‘Heal all’ herb shows cognitive health benefits, for mice at least

By Stephen DANIELLS

- Last updated on GMT

‘Heal all’ herb shows cognitive health benefits, for mice at least

Related tags: Brain

Daily consumption of extracts from Prunella vulgaris var. lilacina may enhance cognitive function in lab mice, says a new study from South Korea.

Prunella vulgaris​ var. lilacina​ Nakai (Labiatae) is commonly known as the ‘self-heal’ herb or heal-all. It is widely distributed in Europe, Asia and North America.

New data from scientists from Kyung Hee University and CJ Foods R&D indicated that two weeks of intake of the ‘heal-all’ extract was found to directly or indirectly activate the NMDA receptor in nerve cells, which is linked to synaptic plasticity changes.

“The results of present study demonstrate that the sub-chronic administration of [the standardized ethanolic extract of ​Prunella vulgaris var. ​lilacina] EEPV enhanced cognitive performance in the passive avoidance task in normal naive mice,”​ they wrote in Phytotherapy Research​.

“To our knowledge, the present study marks the first report of the role of EEPV in cognitive improvement resulting from adult hippocampal neurogenesis and the activation of various signaling cascades.”

Study details

The Korea-based scientists investigated the effects of EEPV (25 or 50 mg/kg, p.o. for 14 days) on cognitive ability in lab mice.

Data from a step-through passive avoidance task to measure cognitive ability indicated that both doses were associated with significantly increased latency time in the retention trial, compared with the controls.

Results also indicated that the EEPV supplements were associated with increased neural cell proliferation and the number of immature neurons. However, no changes were observed for measures of the survival of newly generated cells in the hippocampal dentate gyrus.

"Our results indicate that EEPV may enhance cognitive function via the activation of various intracellular signaling molecules and the up-regulation of adult hippocampal neurogenesis,"​ wrote the researchers. 

Commenting on the potential bio-actives, the researchers point to rosmarinic acid as the key mediator of cognitive improvement. (Rosmarinic acid is also the key bioactive in Kemin's Neumentix proprietary spearmint extract for brain health​).

"[P]revious studies suggest that rosmarinic acid may play a role in the enhanced adult hippocampal neurogenesis and cognitive improvement that are induced by sub-chronic administration of EEPV. Nevertheless, further studies should be performed to clarify these issues,"​ they wrote. 

Source: Phytotherapy Research
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1002/ptr.5449
“Standardized ​Prunella vulgaris var. lilacina Extract Enhances Cognitive Performance in Normal Naive Mice”
Authors: S.J. Park, et al. 

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