Bacopa Monnieri helps repair neural networks

Bacopa Monnieri

David Tomen
Author:
David Tomen
10 minute read
Bacopa Monnieri has been shown to boost memory and cognition, improve mood, and reduce stress.

Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) is a perennial, creeping, aquatic herb. Originally from the wetlands of India, and other southeastern Asian countries.

Bacopa, also known as water hyssop, is often referred to as “Brahmi”. Named after the supreme god Brahma.

The nootropic benefits of Bacopa Monnieri were first revealed in ancient Ayurvedic texts. In was recommended to devotees to help memorize long passages of text. And enhance cognition.

And Bacopa Monnieri is an adaptogen. It helps prevent the chemical and physical effects of stress. Instead of just suppressing them like many modern antidepressants.

Bacopa Monnieri helps:

  • Neurotransmitters. Bacopa affects brain levels of acetylcholine which is important for memory and cognition.
  • Cognition. Bacopa has antioxidant effects which enhances cognitive function. Bacopa extract helps prevent arterial plaque that can lead to heart attack, stroke and other neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Anxiety and stress. Bacopa has a significant anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effect. It appears to modulate brain levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin. This has an effect on mood regulation.

Overview

Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) is an aquatic herb originally found in the wetlands and marshy areas of Southeast Asia and India.

Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa, also known as water hyssop, is often referred to as “Brahmi”. Named after the supreme god Brahma.

Ancient Ayurvedic texts talked about Bacopa. It was recommended to devotees to help memorize long passages of text.

In the West, Bacopa Monnieri is often used to reduce anxiety, depression and stress. But it’s gaining popularity in the nootropic community as a powerful memory and cognition booster.

The active compound Bacoside A in Bacopa easily crosses the blood-brain barrier.

How does Bacopa Monnieri Work in the Brain?

Bacopa Monnieri boosts brain health and function in several ways. But two in particular stand out.

  1. Bacopa Monnieri boosts memory. Bacopa’s two active components are bacosides A and B. They improve the signaling of electrical impulses between neurons in your brain. Bacosides also help rebuild damaged neurons.

Bacopa Monnieri helps you learn and remember things more easily. In one study, researchers gave 54 volunteers in Portland, Oregon 300 mg of B. Monnieri per day for 12 weeks.

After the 12-week study, the people taking Bacopa had:

  • Better word recall
  • Better attention
  • Better memory scoresBacopa Monnieri better memory
  • A greater ability to focus while learning
  • Less anxiety and lower heart rates[i]
  1. Bacopa Monnieri reduces stress. Bacopa has traditionally been used in Ayurveda as a tonic for the nervous system. It helps to reduce anxiety.

Research at Banaras Hindu University in India showed Bacopa as effective for anxiety as the benzodiazepine drug lorazepam. One of the side effects of lorazepam is memory loss. Bacopa Monnieri on the other hand, reduced anxiety while boosting cognition.[ii]

How things go bad

Chronic stress and cortisol can damage your brain. Neuroscientists at the University of California, Berkeley, found that chronic stress triggers long-term change in brain structure and function.[iii]

Chronic stress damages neural networks. Certain proteins are over-expressed damaging neurons as a result.

Toxins invade cells, hijacking their normal, healthy function. And oxidative damage by free radicals harm brain cells if they’re not removed.

↓ Chronic stress reduces memory capacityBacopa Monnieri helps chronic stress

↓ Toxins kill brain cells from the inside

↓ Free radicals destroy neurons and synapses

Under conditions of chronic stress your brain loses the capacity to transmit signals between neurons efficiently. Memory, cognition, and decision-making all suffer as a result.

Bacopa Monnieri benefits

Bacopa Monnieri undoes damage to the brain caused by chronic stress. And helps keep it healthy. This is a little complicated, so stay with me here.

Your brain is protected by heat-shock protein 70 (Hsp70), cytochrome enzymes EROD and PROD, and superoxide dismutase (SOD).

