Polygala tenuifolia supplements may improve cognitive function in the elderly and memory in healthy people. Learn more about this fantastic product in our latest post.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD
Polygala Tenuifolia Root Benefits & Side Effects
Thanks to the increased interest in Nootropic supplements, Polygala tenuifolia has seen a rise in interest for those looking for natural health remedies. It has also gained popularity due to its uses for cognitive disabilities like dementia.
What is Polygala Tenuifolia?
Polygala Tenuifolia is a flowering plant native to China. Its name comes from the ancient Greek term “much milk” because it increased the amount of milk produced in cattle. The plant is also known as “snakeroots” or “milkworts.” In traditional Chinese medicine, it is referred to as “yuan zhi” and used for many things, including forgetfulness, insomnia, and neurasthenia, a condition linked to irritability and emotional disturbances.
Benefits of Polygala Tenuifolia
Even though it has been used for thousands of years, researchers are studying Polygala Tenuifolia to gauge its effectiveness and potential benefits. Research on Polygala Tenuifolia using lab animals has uncovered the following:
Memory & Learning
Many Asian countries use Polygala Tenuifolia to enhance memory. Current research using aged mice found that Polygala tenuifolia extract improved the memory function, most likely “via its antioxidant properties and via decreasing the activities of MAO (monoamine oxidase) and AChE (acetylcholinesterase).” 
In another study, the extract of dried root of Polygala Tenuifolia potentially has protective effects against neuronal death and cognitive impairments in Alzheimer's disease. It can assist with other neurodegenerative diseases related to excitotoxicity and central cholinergic dysfunction. 
Anxiety and Stress
Polygala Tenuifolia helps rodents exposed to chronic mild stress. Chronic stress can occur when a person goes through extended periods of tension triggered by stressful situations. When experiencing anxiety, the body releases stress hormones, which is normal. However, too many of these hormones could be harmful if the stress continues over the long term. A study on Polygala tenuifolia found that it reduced cortisol levels in rats, creating a “potentially antidepressant-like activity.” 
>Antidepressants are medications designed to help relieve various feelings of depression, including worthlessness, anxiety, and low mood. Polygala Tenuifolia has shown signs of helping as an antidepressant in studies. A study found that Polygala tenuifolia could reverse the chronic mild stress model of depression in rats. Also, researchers note Polygala Tenuifolia possessed an antidepressant property that stimulated the neuroendocrine and neuroprotective systems. 
Side Effects of Polygala Tenuifolia
Even though Polygala tenuifolia has been used for thousands of years, researchers are still determining its potential side effects. With short term use, there are few side effects—but long-term users could experience any of the following symptoms:
- Stomach irritation
Another potential side effect is allergies induced by herbal materials: An individual who worked in an herbal factory for eight years complained of asthma and rhinitis symptoms. After careful evaluation, doctors concluded long-term exposure to PT caused bronchoconstriction, the constriction of the lungs’ airways that can cause coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing . As a result, Polygala Tenuifolia should be used in moderation, and talking with a doctor before using Polygala Tenuifolia is advised.
Polygala tenuifolia has been used for thousands of years to treat various mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, improving memory and cognitive function. Today, Polygala Tenuifolia is in a variety of supplements that deal with cognitive function and memory:
Neurosyn - Neuro-Cognitive Memory Support helps improve memory, cognition, and healthy aging of the brain and improve neurological health.
Fire Sedate - Pacify The Spirit is an all-natural product that helps to soothe a “runaway, overly effervescent spirit” as well as relax emotions and expressions that may be considered hyper. This product supports the health of the small intestines, kidneys, and nervous system.
Medical Disclaimer: This article is based upon the opinions of Revelation Health. The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. It is intended as a sharing of knowledge and information from the research and experience of Revelation Health and associates. This article has been medically reviewed by Dr. Charles Penick, MD for accuracy of the information provided, but Revelation Health encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional.
 Zongyang Li 1, Yamin Liu 1, Liwei Wang, (et al). Memory-Enhancing Effects of the Crude Extract of Polygala tenuifolia on Aged Mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:392324. doi: 10.1155/2014/392324. Epub 2014 Mar 12. [PMID: 24744810] PMCID: PMC3972950. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24744810/
 Cheol Hyoung Park 1, Se Hoon Choi, Ja-Wook Koo, (et al). Novel Cognitive Improving and Neuroprotective Activities of Polygala Tenuifolia Willdenow Extract, BT-11. J Neurosci Res. 2002 Nov 1;70(3):484-92. doi: 10.1002/jnr.10429. [PMID: 12391609] DOI: 10.1002/jnr.10429.https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12391609/
 Yan-Yan Yin 1, Liang Ming, Li-Fang Zheng, (et al). Bioactive Compounds From Paecilomyces Tenuipes Regulating The Function Of The Hypothalamo-Hypophyseal System Axis In Chronic Unpredictable Stress Rats. Chin Med J (Engl). 2007 Jun 20;120(12):1088-92. [PMID: 17637227].https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17637227/
 Yuan Hu 1, Ping Liu, Dai-Hong Guo, Khalid Rahman, (et al). Antidepressant Effects Of The Extract YZ-50 From Polygala Tenuifolia In Chronic Mild Stress Treated Rats And Its Possible Mechanisms. Pharm Biol. 2010 Jul;48(7):794-800. doi: 10.3109/13880200903280034. [PMID: 20645779] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20645779/
 Hye-Kyung Park 1, Seong-Gyu Jeon, Tae-Bum Kim (et al).Occupational Asthma And Rhinitis Induced By A Herbal Medicine, Wonji (Polygala Tenuifolia). J Korean Med Sci. 2005 Feb;20(1):46-9. doi: 10.3346/jkms.2005.20.1.46. [PMID: 15716601] PMCID: PMC2808574. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15716601/