Polygala teniufolia and its neuroprotective benefits


Polygala tenuifolia (Yuan Zhi) is an herb in the family Polygalaceae.

Polygala tenuifolia has demonstrated potent and extensive neuroprotection benefits. Studies have concluded that Polygala teniufolia tested in healthy adults produced:

  • Memory-enhancing effects [1]
  • Cognitive improvement [2]
  • Increases NGF secretion in astrocytes [3]
  • Potent antidepressant-like effects [4]
  • Inhibited MAO-A and MAO-B activity,
  • Blocked stress-induced elevations of plasma cortisol [5]
  • Improved hippocampal-dependent learning and memory [6]
  • Rescued stress-induced deficits in hippocampal neuronal plasticity and neurogenesis [[7]
  • Displays anti-inflammatory activity towards microglia [8]


[1] Lee J.-Y., Kim K.Y., Shin K.Y., Won B.Y., Jung H.Y., Suh Y.H. (2009). “Effects of BT-11 on memory in healthy humans”. Neuroscience Letters 454 (2): 111–114. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2009.03.024. PMID 19429065.

[2] Shin K.Y., Lee J.-Y., Won B.Y., Jung H.Y., Chang K.-A., Koppula S., Suh Y.-H. (2009). “BT-11 is effective for enhancing cognitive functions in the elderly humans”. Neuroscience Letters 465 (2): 157–159. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2009.08.033.

[3] Yabe T., Tuchida H., Kiyohara H., Takeda T., Yamada H. (2003). “Induction of NGF synthesis in astrocytes by onjisaponins of Polygala tenuifolia, constituents of kampo (Japanese herbal) medicine, Ninjin-yoei-to.”. Phytomedicine 10 (2-3): 106–14. doi:10.1078/094471103321659799. PMID 12725562.

[4] Jin Zeng-liang L., Gao Nana, Zhang Jian-rui R., et al (2014). “The discovery of Yuanzhi-1, a triterpenoid saponin derived from the traditional Chinese medicine, has antidepressant-like activity”. Progress in neuro-psychopharmacology & biological psychiatry. 53: 9–14. doi:10.1016/j.pnpbp.2014.02.013.

[5] Hu Yuan, Liu Ming, Liu Ping, Guo Dai-Hong H., Wei Ri-Bao B., Rahman Khalid. (2011). “Possible mechanism of the antidepressant effect of 3,6′-disinapoyl sucrose from Polygala tenuifolia Willd”. The Journal of pharmacy and pharmacology 63: 869–874. doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.2011.01281.x.

[6] Xue Wei, Hu Jin-feng, Yuan Yu-he, et al. (2009). “Polygalasaponin XXXII from Polygala tenuifolia root improves hippocampal-dependent learning and memory”. Acta Pharmacologica 30: 1211–1219. doi:10.1038/aps.2009.112.

[7] Hu Yuan, Liao Hong-Bo, Liu Ping, Dai-Hong Guo, Wang Yu-Yu, Rahman Khalid. (2009). “Antidepressant-like effects of 3,6′-disinapoyl sucrose on hippocampal neuronal plasticity and neurotrophic signal pathway in chronically mild stressed rats”. Neurochemistry International. doi:10.1016/j.neuint.2009.12.004

[8] Cheong Myung-Hee H., Lee Sang-Ryong R., Yoo Hwa-Seung S., et al. (2011). “Anti-inflammatory effects of Polygala tenuifolia root through inhibition of NF-κB activation in lipopolysaccharide-induced BV2 microglial cells.”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2011.08.008


BioFoundations.net – Yuan Zhi

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