Hsp70 helps proteins in cells retain normal structure so they remain functional. EROD (7-ethoxyresorufin-O-deethylase) and PROD (7-pentoxyresorufin-O-dealkylase) are detox enzymes. They protect your brain by converting bad toxins into less harmful compounds. And SOD battles destructive free radicals called superoxides. And converts them into harmless organic compounds.

Bacopa Monnieri Keeps Your Brain Healthy Under Stress

When you are under stress, levels of Hsp70 increase in all regions of your brain. But research shows that animals pretreated with Bacopa for 7 days prevented most of this increase in Hsp70. Particularly in areas of the brain responsible for memory.Bacopa Monnieri to the rescue

This means that producing less Hsp70 under stress, Bacopa makes your brain less susceptible to stress. Bacopa kept those regions of the brain in a non-stressed state. Even in the presence of stress.

Bacopa also has a preemptive action on EROD and PROD. Rats treated with Bacopa, but not under stress, saw an increase in these two enzymes.  Suggesting that Bacopa helps stockpile these protective enzymes to help you better deal with stress.

And when it comes to SOD, researchers said, “Bacopa helps in coping with the combined hypoxic, hypothermic, and immobilization stress, which could lead to an onslaught of free radicals.” So Bacopa helps SOD activity and prepares cells to weather attacks by free radicals.[iv]

Translated, this all means Bacopa Monnieri helps your brain deal with stress. And helps boost memory.

Bacopa Monnieri helps repair neural networks

How does Bacopa Monnieri feel?

The effects of Bacopa are not felt immediately. But seem to build over time. Some users report a pronounced anti-anxiety effect within 2 – 4 days of supplementing with Bacopa.

In one study done in Australia, results were measured at 5 and 12 weeks of taking Bacopa. The results showed improved speed of information processing, and an increase in learning and memory. Maximum reduction in anxiety was realized after 12 weeks of use.[v]

Some neurohackers say they feel the effects of Bacopa Monnieri sooner than 4 weeks. And the effects seem to keep working even after stopping supplementation. The effects are long-term.

Long term users say they consistently feel calmer, can think quicker and have better memory.

Bacopa Monnieri for longevity

Bacopa Monnieri Clinical Research

Bacopa Monnieri as a Nootropic

This double-blind placebo-controlled investigation was done at Swinburne University in Australia. 107 healthy participants were given 300 mg of Bacopa Monnieri extract for 90 days.

After 90 days, the people who took B. Monnieri extract showed significant improvement in spatial memory, memory accuracy and their ability to process visual information.[vi]

Bacopa Monnieri for Stress Reduction

Bacopa is likely best known for reducing stress. Recent research at Swinburne University of Technology in Australia confirmed this in the lab.

In this double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study 17 healthy volunteers were given 320 mg or 640 mg of Bacopa extract. The study reported significant mood improvement, and decreased levels of cortisol.

This study demonstrated Bacopa’s adaptogenic qualities. Bacopa Monnieri counteracted the effects of stress by regulating hormones involved in the stress response.[vii]

Bacopa Monnieri for Longevity

Long-term exposure to aluminum can increase your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease by 60 percent.[viii] (So check your underarm deodorant label before you read the rest of this article).

Research shows that Bacopa Monnieri can protect you from toxins that are harmful to your brain. Including aluminum.

It prevents the buildup of toxins between and inside neurons. And prevents damage to the hippocampus. The area of your brain critical for learning, memory and cognitive power.

Scientists at Jawaharlal Nehru University in India laced rats’ drinking water with aluminum chloride. The same aluminum that’s toxic to your brain. Some of the rats in this study had the protective power of Bacopa Monnieri going for them.

Bacopa Monnieri protected the rat’s brains from oxidative damage from the aluminum. And it worked as well as the Alzheimer’s drug selegiline. Bacopa restored the enzyme superoxide dismutase (SOD) to levels near normal. Indicating Bacopa Monnieri’s anti-aging potential.[ix]

Bacopa Monnieri dosage notes

Bacopa Monnieri Recommended Dosage

There is no ‘right’ dosage of Bacopa. Each person’s body is unique. In general, use the lowest dosage that works for you. And Bacopa works better if taken a few days in a row rather than just once.

