Bacopa Monnieri: Memory Enhancer | Creativity Booster | Neural Tonic
What is Bacopa Monnieri?
Bacopa Monnieri is an herbal supplement made from the water hyssop plant, native to India and Pakistan.
In the Ayurvedic health system in this part of the world, Bacopa monnieri is known as the “herb of grace,” and is part of a larger class of herbs called Brahmi, named after the Indian god of creation, Brahma. In Ayurveda, Bacopa — as well as other Brahmi herbs — are taken for memory, mental performance, spiritual awareness and creativity. It is increasingly studied in the modern era for its potential to optimize brain health and function in many different ways.
- Direct and secondary antioxidant; it not only delivers brain-protective antioxidant activity, but appears to boost other antioxidants, such as Superoxide Disumustase (SOD), all of which fight age-related memory loss and cognitive decline.
- Neurotransmitter Enhancer; it may encourage the release of acetylcholine, a brain chemical associated with memory and mental clarity
- Anti-Stress Agent; it has been found to influence a brain cell-protective protein cluster called Hsp70 that is released in response to various stressors1
What is Bacopa good for?
Bacopa is widely studied for memory, with benefits shown in clinical studies. Anecdotal evidence, historical references and testimonials suggest it may assist with creativity, which is one of its ancient uses in India’s Ayurvedic system. Because it helps the brain in many ways, Bacopa is sometimes taken for Alzheimer’s (AD) and anxiety — and while suggestive research exists, these uses are not yet backed by significant clinical research.
Free radical damage is believed to accelerate aging of the brain. Antioxidants may neutralize these free radicals and prevent them from damaging brain cells. Bacopa is a brain antioxidant that also boosts complementary antioxidants Superoxide dismustase (SOD), glutathione, GPx and many more. With this multi brain antioxidant-boosting activity, Bacopa is associated with brain cell protection and fighting certain risk factors for Alzheimer’s, dementia and cognitive decline.
Bacopa for creativity is a harder benefit to pinpoint. In Ayurveda, it is considered a Brahmi herb, named after Brahma, the Hindu god of creation. Though its popularity as a creativity tonic has endured from ancient times until today, creativity cannot be measured in a lab — and therefore no clinical studies exist. Regardless, its creativity-boosting reputation may be supported by anecdotal evidence from its widespread use.
The “Herb of Grace” is sometimes associated with Alzheimer’s, but clinical evidence is in early stages. Regardless, some positive research has suggested the herb’s bacoside compounds appear to reduce protein clusters associated brain plaque and AD onset.
It has also been found to enhance brain cell neurotransmitters and promote cell energy; these bioactivities may combine to help with memory, learning, mental clarity and other aspects of cognitive function.
Bacopa benefits may be magnified by its ability to boost cerebral circulation, which helps with delivery of its bacosides along with other neuronutrients from additional brain supplements. Bacopa has even been compared in some research to what may be the most famous brain circulation-booster: Ginkgo biloba.
In one animal study, ginkgo biloba and bacopa monnieri faced off — with researchers ultimately finding ginko boosted bloodflow to the brain by 29%, compared to bacopa monnieri’s 24%. This led researchers to conclude: “Increased cerebral blood flow with B. monnieri may account for its reported procognitive effect, and its further exploration as an alternative nootropic drug is worthwhile.”2
Bacopa Monnieri appears to be a versatile brain supplement. Early animal evidence shows it protects and energizes brain cells, enhances neurotransmitters, reduces brain plaques, boosts cerebral bloodflow and more.
The Chinese club moss derivative also has been shown in some in vivo research to exhibit brain cell-protective activities in cases of injury. This benefit appears to be age-independent, helping both young and old, and may work in concert with its neurotransmitter-supportive properties to both protect and preserve sharp cognitive function.
- Did you know? Ancient text reveals that Bacopa has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine to help with nerves since the 500s A.D. Ayurveda classified the herb as medhya rasayana — a mind enhancer that sharpens and energizes cognitive performance.
Bacopa Research: Short-Term Memory Booster
One well-designed study on bacopa for memory and anxiety included 76 participants aged 40-65 years were tested on various memory functions and levels of anxiety. Those in the B. Monnieri group received Bacopa 300 mg up to 400 mg, depending on bodyweight. Participants were tested across various cognitive function parameters prior to the trial, three months into the trial and six weeks after it concluded. At study’s end:
- Researchers reported Bacopa to be most effective for short-term memory, commenting: “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.”
Bacopa’s standout performance as a short-term memory booster in this study may help with common cognitive complaints such as forgetting a name soon after meeting someone, losing keys that were recently set down somewhere, or general day-to-day brain fog that makes short term processing feel sluggish.
Bacopa Monnieri & Opioid Receptors
Bacopa Supplements Use
Bacopa monnieri supplements are typically derived from the leaves of the water hyssop plant. Bacopa monniera supplements are commonly sold as capsules and tablets, and sometimes offered in liquid or powder form. Supplements may combine bacopa monniera with other cognitive-enhancing ingredients, such as gotu kola or gingko biloba.
Before adding bacopa monnieri to your nutritional wellness regimen, be sure to talk to your health care provider. Bacopa 500 mg is a popular dosage for therapeutic benefits, but dosage varies and there is no standard serving size.
Bacopa Side Effects
Bacopa monnieri side effects are rare. Possible adverse results of high dosage could be stomach discomfort, nausea, dry mouth and low energy. Pregnant and breastfeeding women are advised to avoid bacopa monniera supplements.