The peony flower grows wild in China, where it is called Shao Yao for “most beautiful,” and comes in a variety of colors ranging from light pink to dark maroon. It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant throughout the world, and now it is being extensively studied for its memory protection properties. While other herbs have been found to improve memory in animals with age-related and chemically induced memory loss, peony has a special distinction among these herbs. In much of the research on herbal memory-enhancing products the herbal extract must be given by injection because oral intake is much less effective, or even ineffective.
Low dosage makes peony extract different from other memory herbs
These herbs are often given in unrealistically high doses that do not correspond to typical traditional human intakes. Peony, and its unique phytochemical paeoniflorin, is very different because it is orally effective in very small doses. In fact, paeoniflorin is effective at doses as low as the equivalent of an adult person consuming only 700 micrograms daily. This is LESS THAN one milligram a day. Amazingly, higher doses of paeoniflorin are even more effective over a wide range of intake and have no side effects or toxicity.
Peony is special because it is very effective at improving both chemical and age-related memory losses in low doses. Not suprisingly, this has excited many scientists who now consider peony, and its unique phytochemical paeoniflorin, a potential major weapon in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and age-related memory problems. Unfortunately, as with most traditional herbs that have impressed scientists by their potential health benefits, but are not patentable, the day when doctors routinely use peony extract to treat memory problems may never come.
That notwithstanding, here is what scientists do know about peony extract:
- Stimulates the hippocampus—which is in the brain’s temporal lobe, and is responsible for storing new information—to enhance learning and memory. This is significant because in humans Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect the hippocampus first, before other parts of the brain.1
- Ameliorates spatial cognitive impairment in animals given an amnesia-producing drug.234
- Exerts a protective effect on brain neurons in animals during epileptic seizures.5
- Improves the ability to learn in animals with age-related learning deficits. The scientists concluded that peony has the therapeutic potential to treat senile dementia and aging-induced cognitive dysfunction.6
Traditional Chinese Medicines, like peony, have a promising role in the early treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia. One of its chief benefits is that it has low toxicity compared with pharmaceutical drugs and peony extract is extremely safe when used according to the recommended dosage.
Medical professionals agree that the sooner treatment is started the better the outcome. In order to prevent and/or delay memory loss, consider adding this safe and promising herb to your daily supplement regime.
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Tabata K, Matsumoto K, Murakami Y, Watanabe H. Ameliorative effects of paeoniflorin, a major constituent of peony root, on adenosine A1 receptor-mediated impairment of passive avoidance performance and long-term potentiation in the hippocampus. Biol Pharm Bull. 2001 May;24(5):496-500.
Tabata K, Matsumoto K, Watanabe H. Paeoniflorin, a major constituent of peony root, reverses muscarinic M1-receptor antagonist-induced suppression of long-term potentiation in the rat hippocampal slice. Jpn J Pharmacol. 2000 May;83(1):25-30.
Ohta H, Matsumoto K, Watanabe H, Shimizu M. Involvement of beta-adrenergic systems in the antagonizing effect of paeoniflorin on the scopolamine-induced deficit in radial maze performance in rats. Jpn J Pharmacol. 1993 Aug;62(4):345-9.
Ohta H, Ni JW, Matsumoto K, Watanabe H, Shimizu M. Peony and its major constituent, paeoniflorin, improve radial maze performance impaired by scopolamine in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1993 Jul;45(3):719-23.
Tsuda T, Sugaya A, Ohguchi H, Kishida N, Sugaya E. Protective effects of peony root extract and its components on neuron damage in the hippocampus induced by the cobalt focus epilepsy model. Exp Neurol. 1997 Aug;146(2):518-25.
Ohta H, Matsumoto K, Shimizu M, Watanabe H. Paeoniflorin attenuates learning impairment of aged rats in operant brightness discrimination task. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 1994 Sep;49(1):213-7.