Recommended dosage of Bacopa Monnieri containing 45% bacosides is 200 – 450 mg per day.

Recommended dosage of Bacopa Monnieri containing 20% bacosides is 750 mg per day.

Higher dosing should be divided equally with your first dose in the morning, and next dose early afternoon.

Bacopa is fat-soluble so should be taken with a healthy fat source like organic, cold-pressed virgin olive or coconut oil. Fat helps your body absorb the compounds in Bacopa that bring you benefit. And helps deliver it into your brain cells.

Bacopa Monnieri Side Effects

Side effects for Bacopa Monnieri are rare when taken as directed. But can include fatigue and upset stomach.

Types of Bacopa Monnieri to buy

The bioactive component of Bacopa Monnieri is Bacoside A. Which is a mixture of saponins with bacoside A3, bacopaside II, and jujubogenin isomer of bacopasaponin C.

Bacopa Monnieri extract can be found in some of higher quality pre-formulated nootropic stacks. For example, Mind Lab Pro® contains 11 brain enhancing nootropic compounds including Bacopa Monnieri extract with 24% bacosides and all the bioactive saponins and isomers listed above.

I recommend Mind Lab Pro because it addresses all aspects of anxiety resistance, memory and cognitive enhancement, stabilizes mood, brain repair, and maintenance.

This premium nootropic stack is designed to affect neurotransmitters, cognitive energy, brain waves, neuroprotection, and regeneration. See my Mind Lab Pro 4.0 review for a detailed report.

Bacopa supplements are also available as a powder, capsules and tablets. Check the label for the concentration of Bacosides. A Bacopa extract with a higher Bacoside concentration requires a lower dose.

Nootropics Expert Recommendation

Bacopa Monnieri up to 450 mg per day

Nootropics Expert Tested and ApprovedI recommend using Bacopa Monnieri as a nootropic supplement.

Your body does not make Bacopa Monnieri on its own. So you must take it as a supplement.

B. Monnieri is especially helpful for those suffering from anxiety and stress. Studies show it helps stop and reverse the devastating effects of stress on your brain, and body. This nootropic helps repair damage to neurons and synapses caused by chronic stress.

Bacopa is a powerful adaptogen. Which means it helps increase the effect of certain hormones when activity is low. And will block excess stimulation when activity is high.

Bacopa Monnieri is also helpful for those suffering from anxiety and panic disorders. A study published in Phytomedicine showed the calming effect of this herb was equal to the drug Ativan (lorazepam). Without the side effects.

The ancient Ayurvedic texts knew what we’re only now discovering. That Bacopa is a powerful memory enhancer. Recent studies in Australia and the USA show B. Monnieri helps improve word recall, memory scores, attention and learning.

You can buy individual Bacopa Monnieri supplements. Or you could try my favorite pre-formulated nootropic stack Mind Lab Pro® which includes the full spectrum saponins, bacosides, and isomers in its Bacopa Monnieri extract.

Mind Lab Pro contains a synergistic blend of 11 brain enhancing nootropics covering all aspects of cognition and brain health. See my full Mind Lab Pro 4.0 review for more.

You can safely take up to 450 mg of Bacopa Monnieri extract (45% Bacosides) daily if needed. Half the dose first thing in the morning. And the other half early afternoon. And it’s fat-soluble. So to ensure absorption take it with a tablespoon of virgin coconut or MCT oil.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may also contain other affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.

[i] Calabrese N.D., Gregory W.L., Leo M., Kraemer D., Bone K., Oken B. “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 Complimentary Medicine 2008 Jul; 14(6): 707–713. (source)

[ii] Bhattacharya S.K., Ghosal S. “Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study.” Phytomedicine. 1998 Apr;5(2):77-82 (source)

[iii] “New evidence that chronic stress predisposes brain to mental illness” University of California, Berkeley Feb. 11, 2014, Retrieved Mar. 24, 2016 (source)

[iv] Chowdhuri D.K., Parmar D., Kakkar P., Shukla R., Seth P.K., Srimal R.C. “Antistress effects of bacosides of Bacopa monnieri: modulation of Hsp70 expression, superoxide dismutase and cytochrome P450 activity in rat brain.” Phytotherapy Research 2002 Nov;16(7):639-45. (source)

