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Learn how to increase brain plasticity and learn new things faster. This post explains how to inhibit the gene Nogo-A which results in an increased ability to create new neuronal connections.

Nogo-A is Critical In Controlling Plasticity


The Nogo Receptor 1 gene (also called Reticulon 4) is required to suppress high levels of plasticity in the adolescent brain and create the relatively low levels of plasticity in adulthood. In mice without this gene, juvenile levels of brain plasticity persist throughout adulthood. When researchers blocked the function of this gene in old mice, they reset the old brain to adolescent levels of plasticity. (R)

Researchers found that adult mice lacking Nogo Receptor recovered from injury as quickly as adolescent mice and mastered new, complex motor tasks more quickly than adults with the receptor. (R)

Researchers also showed that Nogo Receptor slows the loss of memories. Mice without Nogo receptor lost stressful memories more quickly, suggesting that manipulating the receptor could help treat post-traumatic stress disorder. (R)

Blocking Nogo can help:

Nogo-A inhibitors

After reading the ScienceDaily article, I set out to find a compound that can inhibit Nogo-A.  I was led to a forum that suggested two Chinese herbal mixtures, a drug called fasudil (which I have no interest in taking), and a ridiculous dose of vitamin E as inhibitors of Nogo-A.

Both Chinese formulations have around a dozen herbs, but after a quick scan, I guessed that the  culprit for the Nogo-A inhibition is catalpol, which is found in the herb Rehmannia.  I found a somewhat shady study that confirmed that catalpol inhibited Nogo-A (R).

Rehmannia is also used in Chinese herbology for recovery of stroke and traumatic brain injuries, which further strengthens that Catalpol is the active ingredient.

I also found a study that showed catalpol enhanced cortical neuron axonal growth in rats (R), an effect that could be attributed to Nogo-A inhibition.

Also, Catalpol increases hippocampal neuroplasticity and up-regulates PKC and BDNF in the aged rats (R).

Personal Experiences with Rehmannia

The first time I tried it I took a relatively large dose of about 35 grams because I liked the taste.  The suggested dose is about 5 grams when used chronically, but I only realized that posthoc.

I stupidly took it at night and my brain felt like it was on turbo boost and I wasn’t able to sleep much that night, even though I had already been sleep-deprived from the previous nights.

I experienced to a small degree the expected digestive heaviness that is attributed to it in TCM.

I noticed that it increases cortisol (which is supported by animal studies) and it has a distinct cognitive enhancing effect, different than anything else I’ve tried.

However, this substance isn’t for me.  I get flatulence whenever I try it.  If I take it at night it keeps me up and if I take it in the day I get fatigued – likely because it has lectins and I’m  lectin sensitive.

I’d recommend it to those that aren’t lectin sensitive.

Goes Well With

Rehmannia goes well Astragalus and is especially effective for wound repair.

I wouldn’t use any other source of Rehmannia except the linked to source.

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  • Chris James

    Did you take it powdered or make a tea out of it?

  • BieraK

    I’m thinking in doing an potent alcohol extract of this herb (the classical tincture with vodka)

    Do you think that with this method the herb can enhance their properties and reduce the side effects?

  • Judd Crane

    I’d also like to know your source of Rehmannia, please.


      Mountainroseherbs. Rehmannia is great for the brain but can cause gut permeability. I’m going to experiment with preparing it differently

  • louisstrydom77

    So what Rehmannia supplement would you recommend and at what dosage?

  • majkinetor

    There is no carcinogenic dose of vitamin E, you need to research that better. I am talking about full spectrum.

    Ita anti-cancer for 1:

    Its memory boosting for 2:
    Roles of Vitamins E and C on Neurodegenerative Diseases and Cognitive Performance

    You need them all for 3:
    Isoforms of Vitamin E Differentially Regulate Inflammation

    Its not toxic for 4:

    There is simply no toxic dose of vitamin E.

    Above studies are just from what I could remember right now, if I dig into the library picture would be much more complete, but, you have to do proper homework too.

    So, if you really want to boost your brain you should add it to your mix…


      The study with nogo inhibition referred to alpha tocopherol.

      Conclusion Dietary supplementation with vitamin E significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer among healthy men.

      At this stage I’d need a long term and rigorous clinical trial demonstrating that massive doses of alpha-tocopherol doesn’t cause cancer in humans when taken in pill form. If you have such studies, please share.

      1. majkinetor

        I wouldn’t take alpha in massive dosage. The dose used in that study is astronomical, equivalent to around 20g per day for humans.

        There is possibility that other vitamin E’s are also nogo inhibitors but nobody checked that. I would go with regular mixed tocopherols, ~1K IU because there is no downside to that.

        About your cancer study, authors have massive industrial ties so I am doubtful about results. It is also released in the time of important political changes against vitamins. Nevertheless, alpha tocopherol is probably not that good in isolation and I would certainly not take it alone, especially in above dose.

        1. SELFHACKED

          So we are in agreement, for the most part. I’m not willing to make the leap of faith with other forms of vitamin E or at a lower dose. Antioxidants like vitamin E may behave differently depending on the dose. But you are welcome to.


      2. majkinetor

        You are not taking leap of faith when we talk about adverse effects, but about NOGO inhibition. Health effects of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols are not debatable any more.

        I am not sure I would ingest such big amounts of almost any plant to be honest. That is the part of your faith I wouldn’t take :). When you say that your have such effects if you take it near night, I would say its toxicity of the plant, not that plant is suddenly restructuring your brain and improving on your plasticity after only few hours – that is impossible IMO.

        1. SELFHACKED

          Leap of faith with Nogo- Inhibition? Agreed. It’s just an interesting idea.

          I didn’t mean to infer that the effects that I felt from rehmannia were from nogo inhibition. It may have been a very small part of the effect, but catalpol works on the brain in multiple ways, so it’s unlikely to have had a large impact. Kids have neuroplastic brains and get tired all of the time. My experiences weren’t meant to indicate nogo inhibition; rather, it was just a log of my general experience with rehmannia.

        2. Ron

          Fact. Everything is always debatable, especially when it comes to our incomplete knowledge of the human organism and its health. Period.

          1. Ceridwen

            I can’t order this Chinese herb in Britain

            reply icon
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