Bacopa Monnieri Brain Boosting Herbal Supplement

Updated: Jun 12

Bocopa Monnieri Memory Enhancement Supplement

Bacopa Monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb that relaxes and mentally-stimulates you all at once. It’s commonly known for its mood-enhancing and anti-inflammatory benefits, but this is just scratching the surface of its medicinal potential. Read on to discover the amazing benefits of bacopa, along with the possible side effects.

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

Bacopa Monnieri is an herb native to the wetlands of southern India and Australia, often growing as a weed in rice fields. The entire plant is used medicinally in the Indian traditional medicine system of Ayurveda.

Use in Ayurveda

In India, bacopa is locally known as Brahmi after “Brahma,” the mythical creator of the Hindu pantheon. Ayurvedic practitioners classify it as a Medhya Rasayana–an herb taken to sharpen the intellect and improve mental deficits. In other words, bacopa is probably one of the oldest-known nootropics in the world.

Allegedly, ancient Vedic scholars used Bacopa Monnieri to better memorize lengthy sacred hymns and scriptures. They often combined it with other intellect-sharpening herbs like Gotu Kola. Preparations with bacopa are also commonly prescribed for cognitive dysfunction in Ayurveda.

Ayurveda doesn’t separate herbs that enhance cognition in healthy people from those that lessen existing cognitive problems. That’s why bacopa is equally popular among young professionals and students as it is among older people.

Modern Potential

I think bacopa’s true power lies in offsetting cognitive decline with aging. We’re on a quest to increase lifespan, but we should really be seeking to increase Health Span–life lived in good health. To achieve this, we should maintain mental sharpness, brain health, and work capacity into old age.

Just in the US, over 3.4 million people suffer from dementia and most of them are over 65 years of age. Many more cases of subtle (sub-clinical) cognitive dysfunction go undiagnosed, as is the case with brain fog. Bacopa is a revitalizing, relaxing, and mentally-stimulating herb – one I believe can support our health span extension quest.

Several recent studies have looked into Bacopa’s therapeutic potential. The herb contains a mix of synergistic compounds that protect the brain, scavenge free radicals, and increase acetylcholine–the most important neurotransmitter for memory and learning. And unlike synthetic smart drugs, bacopa causes minimal side effects.

Active Components

Bacopa Monnieri contains a mixture of active compounds. Some are unique to it, like Brahmine, the first alkaloid isolated from the herb. It also contains apigenin, a relaxing alkaloid found in many plants such as chamomile.

However, its most important active compounds are its bacosides, so-called steroidal saponins. These plant compounds are responsible for improving learning and memory. Over 12 unique bacosides have been discovered in bacopa so far.

Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa increases levels of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which enhances cognition and intellectual capacities. Your body uses acetylcholine for cholinergic activity, which counteracts the fight-or-flight response. It gets your body into a state of “resting and digesting.” Rest also enables a higher state of consciousness: selective attention, perception, and memory.

Specifically, Bacopa has dual boosting action: it inhibits acetylcholinesterase–the enzyme that breaks acetylcholine down, and it activates choline acetyltransferase–the enzyme that produces acetylcholine.

Bacopa can also increase serotonin and GABA in the hippocampus. Serotonin improves mood, GABA increases feelings of calmness, and the hippocampus is the brain’s hub for memory and emotions.

One group of scientists discovered that bacopa can help neurons branch out. It increases dendritic branching – dendrites being the parts of neurons that send out information by connecting with other neurons. Better-branched neurons enhance learning and memory.

Additionally, bacosides in the plant are anti-inflammatory. They reduce inflammatory cytokines and iNOS production in the brain, according to studies in rats.

Bacopa also activates anti-cancer pathways; it activates protein phosphatase 2A, activating caspase-3 and decreasing Bcl-2 gene production

1) Increases Antioxidant Defence

Bacopa Monnieri boosts key antioxidant enzymes: superoxide dismutase, catalase, and glutathione. This way, it counters oxidative stress, which is especially important for brain health.

Being the most metabolically active organ, the brain needs to regularly deal with oxidative stress. Plus, it carefully filters the compounds it lets in via the blood-brain barrier. If its internal antioxidant defences fall, damage is likely. Based on rat studies, bacopa’s active compounds can easily cross into the brain and offer protection [8].

In rodent studies, bacopa increased natural defences against reactive oxygen species and protected against aluminium-related brain damage [8, 9].

Bacopa can bind toxins like heavy metals. And in human cells, it protected against DNA damage from hydrogen peroxide.