[v] Stough C., Lloyd J., Clarke J., Downey L.A., Hutchison C.W., Rodgers T., Nathan P.J. “The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects.”Psychopharmacology 2001 Aug;156(4):481-4. (source)

[vi] Stough C., Downey L.A., Lloyd J., Silber B., Redman S., Hutchison C., Wesnes K., Nathan P.J. “Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial.” Phytotherapy Research 2008 Dec;22(12):1629-34 (source)

[vii] Benson S., Downey L.A., Stough C., Wetherell M., Zangara A., Scholey A. “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 2014 Apr;28(4):551-9. (source)

[viii] Jansson E.T. “Aluminum exposure and Alzheimer’s disease.”Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease 2001 Dec;3(6):541-549. (source)

[ix] Jyoti A., Sharma D. “Neuroprotective role of Bacopa monniera extract against aluminium-induced oxidative stress in the hippocampus of rat brain.” Neurotoxicity 2006 Jul;27(4):451-7. (source)

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Join The Discussion - 256 comments

Szilvia
May 30, 2024

Dear David, is Bacopa contraindicated with clonazepam? Bacopa during the day, the smallest clonazepam in the evening, so not taken together. Thank you very much if you answer!

    David Tomen
    May 31, 2024

    Szilvia, they are not contraindicated. But no studies have been done using both either. So, like any herbal supplement and med combo you need to be careful.

Szilvia
April 26, 2024

Dear David, I take St. John’s wort 900 mg, lithium orotate 10-15 mg, sometimes passionflower and valerian, and a little Clonazepam in the evening. Does Bacopa interact with any of these? Thank you very much for your answer in advance!

    David Tomen
    April 26, 2024

    Passionflower and valerian could cause problems with St. John’s wort and Clonazepam.

Szilvia
April 25, 2024

Dear David, I don’t think Bacopa can be taken with St. John’s wort, is it?

    David Tomen
    April 25, 2024

    They are not contraindicated. You can use both if you need to.

Sandi Amiradaki
March 11, 2024

Hi David,
I use to take SAM-e with Bacopa for PTSD and it worked well for me but after about 12 months I started getting very irritable and jittery. I stopped the SAM-e and felt better but felt I still needed something for anxiety. I then started 5HTP with the Bacopa and Sun Theanine and felt absolutely awful. What would you recommend I use with the Bacopa. I have Theanine, Choline and L- Tyrosine and don’t really want to experiment all the time as I don’t want to create another monster. Please HEEEELP !

    David Tomen
    March 11, 2024

    Sandi, read my review on SAM-e (https://nootropicsexpert.com/sam-e/) because you need to know how to use it and with what supplements to support its use. For example, simply adding a BioActive B-Complex while using SAM-e may solve your problem.

    Depending on your issues and your age, the addition of CDP-Choline twice per day with ALCAR and L-Tyrosine twice per day will increase dopamine and acetylcholine which works for many especially as you get older.

Alen
February 28, 2024

Hi David,
Thanks a lot for the information above.
I have 2 questions regarding Bacoppa Monnieri:

1) I have taken it with SSRI to reduce the anticholinergic effect and now I would like to combine them with Saffron due to its ability to boost dopamine because I feel unmotivated, is there any contradiction if I also add saffron?
2) My bacopa supplement contains 2-5% bacoside, i take 2 capsules a day (1 capsule has 500 mg powder), do you think it is a too low dosage because I did not feel a clear improvement?

    David Tomen
    March 1, 2024

    Alen, Saffron is a dopamine uptake inhibitor It does not “increase” dopamine but forces dopamine already there back into the synaptic cleft similar to prescription drugs.

    You can “boost” dopamine by using L-Tyrosine. And you can safely increase your Bacopa Monnieri dose to see it works better for you.

