There has been a mounting interest in the use of natural herbs to treat various ailments. These herbs are not only nutritious, but they also provide several health benefits. Bacopa monnieri benefits the body and mind in many ways and is one such brain supplement.
Nootropics exist as an alternative for patients who fail to get results with normal remedies. Many of today’s best herbs treated mental health problems in the Eastern world thousands of years ago. These healing herbs are not only useful, but they often carry far fewer side effects than traditional prescription medications. Bacopa supplements can help ADHD, anxiety and depression, memory retention, thyroid health, and much more.
According to recent statistics, 64% of millennials suffer from high-stress levels. When antidepressant medications don’t seem to work, herbal products like bacopa monnieri extract are the next best option. It is one of the most studied and clinically proven herbs in existence for cognitive function. In this article, we will explore this nootropic’s full range of health benefits along with its side effects and dosage recommendations.
What is Bacopa Monnieri?
What is bacopa monnieri? Bacopa monnieri is a native Indian perennial herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for 3000 years. It grows abundantly in the wetlands of Europe, Asia, Australia, and South America. You may know this nootropic supplement by several names such as:
Brahmi (named after the Hindu god of creation, Brahmā)
With its appearance, you’ll notice an arrangement of four to five small white flower petals. Brahmi is quite famous for its use as an aquarium plant. But, the bacopa herb extract appears in many brain boosters that sharpen one’s mental acuity and cognition. No, it’s not the limitless pill NZT-48. Pills of that nature do not exist (yet). Still, ancient texts described the use of bacopa as an effective way to help scholars memorize lengthy scriptures.
Bacopa often treats conditions like fatigue, asthma, and inflammation. Since bacopa is an adaptogen, it’s also known to relieve the physical and chemical effects of stress. For this purpose, bacopa supplements are safer to use than most psychotropic medications. This nootropic has an extremely negligible side effect profile making it safe for long-term use.
Many of the benefits of bacopa monnieri derive from its high concentration of bacosides. Bacosides are compounds that provide the plant’s therapeutic and medicinal benefits and increase antioxidant capacity. To be specific, bacosides A and B contribute to improving memory and speed of learning through the increased growth of nerve endings in the brain. As a result, neurons can share information at a much faster rate.
The bacopa extract also increases the brain’s levels of dopamine and serotonin. Higher levels of both neurotransmitters lead to improved mood and reduced depression. Also, bacopa can absorb harmful free radicals, while creating more neuronal connections. Bacopa is one of the best smart drugs with a variety of physical and mental health benefits.
10 Bacopa Monnieri Extract Health Benefits and Uses
1. Improves ADHD Symptoms
Bacopa monnieri has proven to improve cognition and brain function in children with ADHD. It can also simultaneously reduce the severity of ADHD symptoms. A double-blind, randomized trial examined 31 children between 6 and 12 years old in 2014. The kids participating in the study supplemented 225mg of standardized bacopa daily for six months.
Children experienced a 93% reduction in restlessness, 78% fewer learning problems, and a 67% drop in impulsivity. Self-control also improved by an average of 89%. Using bacopa for ADHD is not currently recognized by medical doctors as a standard treatment. However, there is a lot of promising evidence to suggest that it may be a useful substitute for Adderall.
Another placebo-controlled study treated ADHD-diagnosed children with a bacopa monnieri supplement. One group of children took 50mg of bacopa extract twice per day, while another group got a placebo. In the bacopa group, logical memory and attention span showed improvement.
The evaluation took place one month after stopping treatment. The research shows that the effects of bacopa supplementation are long-lasting. If you’re looking to avoid the harsh side effects of prescription stimulants, bacopa monnieri for ADHD is worth a look.
2. Helps Reduce Stress, Anxiety & Depression
One of the bacopa monnieri benefits is that it’s an adaptogen. Adaptogens are compounds that protect your body from the harmful effects of stress. In one study, scientists fed highly stressed rats with 40 mg/kg of bacopa for seven days. The studied rats experienced significantly less stress-related damage to their ulcers than untreated rats.
One cross-over study of 17 healthy adults found that 320mg of bacopa lowered cortisol levels. This result demonstrates that the stress-reducing phenomenon is seen in human studies as well.
Bacopa can help your body better adapt to both acute and chronic stress. One explanation for this mental health benefit is the increase in glutamate levels. In individuals with chronic stress, glutamate gets depleted. There may be a link between bacopa and glutaminergic neurotransmission that preserves this vital balance.
Bacopa monnieri has also been shown to possess anti-anxiety and anti-depressant activity. One study examined 54 healthy seniors taking 300mg of bacopa extract every day for three months. The supplementation dramatically lowered their depression and anxiety levels.
