Bacopa Leaf Powder
Other names: Bacopa Monnieri
Used for: Improved memory, attention, learning, mood; stress relief; fights anxiety and depression; treats Alzheimer’s, ADHD, and other cognitive disorders
Known side effects: frequent urination, increased sweating, fatigue
Dosing: 300 to 750 mg per day
Found in every continent, revealed to the world by the ancient texts of Ayurveda, Bacopa Monnieri is widely considered one of the most potent natural Nootropics currently available. The findings of scientific studies over the years, by degrees, started attracting nootropic users in the western hemisphere to this fantastic, natural brain supplement.
Some equate Brahmi to Piracetam – highly potent but free from the adverse reactions that are common to most synthetic Nootropics. In traditional medicine, Bacopa is used to boost cognition and treat several ailments, but some of the benefits are not backed by research. Most nootropic users take Bacopa to increase memory, alleviate stress and anxiety, and protect the brain from neurodegeneration.
There are some people for whom Brahmi is a magic nootropic, an herb that can cure any illness. But, the herbal extract has its limitations. Separating the wheat from the chaff, we have only listed functions and benefits of Bacopa Monnieri that are strongly backed by science and corroborated by the findings of scientific studies.
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How Does Bacopa Monnieri Work?
Bacopa Monnieri and Neurotransmitters: The brain chemicals or neurotransmitters rule the roost in the brain. They are responsible for numerous functions and are quintessential for normal functioning of all cognitive faculties.
Bacopa or Brahmi can influence many of the neurotransmitters and doing so its benefits capabilities such as memory, attention, learning, and mood.
Bacopa is widely known to improve memory, and scientists believe this is achieved by boosting the release of Tryptophan hydroxylase (an enzyme associated with the production of serotonin) and enhancing the expression of SERT (influencing the serotonergic system) (1).
In a study, the use of the herbal nootropic on rats improved the levels of serotonin and dopamine (2). The herb’s ability to boost dopamine levels is also believed to treat Parkinson’s disease (3).
Acetylcholine is undoubtedly the ‘queen of all neurotransmitters,’ and there can be no improvement in memory without increasing the levels of acetylcholine. Studies show that Brahmi boosts memory, fights Alzheimer’s, and treats other cognitive disorders by boosting acetylcholine levels and acting as acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (1) (4).
There isn’t much scientific evidence to show Bacopa increasing levels of glutamate, but according to a study, the administration of the nootropic to rats with schizophrenia showed an increase in VGLUT1 (the protein responsible for uploading the neurotransmitter glutamate) (5).
Brahmi Is an Adaptogen: The adaptogenic properties of this herbal extract helps in canceling the harmful effects (physical and psychological) of stress. Also, its anxiolytic effects help in reducing anxiety.
Bacopa has Antioxidant Properties: Antioxidants perform many useful functions in the body and are essential for overall good health and wellbeing. The antioxidant properties of Bacopa Monnieri reduce oxidative stress and stop arterial plaque formation in the blood vessels; thereby preventing stroke, cardiovascular diseases, and cognitive disorders.
According to a study, the bacosides in the nootropic increases antioxidants such as catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase in various areas of the brain (6).
Bacopa and Neuroinflammation: In a clinical trial, the use of Brahmi, for three months, has shown to ease the neural inflammation (7). The problem of neuroinflammation and its symptoms are often associated with old age.
Brahmi and Cerebral Blood Flow: In animal studies, Bacopa has shown to improve blood circulation in the brain (8). It’s also believed to increase the utilization of nitric oxide and regulate blood pressure in the body.
The Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri to Alleviate Stress
The fact that meditation and Yoga have spread so far and wide, and rapidly too, validates a point that stress has become a real problem in today’s world. Nearly 90 percent of all people who visit a primary care provider complain of stress (9). Even worse, if not nipped in the bud, stress can develop into chronic stress and affect body and mind, and can also become life-threatening.
The land of Yoga offers a better solution to stress in the form of Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri). Bacopa extract is one of the best known natural treatments for stress. It’s an adaptogen, and regular use of this nootropic equips the body to handle stress and prevent the development of severe symptoms such as anxiety, panic attacks, IBS, etc.
According to a study by Central Drug Research in India, the use of Bacopa extract shielded the animal subjects from the dangers of acute stress and chronic stress. It reduced the instances of symptoms such as adrenal activity and stomach ulcer in animals (10).
