Bacopa Herb


Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), is a perennial herb that has been recently reclassified into the Plantaginaceae family from the Scrophulariaceae or Figwort family. Bacopa is a small, creeping succulent and water loving herb, which grows in ponds, tidal lands, and wetlands in tropical and semitropical areas. The flowers have 5 petals, are white or whitish-blue, and grow on short pedicels at the axils of the leaves The whole plant can be dried and used medicinally, or the aerial parts can be eaten fresh. Native to India & Sri Lanka, but now naturalized in the southern coasts of the U.S, & Australia, its growth habits can be a challenge for finding pure sources. Given its ability to thrive and absorb the moisture of its environment, Bacopa is notorious for also absorbing the pollutants of its environment, such as pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals.
Bacopa shares the common name Brahmi with another herb significant in Ayurvedic medicine, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica). The term ‘brahmi’ originates from the Hindu god Brahma, which refers to the feminine aspect of Brahman. Brahman is the divine ‘essence of source from which all created things emanate, or with which they are identified and to which they return at the time of dissolution’ . Brahman is also referred to as the ‘cosmic consciousness’ , leading Bacopa to be associated with knowledge, learning, memory, and concentration*. Energetically, Bacopa is a cooling bitter that is thought to pacify all doshas (vata, pitta, & kapha), or constitutions in the Ayurvedic tradition. Some use Bacopa to increase concentration and devotion to support a spiritual practice, and it is believed that ancient scholars utilized Bacopa as a nootropic to memorize extensive hymns and scriptures.

What is Bacopa Used for?

Traditionally, Bacopa was utilized in various conditions afflicting the mind and nervous system. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa is a rasayana, or a rejuvenative tonic, which promotes the revitalization of the body and tissues. It was used tonically to promote intellect and longevity*. Modern research on Bacopa shows that Bacopa monnieri extracts are able to improve various cognitive functions in healthy college students. Other studies suggest that Bacopa monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting newly acquired information in healthy adults, and may improve cognitive processes in healthy humans*. As more and more people turn to herbal medicine, Bacopa monnieri is experiencing increasing popularity as a nootropic aid. Study participants noted a sense of calm and wellbeing from Bacopa with short term use, however, studies showed that beneficial cognitive effects of Bacopa are typically seen after 6-12 weeks, with better results seen with long term use*.

Bacopa, also known as brahmi, is a plant that has been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda). Be careful not to confuse brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with gotu kola and other natural medicines that are also sometimes called brahmi.

Bacopa is commonly used for Alzheimer’s disease, improving memory, anxiety, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) among many other uses. But there is limited scientific research to support these uses.

This review synthesizes behavioral research with neuromolecular mechanisms putatively involved with the low-toxicity cognitive enhancing action of Bacopa monnieri (BM), a medicinal Ayurvedic herb. BM is traditionally used for various ailments, but is best known as a neural tonic and memory enhancer. Numerous animal and in vitro studies have been conducted, with many evidencing potential medicinal properties. Several randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have substantiated BM’s nootropic utility in humans. There is also evidence for potential attenuation of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and epilepsy. Current evidence suggests BM acts via the following mechanisms—anti-oxidant neuroprotection (via redox and enzyme induction), acetylcholinesterase inhibition and/or choline acetyltransferase activation, β-amyloid reduction, increased cerebral blood flow, and neurotransmitter modulation (acetylcholine [ACh], 5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT], dopamine [DA]). BM appears to exhibit low toxicity in model organisms and humans; however, long-term studies of toxicity in humans have yet to be conducted. This review will integrate molecular neuroscience with behavioral research

7 Emerging Benefits of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi)

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Bacopa monnieri, also called brahmi, water hyssop, thyme-leaved gratiola, and herb of grace, is a staple plant in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

It grows in wet, tropical environments, and its ability to thrive underwater makes it popular for aquarium use (1Trusted Source).

Bacopa monnieri has been used by Ayurvedic medical practitioners for centuries for a variety of purposes, including improving memory, reducing anxiety, and treating epilepsy (2Trusted Source).

In fact, research shows that it may boost brain function and alleviate anxiety and stress, among other benefits.

A class of powerful compounds called bacosides in Bacopa monnieri is believed to be responsible for these benefits.