As mentioned previously, dopamine and serotonin levels increase when using bacopa supplements. They are the “feel good” hormones responsible for your sense of well-being. This benefit means that using bacopa for anxiety and depression is an effective natural remedy for boosting mood.
3. Enhances Memory Retention
A randomized trial of 98 older men and women involved 300mg of bacopa or placebo consumed daily. The bacopa monnieri group improved their ability to recall old information. They also acquired new memories much faster. Overall, the difference between them and the placebo group was significant.
This finding agrees with a systematic review of 6 human clinical trials. The dosages studied were between 300mg and 450mg of bacopa extract. In each case, the subjects showed enhanced brain function.
Bacopa’s ability to improve memory retention also extends toward working memory (short-term memory). Healthy adult volunteers took 150mg of a bacopa supplement twice daily for 90 days in a human trial. Compared to the placebo, the short-term memory in the bacopa group was far more accurate.
This observation was valid for things related to a subject’s immediate environment. Subjects were less likely to forget new information and more likely to retain it. Humans can use bacopa for memory and experience phenomenal results. Bacopa appears in several of the best memory supplements on the market.
4. Supports Thyroid Function
One of the little-known bacopa benefits is supplementing it to improve thyroid function. Your thyroid system secretes hormones that regulate your body's vital functions. It does so by secreting the hormones triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). Without T3 and T4, your body cannot function properly, and your metabolism may suffer.
Hypothyroidism takes place when T3 and T4 levels are too low. Lower levels indicate an underactive thyroid system. Side effects include wild mood swings, inability to concentrate, constipation and more. Better thyroid function may be one of many bacopa health benefits.
Only one credible study examines using bacopa monnieri as a natural thyroid supplement. In it, male mice with hypothyroidism were orally given 200 mg/kg of bacopa for 15 days straight. As a result, the mice experienced a 41% increase in T4 concentration within their bodies. It is the first study to suggest that bacopa supplements stimulate the thyroid gland.
5. Helps Treat Alzheimer’s & Dementia
When it comes to treating Alzheimer’s, one of the main culprits is beta-amyloid plaques. They form blockages between neurons. This obstruction damages the neuron’s ability to communicate with each another. In turn, this reduces the central nervous system’s processing efficiency. These plaques are the main contributor to the neurodegenerative symptoms of Alzheimer’s.
We know that choline supplements can help protect the brain against cognitive decline. Likewise, a benefit of bacopa monnieri may involve its potential as a neuroprotective agent. Its mechanism of action allows for the reduction of beta-amyloid levels in your brain. One study done in mice with Alzheimer’s found that as little as 20 mg/kg of bacopa herb extract made a statistically relevant difference. This dosage improved the speed at which the mice were able to escape from a challenging maze.
Bacopa has also demonstrated promise in reversing the negative symptoms of dementia. A scientific study examined rats with cognitive impairment. The rats participated in a maze designed to assess long-term memory. Rats that got 50 mg/kg of bacopa monnieri for 15 days straight improved their performance in the maze. This research indicates possible prevention of cognitive decline.
6. Regulates Blood Pressure
A study published in 1980 found that bacopa monnieri helps reduce blood pressure in stressed individuals. Over a four-week period, they examined 35 patients with high anxiety levels. On average, systolic blood pressure dropped to 112 mm Hg from 117 mm Hg. These same patients also experienced less fatigue and lowered anxiety levels. Out of all the bacopa herb benefits, blood pressure regulation was perhaps the most surprising result.
In 2012, researchers conducted another study on anesthetized rats. Like the previous study, they wanted to determine how bacopa supplements reduce blood pressure. Researchers found that the arterial muscles were relaxed, improving blood flow. The lower blood pressure is due to nitric oxide secretion from the inner cells of arteries. Nitric oxide is a dilator and relaxant, naturally leading to lowered blood pressure.
7. Lowers Bodily Inflammation
Bacopa monnieri needs more in-depth examination with regards to inflammation. However, it has shown potential in treating specific forms. For instance, a 2011 study examined cell cultures exhibiting arthritic activity.
Arthritis is a disease brought about by chronic inflammation, primarily affecting the joints. A tiny dose of bacopa monnieri extract inhibited 90% of all protein denaturation. Protein denaturation is the mechanism by which arthritis spreads.
There was another experiment completed in 2014 on immune system cells affected by inflammation. Researchers found that bacopa monnieri reduced the secretion of inflammation-promoting proteins. This same phenomenon reappeared in a separate paper published in 2017. In it, bacopa inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory molecules in the brain.