Brahmi Improves Memory
In Australia, the researchers tested the memory, visual information processing, and speed of processing of a group of volunteers. The volunteers were split into two groups with one receiving placebo and the other 300 mg of Brahmi extract every day.
Tests on the above-mentioned cognitive capabilities were conducted after the fifth and twelfth week of supplementation. The results showed that the Brahmi group performed much better on the two tests taken after supplementation. The researchers also saw improvement in faculties dependent on memory and learning (11).
Bacopa Extract to Fight Anxiety and Depression
Bacopa doesn’t stop with stress; it goes further and alleviates serious mood-related conditions such as anxiety and depression. This function of the natural nootropic has been studied and researched by many organizations.
The University of Michigan Health System has published a report that speaks about the anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects of Bacopa. They believe that the herbal extract influences GABA, Serotonin, and Acetylcholine – three important neurotransmitters – to fight against mood disorders (12).
Bacopa Monnieri to Treat Alzheimer’s and Other Cognitive Disorders
Several Universities, Organizations, and groups of scientists have been working for decades to explore and treat age-related cognitive disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. Scientists have been working on natural and synthetic drugs to protect the brain, delay the onset of brain degeneration, and reverse the symptoms of these disorders.
The Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation is quite upbeat about the use of Bacopa Monnieri. They believe this herbal nootropic could effectively prevent dementia and help the elderly avoid severe symptoms that affect their daily life (13).
As part of traditional medicine, we can date back the use of Bacopa Monnieri to thousands of years. Scientists have been studying it for several decades; most of them using animal subjects. The results of these animal studies have led the scientists to believe that Brahmi can improve memory, reduce oxidative stress, and prevent brain degeneration (14) (15).
Bacopa to Reduce Symptoms of Schizophrenia
Doctors are also considering the use of Bacopa for treating Schizophrenia and its symptoms. Although not many human studies on this subject have been carried out so far, the findings from animal research show promise. The scientists involved in various animal studies share the opinion that Brahmi could be useful in preventing cognitive decline, which is one of the severe symptoms of schizophrenia (16) (17).
Brahmi to Treat ADHD
Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by symptoms such as impulsiveness, hyperactivity, and attention difficulty. It’s a chronic condition that typically begins in childhood. It’s believed that the active compounds in Brahmi – Bacosides – treat ADHD by facilitating signal transmission between brain cells.
Bacopa to treat ADHD shouldn’t come as a surprise because Brahmi’s properties are a perfect antidote for the cognitive disorder. The herbal nootropic alleviates impulsive and hyperactive tendencies and calms the mind. The natural nootropic removes stress and anxiety and helps the users gain control over thoughts, boost mental energy, enhance attention and memory.
In a clinical trial, the researchers randomly administered 50 mg of Brahmi, twice daily, to some of the children suffering from ADHD, for three months. The remaining participants of the study were given placebo tablets, twice daily, for the same period. Tests to measure the cognitive performance of the subjects were carried out a month after the daily dosage was discontinued.
The results showed that children who took the real nootropic – Brahmi – performed better in tests that measured memory, mental control, and learning (18).
Bacopa Extract to Regulate Blood Pressure
The nootropic’s role in regulating blood pressure isn’t talked about more often due to the lack of enough studies involving humans. But, many animal studies have explored this particular benefit of Bacopa. According to a report published in The Journal of Ethnopharmacology, the natural nootropic acts as a vasodilator to relax and widen the blood vessels, thereby increasing blood flow and regulating blood pressure. It also encourages the body to improve its utilization of nitric oxide (19).
Bacopa Monnieri to Minimize Chronic Pain
Living with chronic pain can be tough, and it’s only natural that the problem starts affecting us psychologically. A few years ago, a news report published in the Wall Street Journal stated that more than 75 percent of those suffering from chronic pain were also victims of the depression (20).
The use of Bacopa Monnieri to tackle stress, anxiety, and depression is quite well known; many scientific studies have established the fact. According to a paper published in Current Medicinal Chemistry, pain relief benefit of Bacopa extract is on par with morphine (21).
Bacopa Monnieri Dosage
The right dosage of Brahmi depends on the percentage of bacosides in the supplement. The recommended daily dosage is 300 mg if the supplement contains 55 percent of bacosides. Then again, if it has only 20 percent bacosides, then the ideal daily dosage increases to 750 mg. Divide the dosage into equal measures and take it 2-3 times a day, if you plan to high-dose Brahmi.
