Natural supplements Guayusa tea and Lion’s Mane boost cognitive performance, study finds

In a recent article published in the journal Nutrients, researchers assess the effects of AmaTea® Max (AMT) and Nordic Lion’s Mane (LM) on subjective cognitive perception and objective cognitive performance.

Study: Acute Effects of Naturally Occurring Guayusa Tea and Nordic Lion’s Mane Extracts on Cognitive Performance. Image Credit: photo_gonzo / Shutterstock.com Study: Acute Effects of Naturally Occurring Guayusa Tea and Nordic Lion’s Mane Extracts on Cognitive Performance. Image Credit: photo_gonzo / Shutterstock.com

What are AMT and LM?

AMT is made from Guayusa tea extract, which naturally grows in parts of the upper Amazon basin and is generally considered safe (GRAS) for consumption. AMT consists of various other compounds, including methylxanthines, phenols, chlorogenic acids, and terpenoids.

Guayusa tea leaves are known for their stimulating and antioxidant properties. The caffeine component within these leaves enhances cognition and mood by blocking adenosine receptors in dopamine-rich areas of the brain, which increases brain alertness, activity, and processing potential. Likewise, chlorogenic acids in Guayusa tea improve executive function and psychomotor speed; however, their mechanism of action is unclear.

LM originates from an edible mushroom, Hericium erinaceus, and is also a GRAS food. LM primarily consists of compounds that confer protective effects on cognition and are generally neuroprotective, such as phenols, β-glucan polysaccharides, sterols, and myconutrients.

Some of the different compounds present in H. erinaceus have been shown to prevent and delay neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease (PD). H. erinaceus compounds are also associated with neurotrophic and anticarcinogenic effects.

About the study

Each participant’s medical history and 24-hour diet recall were discussed at the index visit, and blood samples were obtained. All study participants were also subjected to three sets of neuropsychological assessments encompassing Serial Sevens, Go/No-go, and N-Back tasks that assessed their attention, memory, and decision-making. All participants also refrained from exercise and alcohol 24 hours prior, caffeine 12 hours prior, and completed eight-hour fasting before all testing sessions.

During testing visits two, three, and four, baseline testing before acute supplementation was performed, followed by subjective questionnaires at 60 and 120 minutes following AMT or LM ingestion. All study participants were also graded based on visual analog scales (VAS) and a four-item subjective happiness scale (SHS), in addition to undergoing three neuropsychological assessment tasks. 

VAS assessed focus, mood, mental clarity, concentration, productivity, and ability to tolerate stress, whereas SHS assessed happiness, happiness compared to peers, ability to enjoy life, and unhappiness. The neuropsychological assessments evaluated mental processing, reaction time, cognitive control, attentiveness, and vital signs, blood pressure (BP), and heart rate. Any changes to vitals indicated potential physiological changes associated with the supplementation.

Study findings

A total of 40 people between 18 and 50 years of age were included in the study, 22 of whom were women and 18 were men. Study participants had a body mass index (BMI) ranging between 18.5 and 39.9 and were habitual coffee drinkers who consumed caffeine in moderate amounts of 240 mg or less each day.

In the Go/No-go task, AMT improved reaction time from baseline to the stimulatory response in the first hour. These reaction times were maintained during the second hour.

Meanwhile, LM also improved reaction time to the stimulatory response at 120 min, thus suggesting a delayed response to the ingestion of the supplement. Caffeine likely positively influenced psychomotor tasks and preparatory attention as needed in the Go/No-go challenge.

In the Serial Sevens test, AMT had more errors than placebo at 60 minutes; however, this improved at 120 minutes. Comparatively, in the N-Back test, AMT significantly improved accuracy and speed in the first and second hours.

On VAS, AMT significantly improved mental clarity, focus, concentration, mood, and productivity at 60 and 120 minutes following ingestion. AMT supplementation was also associated with significantly greater cognitive responses than LM and PL at 60 and 120 minutes.

Due to the presence of bioactive compounds within AMT, such as epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) and theanine, this supplement was also associated with a greater potential to handle stress; however, it had no effects on subjective jitteriness. AMT significantly improved the ability to tolerate stress at 60 minutes. In SHS, LM influenced the happiness scale at 60 minutes, whereas AMT did so at 120 minutes. 

AMT increased SBP and DBP at 60 minutes and maintained higher values at 120 minutes while reducing HR. All conditions were well tolerated, with minimal and only mild adverse events reported.

Conclusions

AMT markedly improved cognitive performance and perceptions of happiness over two hours post-ingestion. Comparatively, the continuous intake of LM improved working memory, complex attention, reaction time, and perceptions of happiness.

Future studies should utilize electroencephalography (EEG)-correlated functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) data to gain additional insights into the observed cognitive improvements associated with AMT and LM supplementation.

Journal reference:
  • La Monica, M. B., Raub, B., Ziegenfuss, E.J., et al. (2023). Acute Effects of Naturally Occurring Guayusa Tea and Nordic Lion’s Mane Extracts on Cognitive Performance. Nutrients 15. doi:10.3390/nu15245018
Neha Mathur

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Neha Mathur

Neha is a digital marketing professional based in Gurugram, India. She has a Master’s degree from the University of Rajasthan with a specialization in Biotechnology in 2008. She has experience in pre-clinical research as part of her research project in The Department of Toxicology at the prestigious Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), Lucknow, India. She also holds a certification in C++ programming.

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