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Spicing up memory: Wasabi found to spice up brainpower in seniors

Spicing up memory: Wasabi found to spice up brainpower in seniors

In a recent study published within the journal Nutrients, researchers examined the effect of wasabi, a standard Japanese spice containing 6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate (6-MSITC) with known anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties, on the cognitive function of healthy adults above the age of 60 years.

Study: Advantages of Wasabi Supplements with 6-MSITC (6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate) on Memory Functioning in Healthy Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: Evidence from a Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial. Image Credit: Created with the help of DALL·E 


A decline in cognitive function is a natural a part of aging and profoundly impacts each day life and activities. Due to this fact, extensive research has focused on improving cognitive function and slowing the speed of age-related cognitive decline. Studies have reported that nutrition is one in every of the most important aspects influencing cognitive function in older adults, and specific diets reminiscent of the Mediterranean food regimen, consisting of huge amounts of vegetables and fruits, can significantly improve memory functions and cognition.

Recent research also reports that the inclusion of herbs and spices, reminiscent of garlic and ginger, can improve cognition and memory functions in older adults, no matter the occurrence of dementia. Moreover, spices and herbs might be easily incorporated into the food regimen as flavoring agents. Wasabi is a Japanese spice with various bioactive compounds reminiscent of 6-MSITC which are anti-oxidant and anti inflammatory, and provided that various studies have reported positive effects of anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant compounds on cognitive performances in older adults, the advantages of wasabi have to be explored further.

Concerning the study

In the current study, the researchers examined the impact of 12 weeks of wasabi intake in older adults. They hypothesized that 6-MSITC intake would lead to improvements in working and episodic memory, inhibition performances, and processing speeds in older adults. They conducted a randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial where the testers and the participants were unaware of the hypothesis being tested, and the researchers, testers, and participants were blinded to the intervention.

The Frontal Assessment Battery and the Mini-Mental State Examination, together with the Geriatric Depression Scale, were used to screen the participants. Physical health reports and medical histories, including any food allergies, were verified in the course of the recruitment process. Only right-handed individuals with no known food allergies and who were native Japanese speakers were included within the study.

The participants were required to be between 60 and 80 years of age, with no history of diabetes, mental disorders, cardiac disease, or cranial nerve disease. Individuals who were on medications that might interfere with their cognitive functioning or those that were heavy alcohol drinkers were excluded. The chosen participants were, on average, 65 years old, and the group consisted mainly of females. They were randomly assigned to the 6-MSITC or placebo group.

The intervention was administered as a tablet, taken once a day just before bedtime. All of the participants were asked to record their complement intake, and the records were used to confirm their adherence to the intervention. The wasabi tablet contained 100 milligrams of the wasabi extract, which has 0.8 milligrams of 6-MSITC.

The baseline cognitive assessments were conducted using Japanese versions of the Japanese Reading Ability Test, Mini-Mental State Examination, and Frontal Assessment Battery to evaluate general intelligence quotient, general cognitive functions, and frontal lobe functions, respectively. Post-intervention cognitive assessments were conducted using various standardized cognitive assessments reminiscent of symbol search, digit symbol coding, Stroop task, digit cancellation task, and coloured progressive matrices task.


The outcomes reported that the group that was administered wasabi supplements containing 6-MSITC showed significantly higher performances in episodic and dealing memory as in comparison with the group that was administered the placebo. Nonetheless, no significant improvements were observed in any of the opposite cognitive domains.

The logical memory and face and second name tests showed that a 12-week-long administration of wasabi supplements showed improved verbal episodic memory performance in addition to higher performance in associating faces and names, which is commonly the foremost memory-related problem in older adults.

The potential mechanisms through which 6-MSITC could improve episodic and dealing memory included the reduction of inflammation and oxidant levels within the hippocampus, which plays an important role in memory functions. The decreased oxidant and inflammatory levels within the brain could also improve brain functions reminiscent of neural plasticity.


Overall, the findings reported that wasabi supplements containing 6-MSITC improved episodic and dealing memory functions in older adults after a 12-week-long administration. Nonetheless, other cognitive functions weren’t found to enhance in association with the 6-MSITC supplementation.

Journal reference:

  • Nouchi, R., Natasha, Saito, T., Nouchi, H., & Kawashima, R. (2023). Advantages of Wasabi Supplements with 6-MSITC (6-Methylsulfinyl Hexyl Isothiocyanate) on Memory Functioning in Healthy Adults Aged 60 Years and Older: Evidence from a Double-Blinded Randomized Controlled Trial. Nutrients, 15(21). https://doi.org/10.3390/nu15214608https://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/15/21/4608


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