      Alen
      March 6, 2024

      i already used L Tyrosin with low dose 650 mg, which caused headache, therefor I wanted to try saffron with them,
      Thank you very much for you reply

        David Tomen
        March 9, 2024

        Alen, certainly try Saffron and see if it helps you. Just make sure you are getting genuine Saffron because that supplement in particular is a target for bad actors in this space. Because it is so expensive to produce. So a lot of them are fake and not real Saffron.

Anthony Epolito
February 17, 2024

Hi David,

Does Bacopa need to be cycled? And is it as effective in rewiring and reversing damage to the brain from chronic stress as Aswaghanda? I love Ashwaghanda but it upsets my stomach and am looking for something comparable.

Thanks,
Tony

    David Tomen
    February 17, 2024

    Anthony, Bacopa Monnieri does not need be cycled nor any other nootropic herb. It does have some brain regeneration benefits but not nearly as powerful as Ashwagandha. There is nothing “comparable” to Ashwagandha.

      Anthony Epolito
      February 18, 2024

      Great, thank you. I believe I am dealing with gastritis at the moment and know I should avoid Aswagandha due to it’s potential to irritate intestinal mucosa. When healed, would a liquid extract be easier to digest?

      Also, is Panax Ginseng tolerable and possibly healing to gastritis?

      Thank you very much.

        David Tomen
        February 19, 2024

        Anthony, my area of expertise is in brain health and not stomach health. But I imagine any supplement in any form including liquid is going to hard on your stomach lining until it is healed.

        I suggest you do a Google search for “best supplements for gastritis” and see what turns up.

Jack
January 1, 2024

In my previous post, I forgot to specify that I’m taking this supplement to try to reduce my generalized anxiety. I’ve tried all available antidepressants without any success. So, I’m trying nootropics. I thought about bacopa because you mentioned that it’s useful for modulating serotonin and can be helpful for social anxiety, which is also my case.

    David Tomen
    January 1, 2024

    Jack, this study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23195757/) used Bacopa Monnieri extract at doses of 5, 10 and 20 mg/kg. They found only the higher dose of 20 mg/kg was effective in reducing anxiety as good as lorazepam.

    That study does not say why it worked for anxiety and this is important. Because it could be either its action on heat-shock protein 70 (Hsp70) and cytochrome enzymes EROD and PROD. Or it could be because according to this study (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24449518/) Bacopaside I which is a major constituent of Bacopa Monnieri, it inhibited the MAO-A enzyme which means this herb also modulates the activity of dopamine and serotonin.

    I bring up this second study because IF this herb helps you with reducing anxiety then other supplements to test include L-Tyrosine which increases dopamine. And L-Tryptophan which increases serotonin.

      Jack
      January 2, 2024

      Thank you very much for this information, which is very helpful to me because I like to understand and see other possible choices.

Jack
January 1, 2024

Hello David,

I bought bacopa containing 20% bacosides, in 250mg capsules. I would like to start with a low dose and gradually increase if necessary, as I often experience side effects with any dietary supplement I take. I would like to know if taking a single capsule in the morning is, in your opinion, sufficient? Because you mention taking it in the morning and early afternoon. I want a small dose to start with, but I want it to be effective. Thank you.

Sorry for my English, it’s not my native language

    David Tomen
    January 1, 2024

    Jack, the recommended dosage of Bacopa Monnieri containing 20% bacosides is 750 mg per day. You can split that dose in half and take 350 mg in the morning and another 350 mg at noon.

    If you are especially sensitive to supplements you may want to start with one dose of 350 mg in the morning and see how you react before taking another dose. Or continuing with Bacopa Monnieri.

    Some will experience the benefits of this herb within the first couple of days of use. But some need to use that total dose daily for 3 – 4 weeks before getting the full benefit of this herb.

      Jack
      January 2, 2024

      Thank you very much for your response.

      I had started with 250mg in the morning, awaiting your additional information.

      Unfortunately, it seems that this supplement is causing stomachaches and digestive issues for me.

      Are these known side effects? Because I didn’t see them on your website.

      Thank you

        David Tomen
        January 4, 2024

        Jack, scroll up to my Side Effects section because this is what it says, “Side effects for Bacopa Monnieri are rare when taken as directed. But can include fatigue and upset stomach.” That is a known issue although it is rare.

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