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 - 246 comments

Jatin
September 25, 2022

Hi David,

Hope you are doing well.

Can I take the homeopathic medicine for bacopa?

It’s named as Dr. Reckeweg Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) Mother Tincture Q.

    David Tomen
    September 26, 2022

    Jatin, I am not familiar with this product. And not sure how a tincture of Bacopa Monnieri would work as a nootropic. Better if you referred to the user reviews wherever you bought it.

James
August 24, 2022

Hey Dave,

What’s your thoughts on having Bacopa and L-Theanine together?

Have a liquid supplement containing both Bacopa and L-Theanine (320mg/200mg per 90ml) and was wondering if it would be beneficial or detrimental to each supplement by having both together at the same time?

Thanks

    David Tomen
    August 31, 2022

    James, both Bacopa Monnieri and L-Theanine are included in Mind Lab Pro and that certainly works well.

Corinne
August 8, 2022

Hi!

I suffer from generalised anxiety disorder. I take some 5htp and it helps a little. Would it be ok to continue on 5 htp while adding Bacopa? No serotonin syndrome to fear?
Thank you 🙂

    David Tomen
    August 8, 2022

    Corinne, Serotonin Syndrome will not a problem. But what may happen is 5-HTP will work for awhile and then stop working. Because you upset the balance of serotonin and dopamine using only 5-HTP.

      Khalid
      October 12, 2022

      Hi David,

      Just a follow up to your answer about 5-htp and Bacopa. If i take L-tryrosine 500mg in the morning and the afternoon then Bacopa and 5-htp in the evening, would that balance the dopamine and serotonin ratio?.

      Thanks

        David Tomen
        October 14, 2022

        Khalid, Bacopa Monnieri will not help for keeping that balance but either 5-HTP or L-Tryptophan will increase serotonin to keep it in balance with dopamine.

        Jack
        January 1, 2024

        Hello David,

        There’s something I don’t understand, maybe you can enlighten me?

        In your comment from 2022/08/08, you mention that taking 5-HTP will upset the balance of serotonin and dopamine.

        Then in your comment from 2020/10/14, you state that 5-HTP will increase serotonin to keep balance with dopamine.

        It seems to me that these comments are contradictory?

        Thank you in advance.

        Sorry for my English, which is not my native language.

        David Tomen
        January 1, 2024

        Jack, my apologies for not being clear. 5-HTP will directly increase serotonin. If you only increase serotonin you will end up suppressing dopamine if done long-term and a high enough dose of 5-HTP.

        Dopamine and serotonin need to be in balance. But there is no set ratio to support this balance. I personally use 500 mg L-Tyrosine 3-times per day with 500 mg L-Tryptophan before bed. And that works for me.

Maggie
July 15, 2022

Hi David,

Tried Bacopa by Nature’s Answer (20% Bacosides), consumed with healthy fats on 3 separate instances:

First time took it for 4 days, 1 x 500mg capsule, 2 x p/d (one in the AM, one in the early PM): Experienced exhausting headaches and nausea.
Reduced the dose to 1 x 500mg p/d for the remainder of the week: Headaches and nausea went away, but I felt a lack of energy, focus, and motivation, as well as severe confusion & brain fog
Waited 2 months and took 1/2 capsule (250mg), 2 x p/d to feel the same confusion and numbness again.

Would you advise me trying to combine it with something or just accept it’s not for me?

Female, 32, ADD, no other medication aside from Nicotine intake.

P.S. love your videos and the nootropics Encyclopedia, thank you for sharing your passion and knowledge with all of us!

    David Tomen
    July 17, 2022

    Maggie, you’ve tested Bacopa Monnieri twice with the same negative effects. So, it sounds like Bacopa is just the wrong supplement for you.

Charlotte
July 7, 2022

Hi David!

Does Bacopa goes well with aniracetam ?
For depression and motivation.

Plus I take KSM66 Ashwagandha, Lemon balm, Gingko biloba before bed

    David Tomen
    July 8, 2022

    Charlotte, it is not contraindicated. Try it and see if it works for you.

Adrian Rezvani
July 3, 2022

Great post David!
I wanted your take on the effects of taking 5-10mg of Adderall IR, alongside Bacopa or Synapsa. I’ve talked to my pharmacy and psychiatrist and they report no ill interactions when taken together. While Adderall gave me precisely what I’m looking for when it comes to the energy, focus, and motivation I get to study; I’ve noticed that my memory, in general, has been stunted. Synapsa Bacopa looks very promising when it comes to improving memory when it comes to schoolwork/exams. Anecdotal reports suggest that the Bacopa cancels out the effect of the stim when taken together. Would you have any advice on timing out the two, so that I may receive both of their effects? Or if anything, an alternative?

I take Adderall 10-20mg total depending on my workload for the day, averaging out to around 2-3x.

Sandra
June 2, 2022

Hi David! Thank you so much for your time, I’m very grateful!

I would like to ask you about cortisol topic.

Isn’t cortisol designed to trigger fight-or-flight?

I’m not sure but I sustpect I could be low or cortisol, but didn’t had a chance to do saliva cortisol test. On stop the thyrioid madness I’ve read that lower cortisol could make me unrefreshed in the morning. Which is 100% me, no matter how I change my sleep stack, I fall a sleep within minute, sleep without wakeups and wake up VERY unrefreshed and unmotivated to start my day.

I take many things for cortisol lowering incl. Bacopa, turmeric, PS, astahxanthin, magnesium etc. Should I stop suplementing with these? Before using noottropics I was already TOO calm in stressful situations. Isn’t lowering cortisol making my situation worse?

Sorry for my long message 🙁
I would like to know what you think about this topic.

    David Tomen
    June 4, 2022

    Sandra, you definitely need cortisol. If you are dealing with Adrenal Fatigue you may want to try what I use 4-times per day here: https://amzn.to/3zm4Ekb.

    Avoiding supplement that also reduce cortisol will not likely help if you are dealing with adrenal fatigue. Only supporting your adrenals will help.

STYLIANOS IORDANIS
May 18, 2022

How serious can the effect on male semen/fertiliy of bacopa. I am worried about the results in mice ( lower sperm count, testosterone drop, motility etc).
I bought some dried powder but consume it very rarely, to not impact fertility
btw it’s a very interesting plant.
Bacosides are amazing, have a hormone skeleton structure and they look like other anti aging molecules, too.
Brahmin in bacopa is also an intriguing alkaloid, reminds me of nicotine (also some present in bacopa), not much is known about it

    David Tomen
    May 20, 2022

    Stylianos, the study you are referring to as done with mice (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19041444/) and it reduce sperm production and did not touch Testosterone. This has not be reproduced in humans.

    In Ayurvedic medicine Bacopa Monnieri is used in Rasayana formulas to promote longevity. The plant contains ecdysteroids which increase protein synthesis, and improves physical and sexual performance (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15638733/).

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