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Bacopa: An Ayurvedic Herb for Boosting Memory and Immunity

Bacopa monnieri, also known as Bacopa racemosa, has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. It's called Brahmi in India.
Bacopa for Boosting Memory and Immunity

Overview

People of all ages have relied on the Ayurvedic herb Bacopa monniera (also known as Brahmi) for centuries to aid in their ability to learn and retain new information. In fact, it is classified as a rasayana  (herbal remedy) in ancient Vedic texts to slow brain aging and help regenerate neural tissues. It is still considered the greatest herb in Ayurveda for treating age-related mental decline, as well as for improving cognitive processes, including comprehension, memory, and recall.  Today, scientists are studying how bacopa supports cognitive function and are discovering interesting additional benefits.

Key Benefits

  • Enhances memory
  • Helps reduce anxiety and depression
  • Helps support lung health
  • Calms children
  • Supports students’ confidence, mental clarity, and recall
  • Supports students who have Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD) 
  • Provides antioxidant effects

History of Usage

Bacopa is also called “Brahmi” after the god Brahma, the Indian god who is considered the creator and supreme intellect of the universe. The ancient Indian Vedas call bacopa a rasayana, or rejuvenator. Bacopa was traditionally used to bless newborn babies because it was believed the herb would make them smart.

Scientists have since proven the nootropic (brain-enhancing) and anxiety-reducing benefits of bacopa with hundreds of studies. It is a staple in Ayurvedic medicine and it is now finding huge success in the brain enhancing supplement sector.

Biochemistry

A number of compounds have been identified in Bacopa, including bacosides A and B, two chemicals that improve the transmission of impulses among nerve cells in the brain. Bacosides aid in cognitive function, making it easier to learn and retain new knowledge. Bacopa, therefore, helps in boosting memory and immunity. Serotonin, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well-being, is supported by the herb bacopa as well.

Neuroprotective effects of Bacopa at 50 mg/kg were demonstrated in the colchicine model of dementia through its antioxidant effect and the restoration of Na+K+ATPase and AChE activities, respectively.

Bacopa monnieri appears to inhibit the release of cytokines, which are molecules that stimulate an immune response, as observed in test-tube studies.

Recent Trends

In light of the aging population and the need to treat neurological disorders, the global market for brain health supplements is expected to grow. From 2021 to 2029, the market is expected to grow 10%.

Bacopa supplements are projected to be the fastest-growing brain health supplement with a CAGR of 21.4% in the same time period. Bacopa is available as capsules, leaves, tinctures, oils, and powders as nutritional supplements and hair and skin products. It is most commonly taken in capsule form in doses ranging from 300 to 450 mg per day.

Precautions

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult with their healthcare professional before taking bacopa.
  • Bacopa is generally safe and effective for people of all ages, but it may cause digestive symptoms such as nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. 
  • Bacopa may interact with certain medications including amitriptyline.
  • Individuals who take prescription drugs should consult with their healthcare professional before taking bacopa.
References
  1. Singh RH, Narsimhamurthy K, Singh G. Neuronutrient impact of Ayurvedic Rasayana therapy in brain aging. Biogerontology. 2008 Dec;9(6):369-74. Epub 2008 Oct 18 
  2. Uabundit N, Wattanathorn J, Mucimapura S, Ingkaninan K. Cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective effects of Bacopa monnieri in Alzheimer’s disease model. J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Jan 8;127(1):26-31. Epub 2009 Oct 4. 
  3. Stough C, Downey LA, Lloyd J, Silber B, Redman S, Hutchison C, Wesnes K, Nathan PJ. Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytother Res. 2008 Dec;22(12):1629-34.
  4. Calabrese C, Gregory WL, 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. J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):707-13.
  5. Roodenrys S, Booth D, Bulzomi S, Phipps A, Micallef C, Smoker J. Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Aug;27(2):279-81.
  6. Negi KS, Singh YD, Kushwaha KP, Rastogi CK, Rathi AK, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP, Gupta RC, Lucknow G. “Clinical evaluation of memory enhancing properties of Memory Plus in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.” Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2000 Apr; 42(2) Supplement
  7. Channa S, Dar A, Yaqoob M, Anjum S, Sultani Z, Atta-ur-Rahman. Broncho-vasodilatory activity of fractions and pure constituents isolated from Bacopa monniera. J Ethnopharmacol.  2003 May; 86(1): 27-35.
  8. Nemetchek MD, Stierle AA, Stierle DB, Lurie DI. The Ayurvedic plant Bacopa monnieri inhibits inflammatory pathways in the brain. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Feb 2;197:92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.07.073. Epub 2016 Jul 26. PMID: 27473605; PMCID: PMC5269610.
  9. Williams R, Münch G, Gyengesi E, Bennett L. Bacopa monnieri (L.) exerts anti-inflammatory effects on cells of the innate immune system in vitro. Food Funct. 2014 Mar;5(3):517-20. doi: 10.1039/c3fo60467e. PMID: 24452710.
  10. Holcomb LA, Dhanasekaran M, Hitt AR, Young KA, Riggs M, Manyam BV. Bacopa monniera extract reduces amyloid levels in PSAPP mice. J Alzheimers Dis. 2006 Aug;9(3):243-51. doi: 10.3233/jad-2006-9303. PMID: 16914834.