Nootropics come in all shapes and sizes. Some are amino acids, others are herbs, and still others are synthetic drugs (like modafinil, discussed in last week’s edition). But you’ve never encountered a nootropic compound quite like today’s product.
Natrol Cognium is a new single-ingredient nootropic that’s derived from silkworms of all things! And unlike many other nootropics on the market, this one actually has a fairly sizeable amount of research backing it as an effective brain boosting and anti-aging supplement.
You may have seen the ingredient before, but if not, get ready to meet Cera-Q.
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Cognium’s lone ingredient is Cera-Q®, a trademarked form of silk protein hydrolysate derived from fibroin, the primary protein in silkworm cocoons. Cera-Q is standardized from 60% silk protein hydrolysate, and each serving of Cognium contains 100mg of the brain-boosting protein.
Note: You might also see Cera-Q labeled as BF-7, Brain Factor-7, in several of the research studies. Whatever you want to call it, it’s certainly more appealing sounding than “hydrolyzed silkworm cocoon protein”!
As we mentioned up top, Cera-Q has been extensively tested in humans, and so far nine clinical studies have been completed demonstrating significant improvements in memory and cognition after only four weeks of use. But the list of benefits doesn’t end there:
Increased Cerebral Blood Flow
Imaging studies done on individuals consuming Cera-Q find that it enhances cerebral blood flow and glucose to certain areas of the brain which are responsible for cognition and memory.
Cera-Q is also able to defend the body against reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have can increase inflammation and hinder immune system function. Specifically, when subjects were given the protein, ROS were 65% lower in subjects treated with Cera-Q.
A 2004 study in Korea enlisted 13 men and 53 women with an average age of 42. Subjects consumed either placebo, 200mg, or 400mg of Cera-Q daily for three weeks.
Individuals then completed the Digit Symbol Test portion the Korean-Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, which is used to measure age, brain damage, depression, dementia. Following the three week trial, the group consuming 200mg and 400mg worth of Cera-Q improved scores by 11.3% and 22.2%, respectively, while the placebo group experienced no improvement over baseline testing.
Another Korean study recruited 99 healthy Korean adults and had them consume either placebo, 200mg, or 400mg of Cera-Q daily for three weeks, then perform the Rey-Kim Memory Test, which measure auditory and visual memory.
As expected the placebo group saw no significant improvements, but the two Cera-Q groups demonstrated significant improvements in memory, measured by word recall in a dose-dependant manner.
Additionally, subjects also experienced an improvement in memory quotient (MQ), which is “the most direct index reflecting memorizing ability.” And, low memory quotient is also associated with impaired logic and memory recall.
Upregulates Acetylcholine production
The same human study which showed significant improvements in memory, also found that giving Cera-Q to rats was able to increase acetylcholine production, which is important in preserving cognitive function as acetylcholine levels tend to decline throughout life.
Improves Math Skills
Cera-Q isn’t just great for memory and word recall, it can also enhance your mathematical abilities too! The Paced Auditory Serial Addition Test (PASAT) measures cognitive function by measuring processing speed and flexibility, as well as calculation ability. A 2009 study had subjects consume 10mg of Cera-Q mixed with 200mL of plain milk and then perform the PASAT.
According to the researchers:
“BF-7 milk significantly enhanced the memory, attention, and mathematical abilities of the students. The number of errors made by students taking the Gronwall version of the PASAT was dramatically reduced from an average of 1.46 (before BF-7 milk intake) to 0.42 (after BF-7 milk intake for 30 d)” 
As you’d expect, Cera-Q also improves one’s learning ability, which can most likely be attributed to the protein’s ability to enhance acetylcholine production in the body.[4,5,6,9] Acetylcholine is the “learning neurotransmitter” after all!
Attentiveness is crucial to successful learning, memorization, and basically being productive in everyday life. In other words, if you’re not “with it”, you’re not much use to anyone (including yourself). Cera-Q has been shown across several trials to not only improve learning, memory, and cognition, but also increased attentiveness in both the young and old.[6,7,12]
Effective for Children too!