1. Contains powerful antioxidants

Antioxidants are substances that help protect against cell damage caused by potentially harmful molecules called free radicals.

Research suggests that damage caused by free radicals is linked to many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers (3Trusted Source).

Bacopa monnieri contains powerful compounds that may have antioxidant effects (4).

For example, bacosides, the main active compounds in Bacopa monnieri, have been shown to neutralize free radicals and prevent fat molecules from reacting with free radicals (5Trusted Source).

When fat molecules react with free radicals, they undergo a process called lipid per-oxidation. Lipid per oxidation is linked to several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders (6Trusted Source, 7Trusted Source).

Bacopa monnieri may help prevent damage caused by this process.

For example, a study showed that treating rats with dementia with Bacopa monnieri reduced free radical damage and reversed signs of memory impairment (8Trusted Source).

2. May reduce inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response to help heal and fight disease.

However, chronic, low-level inflammation has been linked to many chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, and heart and kidney disease (9Trusted Source).

In test-tube studies, Bacopa monnieri appeared to suppress the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that stimulate an inflammatory immune response (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source).

Also, in test-tube and animal studies, it inhibited enzymes, such as encyclopedias, caspases, and lipoxygenases — all of which play key roles in inflammation and pain (10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source, 12Trusted Source).

What’s more, in animal studies, Bacopa monnieri had anti-inflammatory effects comparable to those of diclofenac and indomethacin — two non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs commonly used to treat inflammation (12Trusted Source, 13Trusted Source).

Nevertheless, more research is needed to determine whether Bacopa monnieri reduces inflammation in humans.

3. May boost brain function

Research suggests that Bacopa monnieri may help enhance brain function.

For example, one study in mice showed that supplementing with Bacopa monnieri improved their spatial learning and ability to retain information (14Trusted Source).

The same study also found that it increased dendritic length and branching. Dendrites are parts of nerve cells in the brain that are closely linked to learning and memory (14Trusted Source).

Additionally, a 12-week study in 46 healthy adults observed that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily significantly improved the speed of processing visual information, learning rate, and memory, compared with the placebo treatment (15Trusted Source).

Another 12-week study in 60 older adults found that taking either 300 mg or 600 mg of Bacopa monnieri extract daily improved memory, attention, and the ability to process information, compared with the placebo treatment (16Trusted Source).

4. May help reduce ADHD symptoms

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness (17Trusted Source).

Interestingly, research has shown that Bacopa monnieri may help reduce ADHD symptoms.

One study in 31 children aged 6–12 years found that taking 225 mg of Bacopa monnieri extract daily for 6 months significantly reduced ADHD symptoms, such as restlessness, poor self-control, inattention, and impulsivity in 85% of the children (18Trusted Source).

Another study in 120 children with ADHD observed that taking an herbal blend that contained 125 mg of Bacopa monnieri improved attention, cognition, and impulse control, compared with the placebo group (19Trusted Source).

Although these findings are promising, more large-scale studies examining the effects of Bacopa monnieri on ADHD are needed before it can be recommended as a treatment.

5. May prevent anxiety and stress

Bacopa monnieri may help prevent anxiety and stress. It’s considered an adaptogenic herb, meaning that it increases your body’s resistance to stress (20Trusted Source).

Research suggests that Bacopa monnieri helps reduce stress and anxiety by elevating your mood and reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone that is closely linked to stress levels (21Trusted Source).

One rodent study showed that Bacopa monnieri had anti-anxiety effects comparable to those of lorazepam (benzodiazepine), a prescription medication used to treat anxiety (22Trusted Source).

However, human studies on Bacopa monnieri and anxiety show mixed results.

For example, two 12-week human studies found that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily significantly reduced anxiety and depression scores in adults, compared with the placebo treatment (1Trusted Source, 15Trusted Source).

Yet, another human study found that treatment with Bacopa monnieri had no effect on anxiety (23Trusted Source).

More large-scale human studies are needed to confirm its effects on stress and anxiety.

6. May help lower blood pressure levels

High blood pressure is a serious health concern, as it places strain on your heart and blood vessels. This can weaken your heart and increase your risk of heart disease (24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source).

Research suggests that Bacopa monnieri may help keep blood pressure within a healthy range.

In one animal study, Bacopa monnieri reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. It did this by releasing nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow and lower blood pressure (26Trusted Source, 27Trusted Source).

