenuifoliaCarbohydr Polym.(2012 Oct 1)
28.^Lee JY1, Kim KY, Shin KY, Won BY, Jung HY, Suh YHEffects of BT-11 on memory in healthy humansNeurosci Lett.(2009 Apr 24)
29.^Shin KY1, Lee JY, Won BY, Jung HY, Chang KA, Koppula S, Suh YHBT-11 is effective for enhancing cognitive functions in the elderly humansNeurosci Lett.(2009 Nov 13)
30.^Xu SP1, Yang YY, Xue D, Liu JX, Liu XM, Fan TP, le Pan R, Li PCognitive-enhancing effects of polygalasaponin hydrolysate in aβ(25-35)-induced amnesic miceEvid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2011)
35.^Tomita M1, Hayashi M, Awazu SAbsorption-enhancing mechanism of sodium caprate and decanoylcarnitine in Caco-2 cellsJ Pharmacol Exp Ther.(1995 Feb)
36.^Cho SY1, Kim JS, Li H, Shim C, Linhardt RJ, Kim YSEnhancement of paracellular transport of heparin disaccharide across Caco-2 cell monolayersArch Pharm Res.(2002 Feb)
41.^Li Z1, Liu Y1, Wang L1, Liu X1, Chang Q1, Guo Z1, Liao Y1, Pan R1, Fan TP2Memory-Enhancing Effects of the Crude Extract of Polygala tenuifolia on Aged MiceEvid Based Complement Alternat Med.(2014)
42.^Park CH1, Choi SH, Koo JW, Seo JH, Kim HS, Jeong SJ, Suh YHNovel cognitive improving and neuroprotective activities of Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow extract, BT-11J Neurosci Res.(2002 Nov 1)
43.^Chung IW1, Moore NA, Oh WK, O'Neill MF, Ahn JS, Park JB, Kang UG, Kim YSBehavioural pharmacology of polygalasaponins indicates potential antipsychotic efficacyPharmacol Biochem Behav.(2002 Jan-Feb)
44.^Lee HJ1, Ban JY, Koh SB, Seong NS, Song KS, Bae KW, Seong YHPolygalae radix extract protects cultured rat granule cells against damage induced by NMDAAm J Chin Med.(2004)
45.^Maeng S1, Zarate CA Jr, Du J, Schloesser RJ, McCammon J, Chen G, Manji HKCellular mechanisms underlying the antidepressant effects of ketamine: role of alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid receptorsBiol Psychiatry.(2008 Feb 15)
47.^Bradley SR1, Uslaner JM, Flick RB, Lee A, Groover KM, Hutson PHThe mGluR7 allosteric agonist AMN082 produces antidepressant-like effects by modulating glutamatergic signalingPharmacol Biochem Behav.(2012 Mar)
48.^Autry AE1, Adachi M, Nosyreva E, Na ES, Los MF, Cheng PF, Kavalali ET, Monteggia LMNMDA receptor blockade at rest triggers rapid behavioural antidepressant responsesNature.(2011 Jun 15)
49.^Li N1, Lee B, Liu RJ, Banasr M, Dwyer JM, Iwata M, Li XY, Aghajanian G, Duman RSmTOR-dependent synapse formation underlies the rapid antidepressant effects of NMDA antagonistsScience.(2010 Aug 20)
50.^Hu Y1, Liu M, Liu P, Guo DH, Wei RB, Rahman KPossible mechanism of the antidepressant effect of 3,6'-disinapoyl sucrose from Polygala tenuifolia WilldJ Pharm Pharmacol.(2011 Jun)
51.^Chen Y1, Huang X, Chen W, Wang N, Li LTenuigenin promotes proliferation and differentiation of hippocampal neural stem cellsNeurochem Res.(2012 Apr)
53.^Bernal GM1, Peterson DANeural stem cells as therapeutic agents for age-related brain repairAging Cell.(2004 Dec)
54.^Chen YJ1, Huang XB, Li ZX, Yin LL, Chen WQ, Li LTenuigenin protects cultured hippocampal neurons against methylglyoxal-induced neurotoxicityEur J Pharmacol.(2010 Oct 25)
55.^Huang JN1, Wang CY, Wang XL, Wu BZ, Gu XY, Liu WX, Gong LW, Xiao P, Li CHTenuigenin treatment improves behavioral Y-maze learning by enhancing synaptic plasticity in miceBehav Brain Res.(2013 Jun 1)