Cera-Q isn’t just for adults, several trials have investigated its effects on young, healthy children and found that it works there too. In particular, children receiving Cera-Q have demonstrated improved learning, memory, attention, and cognition.[7,8,9]
How the Cera-Q in Cognium is Made
As you can imagine, extracting silkworm cocoon proteins aren’t the easiest things in the world to do. In order to extract the protein, researchers place the silkworm cocoon in a solution of water and a proprietary mix of enzymes to isolate the fibroin protein. The enzymes then break the fibroin protein strands into shorter peptide chains of amino acids. From there, the resulting mixture is dried to remove the water so all you’re left with is the powdered protein.
Consume 1 tablet in the morning and 1 tablet in evening with a meal.
Who’s ready to start chowing down on some silkworm cocoons?!
Well, maybe you don’t have to go quite that far, but there’s definitely something going on here with Cera-Q, a.k.a. BF-7. Natrol Cognium represents an easy way for those of you intrigued by Cera-Q to get a taste of its effects with no other confounding ingredients like stimulants or other nootropics.
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- Lee SH, Kim YS, Kim SS, Kang YK, Lee MY, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Lee WB, Kim DY. Association between cerebral blood flow and cognitive improvement effect by B. mori extracted compound. Kor J Seric Sci 2004a; 46(2):77-79.
- Chae HS, Kang YK, Shin YK, Lee HJ, Yu JI, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Kim YS, Sohn DS, Kim KY, Lee WB, Lee SH, Kim SS. The role of BF-7 on neuroprotection and enhancement of cognitive function. Kor J Physiol Pharmacol 2004 Aug;8:173-179.
- Lee MY, Lee SH, Lee JS, Min KJ, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Kwon HJ, Lee JK, Kang YK, Lee DY, Chung HY, Kim KY, Kim SS, Lee WB. BF-7 improved memory function and protected neurons from oxidative stress. Kor J Phys Anthropol 2004c;17(4):313-320. https://synapse.koreamed.org/DOIx.php?id=10.11637/kjpa.2004.17.4.313&vmode=PUBREADER
- Kim DK, Kang YK, Lee MY, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Lee WB, Kim YS, Kim SS. Neuroprotection and enhancement of learning and memory by BF-7. J Health Sci 2005; 51(3):317-324
- Nikolov R. Alzheimer’s disease therapy – an update. Drug News Perspect. 1998;11(4):248-255. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15616667
- Kim DH, Lee HJ, Choi G, Kim OH, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Lee JY, Lee SH, Youn C, Lee JH, Paik HD, Lee WB, Kim SS, Jung HY. Milk containing BF-7 enhances the learning and memory, attention, and mathematical ability of normal persons. Korean J Food Sci Ani Resour. 2009a;29(2):278-282. http://docdro.id/EJwirpS
- Kim K, Park S, Yoo HK, Lee JY, Jung HY, Kim DH, Lee HJ, Kim JY, Young C, Marshall MR, Kim SS, Jeong Y. Brain Factor-7 Extracted from Bombyx mori Enhances Cognition and Attention in Normal Children. J. Med Food. 2009c; 12(3):643-648
- Kim DH, Kim OH, Yeo JH, Lee KG, Park GD, Kim DJ, Chung YH, Kim KY, Lee WB, Youn YC, Chung Y, Lee SH, Hyun JS. The improvement of short- and long-term memory of young children by BF-7. J Korean Soc Food Sci Nutr. 2010b;39(3):376-382. Korea
- Lee SH, Kim YS, Kim SS, Kang YK, Kwon OS, Shin YK, Song JH, Lee MY, Lee KG, Yeo JH, Lee WB, Lee TJ, Kim SS. The improvement of learning and memory ability of normal persons by BF-7. Kor J Physiol Pharmacol 2004b Dec; 8:307-312.
- Lee JY, Lee SH, Sung JJ, Kim ET, Cho HJ, Kim KH, Kang YK, Kim SS, Kwon OS, Lee WB. The effect of BF-7 on the ischemia-induced learning and memory deficits. Kor J Anat 2005; 38(2):181-188. Korean.
- Kang YK et al. Memory Enhancing Effects of Silk Fibroin Derived Peptides in Scopolamine Treated Mice. Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology. 2013: 23:1779-1784.
- Kim DK, Lee JY, Sung JJ, Kim ET, Kim YS, Kwon OS, Yun YC, Lee TJ, Kang YK, Chung YH, Kim SS, Kim KY, Lee WB. The role of BF-7 on enhancement of memory and cognitive function. Kor J Anat 2004; 37(6):519-527.