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.
Table of Contents
Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) is an aquatic herb originally found in the wetlands and marshy areas of Southeast Asia and India.
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.
- 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 scores
- A greater ability to focus while learning
- Less anxiety and lower heart rates[i]
- 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.
↓ 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.
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.
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 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 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.
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
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.
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.
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