Importantly, it prevents free radicals from destroying lipids in the brain. The brain is rich lipids, which make it functional and well-connected. Since these lipids are sensitive to damage, bacopa’s action goes a long way to protect the brain’s crucial components [10].

Bacopa is a potent antioxidant and has a protective effect on cells. It scavenges free radicals and prevents DNA damage.

2) May Increase Longevity

Antioxidant defences usually drop with aging, while oxidative stress increases. In mice, Bacopa prevents the formation of malondialdehyde and lipofuscin, which are key indicators of aging. It also restores antioxidant balance in aged mice.

What’s more, bacopa increased the lifespan of C. elegans, a worm species famous for its use in longevity studies. In C.elegans worms under stress, Bacopa enhances stress tolerance, turns on stress-fighting genes (specific heat shock proteins like hsp-16.2), and scavenges free radicals. With more research, Bacopa may turn out to be a great longevity herb for people under high stress.

3) Reduces Inflammation

Bacopa reduces inflammation throughout the body. In rats, it lowered age-related chronic brain inflammation. It may also reduce chronic whole-body and brain inflammation driven by an overactive immune system, according to a cell study.

In a cell-based study, alcoholic extracts of bacopa blocked proteins that contribute to arthritis. Its effect was almost as strong as that of diclofenac (Voltaren), a widely used anti-inflammatory drug.

In both blood cells and animals, Bacopa’s betulinic acid reduced the production of interleukin-6 (IL-6), an inflammatory cytokine.

Cell studies revealed that Bacopa inhibits the main inflammatory messengers (including cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), 5-lipoxygenase (5-LOX) and tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α).

4) Combats Stress & Depression

Bacopa Monnieri reduces stress and depression in humans. It also lowers the stress hormone cortisol.

In a rat study, Bacopa reduced memory loss caused by both acute and chronic stress. It also prevented symptoms of anxiety and depression in mice.

Stress produces changes in blood and brain chemistry: in the blood, cortisol levels rise; in the brain, noradrenaline levels rise, and serotonin and dopamine levels fall. In one rat study, bacopa normalized all these changes.

Bacopa can reduce stress and depression by normalizing neurotransmitter levels and preventing oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain.

5) Enhances Cognitive Function & Memory

Bacopa enhances cognitive function, attention, and reaction time, according to a review of 9 studies and over 500 people.

Additionally, Bacopa improves language skills and symptoms of hyperactivity and attention-deficit in children and adolescents, according to another review.

Bacopa improved cognitive function and lessened anxiety and depression in 54 people over 65 years of age. In another trial of 98 people over 55 years of age, 300 mg/d of Bacopa extract enhanced learning and memory.

The same is true for middle-aged people. Bacopa improved memory in a trial of 76 people aged 40 to 65 years. After supplementing, the participants were significantly better at remembering new information.

Bacopa leaf extracts significantly enhanced learning and memory in rats. It also maintained good memory in mice given drugs that trigger brain damage and amnesia. One of the tested drugs it protected against was diazepam (Valium), and anti-anxiety medication known for producing brain fog-like side effects in the long run.

One mouse study suggested Bacopa sharpens memory by activating the GABA pathway – aside from its main acetylcholine-boosting action.

Bacopa enhances cognitive function, attention, learning, and memory–especially in middle-aged or elderly people.

6) May Improve Cognition in Schizophrenia

People with schizophrenia often experience cognitive problems, and conventional drugs can do little to treat them. Some antipsychotics even worsen cognitive issues. Interestingly, Bacopa reduced cognitive impairment in a rat model of schizophrenia by increasing the function of glutamate. It might be a good option with more clinical research.

7) Protects the Brain

In rats, Bacopa increased blood flow and reduced inflammation in the brain. It also stimulated the growth of neurons and reduced oxidative damage from aluminium and mercury. Since it improves brain health, Bacopa may also protect against Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

8) May Protect Against Alzheimer’s Disease

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease involving excessive deposits of beta-amyloid proteins in the brain, leading to cell death and memory loss. In rodents, Bacopa reduced beta-amyloid deposits in the brain and improved cognitive function.

Furthermore, Bacopa reduced oxidative stress and cell death due to beta-amyloid deposits in cell studies.

9) May Protect Against Parkinson’s Disease

In worms, bacopa prevented the loss of dopamine neurons that is typically seen in Parkinson’s disease.

Oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunction are strongly linked to Parkinson’s. Environmental factors such as herbicides and other neurotoxic agents may be involved in the development of the disease. In one cell study, Bacopa reduced mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress caused by herbicides.

10) Reduces Symptoms of ADHD