56.^Liu P1, Hu Y, Guo DH, Wang DX, Tu HH, Ma L, Xie TT, Kong LYPotential antidepressant properties of Radix Polygalae (Yuan Zhi)Phytomedicine.(2010 Aug)
58.^Cheong MH1, Lee SR, Yoo HS, Jeong JW, Kim GY, Kim WJ, Jung IC, Choi YHAnti-inflammatory effects of Polygala tenuifolia root through inhibition of NF-κB activation in lipopolysaccharide-induced BV2 microglial cellsJ Ethnopharmacol.(2011 Oct 11)
59.^Kim HM1, Lee EH, Na HJ, Lee SB, Shin TY, Lyu YS, Kim NS, Nomura SEffect of Polygala tenuifolia root extract on the tumor necrosis factor-alpha secretion from mouse astrocytesJ Ethnopharmacol.(1998 Jul)
62.^Yao Y1, Jia M, Wu JG, Zhang H, Sun LN, Chen WS, Rahman KAnxiolytic and sedative-hypnotic activities of polygalasaponins from Polygala tenuifolia in micePharm Biol.(2010 Jul)
63.^Saruta J1, Lee T, Shirasu M, Takahashi T, Sato C, Sato S, Tsukinoki KChronic stress affects the expression of brain-derived neurotrophic factor in rat salivary glandsStress.(2010 Jan)
67.^Murrough JW1, Perez AM, Pillemer S, Stern J, Parides MK, aan het Rot M, Collins KA, Mathew SJ, Charney DS, Iosifescu DVRapid and longer-term antidepressant effects of repeated ketamine infusions in treatment-resistant major depressionBiol Psychiatry.(2013 Aug 15)
68.^Trujillo KA, Smith ML, Sullivan B, Heller CY, Garcia C, Bates MThe neurobehavioral pharmacology of ketamine: implications for drug abuse, addiction, and psychiatric disordersILAR J.(2011)
69.^Nagai T1, Suzuki Y, Kiyohara H, Susa E, Kato T, Nagamine T, Hagiwara Y, Tamura S, Yabe T, Aizawa C, Yamada HOnjisaponins, from the root of Polygala tenuifolia Willdenow, as effective adjuvants for nasal influenza and diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccinesVaccine.(2001 Sep 14)
70.^Choi YJ1, Yoon Y, Choi HS, Park S, Oh S, Jeong SM, Suh HR, Lee BHEffects of Medicinal herb Extracts and their Components on Steatogenic Hepatotoxicity in Sk-hep1 CellsToxicol Res.(2011 Dec)
71.^Zhang F1, Song X, Li L, Wang J, Lin L, Li C, Li H, Lv Y, Jin Y, Liu Y, Hu Y, Xin TPolygala tenuifolia polysaccharide (PTP) inhibits cell proliferation by repressing Bmi-1 expression and downregulating telomerase activityTumour Biol.(2014 Dec 13)
72.^Zhang F1, Song X, Li L, Wang J, Lin L, Li C, Li H, Lv Y, Jin Y, Liu Y, Hu Y, Xin TPolygala tenuifolia polysaccharide PTP induced apoptosis in ovarian cancer cells via a mitochondrial pathwayTumour Biol.(2014 Dec 12)
73.^Qiu Y1, Wang LG, Jia YF, Yang DT, Zhang MH, Zhang YP, Zhang LH, Gai LEffects of the crude extract of Polygala tenuifolia Willd on human sperm in vitroJ Zhejiang Univ Sci B.(2011 Jun)
74.^Müller-Hill B1, Beyreuther KMolecular biology of Alzheimer's diseaseAnnu Rev Biochem.(1989)
75.^Liang Z1, Shi F, Wang Y, Lu L, Zhang Z, Wang X, Wang XNeuroprotective effects of tenuigenin in a SH-SY5Y cell model with 6-OHDA-induced injuryNeurosci Lett.(2011 Jun 22)
76.^Yuan HL1, Li B, Xu J, Wang Y, He Y, Zheng Y, Wang XMTenuigenin protects dopaminergic neurons from inflammation-mediated damage induced by the lipopolysaccharideCNS Neurosci Ther.(2012 Jul)
77.^Park HK1, Jeon SG, Kim TB, Kang HR, Chang YS, Kim YK, Cho SH, Min KU, Kim YYOccupational asthma and rhinitis induced by a herbal medicine, Wonji (Polygala tenuifolia)J Korean Med Sci.(2005 Feb)