Another study showed that Bacopa monnieri significantly lowered blood pressure levels in rats that had elevated levels, but it had no effect in rats that had normal blood pressure levels (28).

However, one 12-week study in 54 healthy older adults found that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily had no effect on blood pressure levels (1Trusted Source).

Based on current findings, Bacopa monnieri may lower blood pressure in animals with high blood pressure levels. Nevertheless, more human research is required to confirm these effects.

7. May have anticancer properties

Test-tube and animal studies have found that Bacopa monnieri may have anticancer properties.

Bacosides, the active class of compounds in Bacopa monnieri, have been shown to kill aggressive brain tumor cells and inhibit the growth of breast and colon cancer cells in test-tube studies (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source, 31Trusted Source).

Additionally, Bacopa monnieri induced skin and breast cancer cell death in animal and test-tube studies (32Trusted Source, 33Trusted Source).

Research suggests that the high levels of antioxidants and compounds like bacosides in Bacopa monnieri may be responsible for its cancer-fighting properties ).

Keep in mind that these results are from test-tube and animal studies. Until there are more human studies on Bacopa monnieri and cancer, it cannot be recommended as a treatment.

The Health Benefits of Bacopa

Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) is an herb long used in Ayurveda—the traditional medicine of India. Bacopa is widely promoted as a treatment for memory disorders, anxiety, and thyroid health. However, not all of these benefits are supported by scientific evidence. Bacopa is also referred to as andri, Bacopa monnieri, herb of grace, herpestis herb, Herpestis monniera, Indian pennywort, and water hyssop.

If you’re considering trying bacopa, make sure to consult your primary care provider first to weigh the pros and cons and discuss whether it’s appropriate for you.

It should not be confused with gotu hola, an herb that also goes by one of bacopa’s other names—brahmi.

Health Benefits

Preliminary evidence suggests that bacopa may have antioxidant properties. The herb contains saponin compounds such as bacosides and bacopasides, which may enhance the communication of brain chemicals involved in cognition, learning, and memory, and inhibit inflammation in the brain.

However, to date, few studies have tested the health effects of bacopa. The research that has been done has focused on the treatment and/or prevention of several health problems.

Memory and Brain Function

Several studies indicate that bacopa may help preserve memory and enhance cognitive function. In a report published in the Journal of Ethnophamacology in 2014, researchers analyzed nine previously published studies assessing the effect of bacopa on cognitive function. In their conclusion, researchers stated that bacopa has the potential to improve cognition, but that large, well-designed trials comparing the supplement to medication are needed.

An earlier report also reviewed previously published studies on bacopa for cognitive performance and found some evidence suggesting that the herb extract may improve memory during free-recall tests.

In a 2016 study of 60 college students, researchers found that six weeks of twice-daily treatment with bacopa (at a dose of 300 mg per day) led to improvements in tests relating to cognitive function.


Studies suggest that bacopa may help alter the activity of certain enzymes involved in the stress response, suggesting that bacopa could allow the brain to be prepared to cope under stress.

One small study, published in Phytotherapy Research in 2014, assessed the effects of a bacopa extract in healthy participants engaging in multiple tasks. Researchers found positive cognitive effects, some positive mood effects, and a reduction in cortisol levels in those taking bacopa.

Selection, Preparation, & Storage

Bacopa is available in capsule or tablet form. You can find bacopa in your local vitamin store or online.

Currently, there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for the supplement. Doses typically depend on several factors including your current health status, age, and gender.

Always consult your healthcare provider to determine if bacopa is safe for you and to find out what dose may be appropriate.

A study is reported on the effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) on human memory. Seventy-six adults aged between 40 and 65 years took part in a double-blind randomized, placebo control study in which various memory functions were tested and levels of anxiety measured. There were three testing sessions: one prior to the trial, one after three months on the trial, and one six weeks after the completion of the trial. The results show a significant effect of the Brahmi on a test for the retention of new information. Follow-up tests showed that the rate of learning was unaffected, suggesting that Brahmi decreases the rate of forgetting of newly acquired information. Tasks assessing attention, verbal and visual short-term memory and the retrieval of pre-experimental knowledge were unaffected. Questionnaire measures of everyday memory function and anxiety levels were also unaffected.

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