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Bacopa Monnieri

Sunday, March 28, 2021 • 5 minute read

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

Bacopa, also commonly called Brahmi, is a well-known herb in India. It is frequently used in Ayurvedic herbal preparations. The name "Brahmi" is derived from Brahma, the god of creation in Hinduism.

It grows in wet, tropical environments, and its ability to thrive underwater makes it popular for aquarium usage. In addition to its medical uses, bacopa has a place in religious and social practices in India.

What are the benefits?

Studies have linked Bacopa use as beneficial in treating Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, insomnia, cognitive function, memory, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergies, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [1] .

Bacopa has also been used orally for low back pain, hoarseness, mental illness, epilepsy, rheumatoid arthritis, sexual dysfunction, and as a general "nerve tonic" or "adaptogen" for fighting stress, as a "cardiotonic", and as a diuretic.[2]

How does Bacopa work

The medicinal properties found in bacopa supplements are derived from its leaves and roots. Bacopa has been observed to cause lower intracellular levels of free radicals, which protects against cell death. Evidence from laboratory studies show that bacopa extract may protect neuronal cells and connective tissue cells from oxidative damage [3].

Studies have also suggested that Bacopa Monnieri Increases cerebral blood flow and regulates neurotransmitters which explain its use in improving memory retention and working against Alzheimer’s disease as a neuroprotective nootropic [4].

Research also seems to support Bacopa’s use as an adaptogen, with its reduction in stress and anxiety due to its effect on reducing cortisol level, a hormone that is closely linked to stress levels [5].

How do you take Bacopa as a supplement?

Bacopa Monnieri supplements can be found in several forms, including as capsules and powders.

Typical dosages within research studies suggest 400 to 450 mg per day, however, dosage recommendations can vary widely depending on the product you purchase. If you have questions regarding dosage, make sure you double-check with the supplier and a health expert before consuming.

Traditionally, the powdered form can be added to hot water to make a soothing tea or mixed with ghee (a form of clarified butter popular in India). Although Bacopa Monnieri is considered safe for most people, speak with your healthcare provider before taking it to ensure your safety and proper usage.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects of Bacopa Monnieri are generally rare and mild to moderate. Common side effects can include increased bowel movements, stomach cramps, nausea, dry mouth, and fatigue.

Bacopa Monnieri is not recommended for pregnant women, as no studies have assessed the safety of its use during pregnancy. Finally, it may interact with certain medications including amitriptyline, a pain relief medicine. If you are taking any medications, it is always best to speak with your healthcare provider before taking Bacopa Monnieri.

References

[1] Kean, J.D., Kaufman, J., Lomas, J., Goh, A., White, D., Simpson, D., Scholey, A., Singh, H., Sarris, J., Zangara, A., Stough, C., 2015. A randomized controlled trial investigating the effects of a special extract of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on hyperactivity and inattention in male children and adolescents: BACHI Study Protocol (ANZCTRN12612000827831). Nutrients 7, 9931–9945. https://doi.org/10.3390/nu7125507

[2] Calabrese, C., Gregory, W.L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., Oken, B., 2008. Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 14, 707–713. https://doi.org/10.1089/acm.2008.0018

[3] Shinomol, G.K., Srinivas Bharath, M.M., Muralidhara, 2012. Neuromodulatory propensity of bacopa monnieri leaf extract against 3-nitropropionic acid-induced oxidative stress: In vitro and in vivo evidences. Neurotoxicity Research 22, 102–114. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12640-011-9303-6

[4] ​Aguiar, S., Borowski, T., 2013. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research. https://doi.org/10.1089/rej.2013.1431

[5]Benson, S., Downey, L.A., Stough, C., Wetherell, M., Zangara, A., Scholey, A., 2014. An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood. Phytotherapy Research 28, 551–559. https://doi.org/10.1002/ptr.5029