7,8-Dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) is a potential nootropic that may improve overall brain health, mood, and cognitive function. It may also be of benefit for several neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders, as well as obesity and elevated blood pressure. Read on to discover more 7,8-DHF health benefits and what side effects to look out for.

What Is 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone?

7,8-Dihydroxyflavone (7,8-DHF) is a flavone found in plants. It was discovered while searching for molecules that imitate the function of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) [1, 2].

BDNF promotes the growth of neurons and synapses (synaptogenesis) and is very important for normal brain function. Lower amounts of BDNF are observed in diseases such as depression, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Schizophrenia [1, 3, 4].

Studies in animals show that 7,8-DHF can indeed help with brain repair, long-term memory, depression, and neurodegenerative diseases. However, studies in humans are still lacking [2].

How Does 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone Work?

7,8-DHF mimics the effects of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain by activating the tropomyosin-related kinase B (TrkB) receptors [5].

The therapeutic potential of BDNF is restricted due to its short half-life (less than 10 minutes) and its inability to cross the blood-brain barrier because of its large size. Unlike BDNF 7,8-DHF is able to penetrate the blood-brain barrier and enter the central nervous system (CNS) [1].

7,8-DHF also increases the production of Nrf2. Nrf2 increases antioxidants enzymes such as heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) and also enzymes that repair DNA (8-oxoguanine DNA glycosylase-1 – OGG1) [6, 7].

Health Benefits of 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone

1) May Improve Memory and Learning

7,8-DHF improved object recognition (a test used to determine learning and memory) in healthy rats when given immediately following and three hours after learning. It also improved memory in mice with dementia [8].

In rat models of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), 7,8-DHF prevented stress-related memory impairment [9, 10].

7,8-DHF also improved memory in aging rats [11, 12].

2) May Promote Brain Repair

7,8-DHF promoted the repair of damaged neurons [13].

It also increased the production of new neurons in the brains (hippocampus) of adult mice after brain injury and promoted neuron growth in aged mice [14, 15].

Similarly, 7,8-DHF, along with exercise, improved brain function in rats that experienced traumatic brain injury [16].

3) May Be Neuroprotective

7,8-DHF protected against stroke-related brain damage in mice. The beneficial effect was more pronounced in females [17, 18].

7,8-DHF also prevented neuronal damage in mice after traumatic brain injury [19].

4) Has Antioxidant Effects

7,8-DHF rescues cells from damage and death caused by oxidative stress [20].

Cells do not need to have the TrkB receptor to be protected [20].

In this case, 7,8-DHF:

  • Removes reactive oxygen species (ROS) [21].
  • Increases Nrf2. This increases the production of several antioxidant enzymes [6, 7, 22].
  • Increases glutathione (GSH), glutathione peroxidase (GPx), and superoxide dismutase (SOD) levels [17].

5) Has Anti-Inflammatory Effects

7,8-DHF decreases the release of inflammatory factors in brain cells by blocking NF-κB [23].

7,8-DHF also reduces the levels of inflammation-causing nitric oxide, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), TNF-alpha, and IL-6 in macrophages (white blood cells) [24].

6) May Be Beneficial in Neurodegenerative and Neurodevelopmental Diseases

Alzheimer’s Disease

In animal models for Alzheimer’s disease, 7,8-DHF [25, 26, 27, 8, 28]:

  • Reduced amyloid plaque formation
  • Reduced oxidative stress
  • Prevented loss of synapses
  • Prevented memory deficits and preserved cognitive function

However, another study found no benefits in treating mice with Alzheimer’s-like brain damage with 7,8-DHF [29].

Parkinson’s Disease

7,8-DHF improved motor function and prevents the loss of dopamine-related neurons in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease [30, 31, 32].

It also prevents the death of dopamine-sensitive neurons in monkey models of Parkinson’s disease [33].

Huntington’s Disease

7,8-DHF delayed the motor and cognitive impairment and prolonged survival in a mouse model of Huntington’s disease [34, 35].

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS)

7,8-DHF improved motor deficits and neuron survival in a mouse model of ALS [36].

