Polygala health benefits include supporting healthy brain function, learning and memory, creativity and awareness, sleep, and relaxation.
Polygala tenuifolia (Yuan Zhi, Seneca, Chinese Senega) is an extract that is valued for its healing powers and offers tremendous health benefits. Native to China, Polygala is a nootropic, an adaptogen, and an antioxidant, and it is believed to increase energy, intelligence, and cognition. Polygala is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in Traditional Chinese Medicine.
Polygala has an incredible number of uses, as we will explore below.
Scientific Research on Polygala
Here’s what a study in Phytotherapy Research has to say about Polygala health benefits: “[Polygala] tenuifolia root extract promotes the proliferation of neural stem cells. In addition, this extract promoted the neurite outgrowth of rat neuronal precursor cells, HiB5. These activities of [Polygala] tenuifolia root extract may contribute to the therapeutic benefits of herbal medicines containing P. tenuifolia root for the treatment of patients with insomnia, neurosis and dementia.”
In sum, Polygala tenuifolia is regularly used to treat a variety of mental and stress-related ailments. However, it’s not recognized as a drug or a medical treatment by the FDA in the United States.
To be clear, we’re not suggesting that Polygala can be used as a treatment for a specific disease. Instead, we will discuss the Polygala health benefits recognized in Traditional Chinese Medicine. Polygala offers a broad spectrum of support, which is why we believe it’s a valuable health supplement. The goal here is to provide some understanding of the multiple body systems with which Polygala interacts.
Polygala tenuifolia: the Will Strengthener
Polygala is often called the Will Strengthener. Below, we’ll review Polygala health benefits and some of Polygala’s more common therapeutic uses.
Stress: Polygala is an adaptogenic herb. Adaptogens help the body combat the effects of stress and enable the body to function normally during traumatic periods. Polygala helps maintain the balance of the nerves when you’re under stress. It is thought to relax the soul, calm the heart, and ease restlessness and anxiety. One study in mice suggest that Polygala extracts can selectively modulate protein kinase A and p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase signaling pathways, thereby alleviating stress induced dermatitis.
Healthy Brain Function and Creativity: The Chinese name for Polygala, Yuan Zhi, translates to “high aspirations.” Widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, Polygala is valued for its reputed ability to provide protection to the brain. Polygala health benefits include its potential ability to rejuvenate the mind, support meditation, and increase clarity of thought. Its adherents believe that it improves creative thinking, enhances dreaming, and enhances manifested ideas.
Research shows that Polygala tenuifolia extract can go beyond simply being neuroprotective and can promote neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation, pushing the plant into a special category of nootropics that supports new brain cell growth.
Aging and Cognition: Polygala is frequently used to support the treatment of cognitive deficits and to improve learning and memory. It is often recommended for geriatric concerns because of its ability to improve memory and protect against cognitive ailments. Buddhist monks use it to support meditation and focus.
Inflammation: Polygala extracts are traditionally used to reduce inflammation. Scientific studies support this traditional use. Research suggests that the anti-inflammatory activity of Polygala occurs via the reduced production of inflammatory cytokines, suppression of nitric oxide and Cox-2, and inhibition of the translocation of the master-regulator of inflammation NF-κB in macrophages (white blood cells).
Lung Conditions: Polygala extract has been used to promote a healthy respiratory system. It is used to treat inflammation of the throat, nose, and chest and to treat lung conditions including asthma, chronic bronchitis, whooping cough and emphysema.
Energy and Awareness: Polygala is believed to increase energy, intelligence, and awareness.
Sleep: It is thought that Polygala root can empower the sleep process by discharging repressed emotions and relaxing the body.
Emotional Stability: In traditional Chinese medicine terms, Polygala tenuifolia balances the qi of the heart and kidneys, thereby enhancing emotional stability and promoting healthy mood. The extracts appear to have antioxidant and immune system-supporting properties.
Polygala Health Benefits
This long list of Polygala health benefits indicates that Polygala tenuifolia interacts with the respiratory, circulatory, nervous, renal, and integumentary body systems. Polygala root is considered antibacterial, cardiotonic, cerebrotonic, expectorant, haemolytic, and hypotensive. Today, it’s generally recognized that Polygala supports a whole healthy lifestyle approach related to issues with cardiovascular disease, immunity, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, psychological stress, and neurocognition.
There is good reason to believe that a lifestyle-related approach to optimal health will benefit from support from Polygala tenuifolia extract as a health supplement.