Polygala tenuifolia, known in Traditional Chinese Medicine as Yuan Zhi (遠志), is an herbal with some very intriguing, novel properties. It acts on a wide array of receptors and systems in the body in ways unlike many of the other herbs I’ve reviewed here on Pill Scout.
Of the subjective reports of people who have taken it, it seems to improve mood and in one study on healthy people, improves memory.
Polygala tenuifolia appears to be both a possible nootropic and mood enhancer! Because use of this herb in this way is pretty new and exciting, there may be some contraindications for people who wish to take it long-term. Many of the more seasoned nootropics nerds do not have experience taking this one, especially not long-term, and there is no research in this area. Therefore I consider this an experimental herbal.
Nevertheless, I will briefly touch upon polygala’s researched benefits, anecdotal reports, and my own brief experiences with the extract from Nootropics Depot.
What Polygala can do, in short
Though most of the studies available right now use mostly animal models at this point, the findings so far are intriguing:
- Anti-depressive effects 1
- Adaptogenic effects 2
- Neuroprotective effects 3
- Decrease in MAO (monoamine oxidase) activity and increase in neurotransmitter activity across the board 4
User reports on Polygala
Bear in mind that these quotes are subjective, there is always the interjection of our good old friend “placebo effect” and “confirmation bias.”
[…] From the start, there were antidepressive effects, and a lift in mood (although the mood boost could be unpredictable). This has become stronger over time, and there is less and less mood volatility the longer I take it.
— Reddit user “striker_321” 5[…] Polygala changed my life dramatically. Never tried anything better than this in my whole life and I did lots.
The first thing I’ve noticed was that the memories that usually hurt, they don’t anymore. It’s like floating on a raft over troubled waters.
— Reddit user “condres” 6[…] The first times: Very noticeable sensation of being more alert or awake after 10-15 minutes. An increase in good mood within 30 minutes, moderate euphoria, non hypomanic feelings. […]
After a week: From day ~5 until today. Acute effects are still present somehow, but in a much more subtle way. Euphoria has disappeared, the increase in alertness is now enjoyable. I find that administration erases completely my tiredness. Repeated sensation of being myself again, memories that used to hurt me now feels nice. Huge increase in productivity, studying, writing or drawing under the influence of Polygala feels like cheating. My ability to concentrate and work improved some months ago with the [addition] of ALCAR, but it never have been above average, today I feel like it is virtually infinite […]
— Reddit user “edefakiel” 7
My experiences with Polygala tenuifolia
I used the Polygala tenuifolia extract from Nootropics Depot (see pricing in the next section.) Obviously your mileage may vary with different vendors and extracts.
With acute dosages, I notice a small amount of “pick me up” feelings, an easing of mood and so on. None of these are obvious to me, but I can tell it does something.
With 2 or 3 times dosages (~100mg each) taken days in a row, I notice less of the negative feelings associated with sexual climax 8. With regular dosing, my overall mood is superb; any underlying anxious or sad feelings fade away. Because of this, motivation is at a peak after taking it for a few days almost regardless of what else is happening in life. In other words, I notice a considerable overall difference in the sets of days that I do take it versus the days that I don’t (Because I forget. This one might be a good herb for encapsulation.)
If I stop taking Polygala after having taken it for a few days or more in a row, nothing bad happens. I go back to my old self without it. However, in my opinion, the beneficial effects are cumulative. They are definitely more noticeable over the long term rather than acutely, whether starting or stopping regular dosage.
Combinations: I have taken Polygala with my daily stack, with kratom. It doesn’t seem to enhance its effects, and if anything, it makes taking it with kratom a little unnecessary in terms of mood enhancement. I find it combines well with ashwagandha for mood. Goes well with CBD too.
Where to get Polygala Tenuifolia
You can find this one for now at Nootropics Depot starting at 30 g for $14.99. At the recommended dose of 100 mg 3x per day, this should last you about three months if dosed every day.
You can see on the product page that Nootropics Depot’s sample has been verified and analyzed by a third party lab as actual polygala tenuifolia extract. I can’t speak for other vendors at the moment.
If you’re looking to try a relatively new and interesting herbal for your mood, polygala is it. A lot of favorable reports about its abilities to clear up depressive feelings caught my eye, and made me wonder why this one had not become so popular yet. Nootropics Depot’s extract is on point, and so far my experience matches that of others who have already tried the stuff.
Though “Yuan Zhi” has been in Traditional Chinese Medicine for who knows how long, bear in mind that I still consider this one an “experimental” herb as, to my knowledge, it has not been utilized before in this sense of taking daily doses of an extract.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Based on preliminary studies in rats (PubMed) and assumed by Polygala’s effects on NMDA receptors; PubMed|
|2.||↑||Reducing cortisol; PubMed|
|4.||↑||Polygala tenuifolia — Examine.com|
|5.||↑||Polygala Tenuifolia Update After Three and a Half Weeks — Reddit /r/Nootropics|
|6.||↑||Polygala and a new point of view — Reddit /r/Nootropics|
|7.||↑||17 days on Polygala: Impressions. — Reddit /r/Nootropics|