Multiple Sclerosis

7,8-DHF reduced disease severity in a mouse model of multiple sclerosis [37].

Schizophrenia

7,8-DHF decreased cognitive deficits and improved learning and memory in rat models of schizophrenia[38].

Infections in pregnancy and subsequent abnormal brain development can increase the risk of schizophrenia in offspring. Early use of 7,8-DHF decreased behavioral abnormalities and psychosis in mice offspring at risk of developing a schizophrenia-like disorder [39, 40].

Down Syndrome

In a mouse model of down syndrome, early intervention with 7,8-DHF increased the production of new neurons (hippocampus) and improved learning and memory [41].

Fragile X Syndrome

Fragile X syndrome is a genetic condition. It causes a range of developmental problems including cognitive impairment and learning disabilities.

In a mouse model of fragile X syndrome, 7,8-DHF improved cognitive function and reduced spine abnormalities [42].

Rett Syndrome

Rett Syndrome is a non-inherited genetic brain disorder, mainly affecting girls. Symptoms include unusually slower growth, difficult coordination control, and language issues.

7,8-DHF improved symptoms in a mouse model of Rett syndrome [43].

7) May Treat Depression

7,8-DHF improved depression in mice that experienced social defeat [44].

It is also effective in reducing depressive behaviors in rodents experiencing chronic stress [45, 46].

8) May Treat Addiction

7,8-DHF decreased abnormalities in behavior and dopamine transport in mice on METH (methamphetamine) [47, 48].

7,8-DHF also reduced the rewarding effects of cocaine in mice [49].

9) May Combat Obesity

7,8-DHF reduces fat production and fat build up by increasing antioxidant enzymes and neutralizing reactive oxygen species (ROS) [50].

In mice on a high-fat diet, 7,8-DHF increased muscle AMPK levels, increased whole-body energy expenditure, reduced fat, and improved insulin sensitivity [51].

Obesity in pregnancy can negatively impact the child via the placenta. 7,8-DHF improved placental characteristics and may, therefore, help decrease the negative effects of obesity in pregnancy [52].

10) May Improve Blood Pressure

When injected into rats with elevated blood pressure, 7,8-DHF caused an acute blood pressure reduction. When administered orally, there was still a decrease, but it was less pronounced [53].

11) May Prevent Skin Cancer

7,8-DHF kills oral squamous cancer cells and skin cancer (melanoma) cells [54, 55].

12) May Prevent Skin Aging

7,8-DHF decreased inflammation, increased collagen production, and increased antioxidant enzyme levels in aged human skin cells [56].

Side Effects & Precautions

There is an apparent lack of human studies. Side effects are unknown. However, users report:

  • Overstimulation
  • Restlessness
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

Drug Interactions

Possible drug interactions of 7,8-Dihydroxyflavone are unknown.

Supplement Forms and Dosage

7,8-DHF can be purchased as capsules/pills, or powder.

The appropriate dosage is unknown, but the most common dosage is 10 – 30 mg per day.

User Reviews

7,8-DHF seems to have potent nootropic effects with few side effects.

Doses of 30 mg peak the mood and energy boosting effects, but people report the effects last only a couple of hours. Taking over 30 mg causes mild dizziness and slight irritability in some.

7,8-DHF decreased feelings of depression and anxiety while improving cognitive function, learning, and mood. However, these benefits diminished after 18 days of daily use.

Buy 7,8-DHF

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About the Author

Biljana Novkovic - PHD (ECOLOGICAL GENETICS) - Writer at Selfhacked

Dr. Biljana Novkovic, PhD

PhD (Ecological Genetics)

Biljana received her PhD from Hokkaido University.

Before joining SelfHacked, she was a research scientist with extensive field and laboratory experience. She spent 4 years reviewing the scientific literature on supplements, lab tests and other areas of health sciences. She is passionate about releasing the most accurate science & health information available on topics, and she's meticulous when writing and reviewing articles to make sure the science is sound. She believes that SelfHacked has the best science that is also layperson-friendly on the web.

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