8. Improves Cognitive Function
Bacopa monnieri doesn’t merely improve cognitive function in mentally deficient people. A six-week randomized trial on medical students showed that this nootropic works wonders on healthy young adults as well. The sought to assess changes in mental performance and brain fog reduction. One group received a placebo, and another took 150mg of bacopa extract twice per day. Shortly after the six-week period, the students took a variety of mental tests.
The group using bacopa monnieri supplements were far less distracted and more focused. They learned and retained new material much faster and recalled it correctly in a shorter period. The study also assessed other cognitive functions besides memory in healthy adults.
One of the primary bacopa benefits included increased blood flow to the brain in humans. Blood flow is essential for cognition. It helps deliver more oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain. The bacosides in bacopa repair damaged neurons and regenerate old brain tissue. Both functions are essential for maintaining mental acuity, even in old age. This study proves that bacopa is an excellent nootropic for focus.
9. Natural Epilepsy Treatment
There are many complex mechanisms behind epilepsy. An established mechanism is the sensitivity of GABA receptors in your brain. When receptors are overly sensitive, they over-excite neurons. As a result, overexcitability leads to increases in epileptic episodes and symptoms. Research suggests bacopa monnieri could help downregulate GABA receptor activity. In doing so, it will prevent over-stimulation of your neurons.
Research in epileptic rats found that bacoside A lowered GABA receptor activity. Bacoside A is the dominant bacoside in bacopa extract. The study showed that bacopa led to the reversal of changes in the brain associated with epilepsy. Researchers have also found that bacoside A can prevent seizures in epileptic rats.
10. May Help Chronic Pain
Medical experts are examining the bacopa supplement for pain reduction. Human studies are still underway, but a fair amount of research on mice currently exists.
In 2017, a study was conducted involving the treatment of neuropathic pain in rats. This type of pain happens when your peripheral nerves are damaged. This outcome appears most in patients with hyperalgesia, a condition where a person experiences increased sensitivity to pain. Bacopa monnieri successfully lowered the rats' perception of pain.
One review examined bacopa as an alternative to opioids for chronic pain management. Bacopa monnieri's anti-pain effect is similar in the magnitude of pain reduction. Bacopa is also far better tolerated with fewer side effects. Its anti-inflammatory activity may also play a role in reducing chronic pain.
Bacopa Monnieri Side Effects
What are the side effects of bacopa monnieri? All bacopa monnieri studies show that side effects are minor in scope and rare in occurrence.
The most common bacopa side effects include upset stomach, nausea, and dry mouth. Reports indicate that these effects may gradually disappear if one continues taking bacopa supplements.
It is currently unknown how bacopa monnieri interacts with other drugs. You should not combine it with any medication that treats your thyroid system.
Avoid taking it with sedatives, if possible. Pregnant and breastfeeding women would be well advised to avoid taking bacopa. Please visit your physician to see if taking bacopa monnieri is a suitable decision for you.
Bacopa Monnieri Dosage
What is the optimal bacopa monnieri dose? The dosage you take depends on multiple factors. They include your health status, age, wellness goals and more.
Numerous clinical trials performed on humans tend to use a standard bacopa dose. The exact dosage is 300mg of bacopa monnieri extract consisting of 55% bacosides by weight. One can safely experience the health benefits of bacopa with minimal side effects.
Divide your bacopa monnieri dosage into two or three smaller portions throughout the day. Avoid supplementation on an empty stomach. Make sure you take bacopa with a meal containing fat for maximum absorption. Start with the lowest dosage and gradually build up your tolerance towards it until reaching the desired effects.
Long-term studies report that bacopa’s benefits become most noticeable after 12 weeks of regular use. Therefore, please allow some time for effects to take place.
Final Thoughts on the Health Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is emerging as a viable medical alternative towards several cognitive problems. Conventional treatments often have too many unwanted side effects or deliver mixed results. Therefore, it never hurts to explore other options such as nootropics to boost mental energy.
Scientific research continues to investigate the benefits of bacopa claimed by traditional practitioners. Bacopa extract has been widely utilized for centuries to improve mental abilities. Such treatments include reducing ADHD symptoms, improving memory retention, and even enhancing overall cognition. Bacopa can also treat a variety of ailments including high blood pressure, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, arthritis, and even neurodegenerative diseases.
High-quality bacopa supplements must be grown away from urban areas by a reputable company. Your bacopa monnieri should come in a light-resistant container. Ensure that you store your supplement in a cool dark place for maximum efficacy and health benefits.
How has using bacopa monnieri helped your cognitive health? Drop us a message to share your thoughts.