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Hops for your head

New research into xantholhumol, a flavonoid found in hops, shows promise for cognitive health applications.

Tastes great. Less filling. Helps you remember what you did last night?

Well, maybe if you drink 528 gallons a day. And are a young mouse.

A compound found in hops may aid cognitive function—at least in young rodents. New research from Oregon State University suggests that high levels of the flavonoid xanthohumol boosts the brain power of young mice. The discovery is a step toward understanding and one day eliminating memory loss that comes with aging in other mammals, like us, according to a university release.

The new research studied use of xanthohumol in high dosages, far beyond what could be obtained just by diet. "A human would have to drink 2,000 liters of beer a day to reach the xanthohumol levels we used in this research," the study’s corresponding author, professor at OSU Department of Biomedical Sciences and principal investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute, Kathy Magnusson, said in the release.

Researchers found that the xanthohumol appeared to enhance young mice’s ability to adapt to changes in the environment. They tested this cognitive flexibility with a special type of maze.

Unfortunately, the flavonoid did not have the same effect on older mice.

"This flavonoid and others may have a function in the optimal ability to form memories," Magnusson said. "Part of what this study seems to be suggesting is that it's important to begin early in life to gain the full benefits of healthy nutrition."

The research was published in Behavioral Brain Research and noted on

Other recent research suggests that the key to freshening our brains may lie in mint—and could make one for a company.

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