Ayurvedic texts recommend taking Bacopa Monnieri with ghee. The fat-soluble herbal nootropic can be taken with coconut oil, olive oil, or any healthy fat source. Consuming the supplement with fat helps the absorption and transportation of bacosides into the brain.
The Possible Side Effects of Bacopa Leaf Powder
Healthy individuals can use Bacopa without fear of any side effects. Although the risk of any adverse reaction is minimal, the common side effects that users might experience include frequent urination, excessive sweating, indigestion, nausea, and fatigue.
Those who are taking alcohol, sedatives, calcium channel blockers, thyroid medication, and anti-depressants are advised not to use Bacopa because of drug interaction.
The body of research currently available suggests Bacopa extract is an excellent neuroprotectant, anxiolytic, antioxidant, and cognitive enhancer. Brahmi is a natural nootropic, so the herb extract is safe, non-toxic, and well tolerated. Brahmi’s anxiolytic benefits can be felt within days of its use, but for improvement in memory, use the supplement for at least 8 to 12 weeks.
- “Bacopa Monniera Leaf Extract up-Regulates Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH2) and Serotonin Transporter (SERT) Expression: Implications in Memory Formation.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129470.
- “Effect of Bacopa Monniera on Stress Induced Changes in Plasma Corticosterone and Brain Monoamines in Rats.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17321089.
- “Anti-Parkinsonian Effects of Bacopa Monnieri: Insights from Transgenic and Pharmacological Caenorhabditis Elegans Models of Parkinson’s Disease.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21925152.
- “A Comparative Study in Rodents of Standardized Extracts of Bacopa Monniera and Ginkgo Biloba: Anticholinesterase and Cognitive Enhancing Activities.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12213536.
- “Cognitive Enhancement Effects of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) on Novel Object Recognition and VGLUT1 Density in the Prefrontal Cortex, Striatum, and Hippocampus of Sub-Chronic Phencyclidine Rat Model of Schizophrenia.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23745319.
- “Antioxidant Activity of Bacopa Monniera in Rat Frontal Cortex, Striatum and Hippocampus.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10815010.
- “Amelioration of Age Associated Neuroinflammation on Long Term Bacosides Treatment.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22198697.
- “Bacopa Monnieri Increases Cerebral Blood Flow in Rat Independent of Blood Pressure.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22447676.
- “Life Event, Stress and Illness.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3341916/.
- “Adaptogenic Effect of Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi).” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12957224.
- “The Chronic Effects of an Extract of Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi) on Cognitive Function in Healthy Human Subjects.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11498727?dopt=Abstract.
- “Bacopa.” Michigan Medicine, uofmhealth.org/health-library/hn-4019005#hn-4019005-how-it-works.
- “BACOPA MONNIERI.” Cognitive Vitality, alzdiscovery.org/cognitive-vitality/ratings/bacopa-monnieri.
- “Cognitive Enhancement and Neuroprotective Effects of Bacopa Monnieri in Alzheimer’s Disease Model.” Semantic Scholar, semanticscholar.org/paper/Cognitive-enhancement-and-neuroprotective-effects-Uabundit-Wattanathorn/6900f226a44070f341f9ca03164c8ea1847cffe9.
- “Neuroprotective Mechanisms of Ayurvedic Antidementia Botanical Bacopa Monniera.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17604373.
- “Neuroprotective and Cognitive Enhancement Effects of Bacopa Monnieri on Novel Object Recognition in Schizophrenic Rat Model.” ScienceDirect, sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S092493381275455X.
- “Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) Enhanced Cognitive Function and Prevented Cognitive Impairment by Increasing VGLUT2 Immunodensity in Prefrontal Cortex of Sub-Chronic Phencyclidine Rat Model of Schizophrenia.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26387382.
- “Randomized Controlled Trial of Standardized Bacopa Monniera Extract in Age-Associated Memory Impairment.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2915594/.
- “Bacopa Monnieri and Its Constituents Is Hypotensive in Anaesthetized Rats and Vasodilator in Various Artery Types.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21762768.
- “Why Women Are Living in the Discomfort Zone.” The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com/articles/escape-from-the-chronic-pain-trap-1391220523?tesla=y.
- “Preclinical Profile of Bacopasides from Bacopa Monnieri (BM) as an Emerging Class of Therapeutics for Management of Chronic Pains.” NCBI, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23210787.
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