A Combination of Essential Fatty Acids, Panax Ginseng Extract, and Green Tea Catechins Modifies Brain fMRI Signals in Healthy Older Adults

J Nutr Health Aging. 2018;22(7):837-846. doi: 10.1007/s12603-018-1028-2.


Objectives: To assess the effects of a combination of omega 3 essential fatty acids, green tea catechins, and ginsenosides on cognition and brain functioning in healthy older adults.

Design: Double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design randomized controlled trial with 26-day intervention phases and a 30-day washout period.

Setting: The Institute for Dementia Research and Prevention at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center.

Participants: Ten independently-living, cognitively-healthy older adults (mean age: 67.3 + 2.01 years).

Intervention: Daily consumption of an investigational product (trade name "Cerbella TM") consisting of an emulsified liquid combination of standardized fish oil, panax ginseng extract, and green tea catechins in a flavored base of lecithin phospholipids optimized to maximize bioavailability of the active ingredients.

Measurements: Before and after supplementation with the investigational product or placebo, participants completed cognitive tests including the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE), Stroop test, Digit Symbol Substitution Test (DSST), and Immediate and Delayed Recall tests, as well as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) during a standard cognitive task switching paradigm.

Results: Performance on the MMSE, Stroop test, and DSST increased significantly over one month of supplementation with the investigational product (one-sample t tests, p<.05) although differences between these changes and corresponding changes during supplementation with placebo were not significant (two-sample t tests, p>.05). During supplementation with the investigational product, brain activation during task performance increased significantly more than during supplementation with placebo in brain regions known to be activated by this task (anterior and posterior cingulate cortex). Functional connectivity during task execution between task regions (middle frontal gyrus and anterior cingulate cortex) increased significantly during supplementation with the investigational product, relative to placebo. Functional connectivity during rest between task regions (precentral gyrus and middle frontal gyrus) and default mode network regions (medial frontal gyrus and precuneus) decreased during supplementation with the investigational product relative to placebo, suggesting greater segregation of task and rest related brain activity.

Conclusion: One-month supplementation with a combination of omega 3 essential fatty acids, green tea catechins, and ginsenosides was associated with suggestive changes in cognitive functioning as well as modification of brain activation and brain functional connectivity in cognitively healthy older adults.

Keywords: Cognitive aging; fMRI; fish oil; green tea catechins; panax ginseng extract.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Brain / drug effects
  • Brain / physiology*
  • Catechin / pharmacology*
  • Cognition / drug effects*
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Fatty Acids, Essential / pharmacology*
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3 / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Fish Oils / pharmacology*
  • Gyrus Cinguli / drug effects
  • Gyrus Cinguli / physiology
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Panax / chemistry
  • Parietal Lobe / drug effects
  • Parietal Lobe / physiology
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / drug effects
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology
  • Rest
  • Stroop Test
  • Task Performance and Analysis
  • Tea / chemistry


  • Fatty Acids, Essential
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Oils
  • Plant Extracts
  • Tea
  • Catechin