Bacopa monnieri (usually just referred to as bacopa) is a great supplement for relaxation. It is most commonly known for its mood enhancing and anti-inflammatory effects, however, Bacopa monnieri shows potential in improving a wide variety of disorders. Read on to discover all the great benefits of Bacopa monnieri.

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

Bacopa monnieri is a creeping herb native to wetlands of southern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. It is a medicinal herb used in Ayurveda, where it is known as “Brahmi” after “Brahma”, the creator God of the Hindu pantheon and“Jalanimba” in India [1].

Bacopa monnieri was initially described around the 6th century A.D. in texts such as the Charaka Samhita, Atharva-Veda, and Susrut Samhita as a “Medhyarasayana”–class herb taken to sharpen intellect and attenuate mental deficits. The herb was allegedly used by ancient Vedic scholars to memorize lengthy sacred hymns and scriptures.

Snapshot

PROs
  • Great for reducing anxiety and relaxation
  • Good for cognitive enhancement
  • Good anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant
CONs
  • Has anti-fertility effects and
  • Can make you more tired if you’re living on a stress response to stay awake
  • Doesn’t taste good and can cause a bit of nausea or stomach upset

Bacopa Monnieri Benfits

1) Antioxidant

Bacopa is a potent antioxidant and has a protective effect on cells. It also has a good free radical and superoxide scavenger and has a protective effect on DNA damage [2, 3, 4].

Bacopa increased the defense against ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species), eradicate oxidative stress, and aluminum-related damage in rodents [5, 6].

Finally, bacopa had a significant protective effect on H2O2 induced DNA damage in human fibroblasts [7].

Mechanism: Bacopa’s antioxidant activity has been shown to be via metal chelation at the initiation level and also as a lipid peroxidation chain action breaker [8].

2) Anti-Inflammatory

Alcoholic extracts of Bacopa demonstrated significant anti-arthritic activity [9].

Bacopa (Betulinic acid) suppressed lipopolysaccharide (LPS) induced IL-6 production in blood mononuclear cells both in the lab tests and within organisms [10].

Mechanism: Bacopa inhibits COX (Cyclooxygenase) and LOX (Lipoxygenase) and decreases TNF-α (Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha) [11].Bacopa inhibits inflammation through modulation of pro-inflammatory mediator release [12].

3) Reduces Stress/Anxiety

Bacopa reduced cortisol and stress in healthy humans [13].

Bacopa reduced retrograde amnesia produced by immobilization-induced stress in healthy humans [14].

Bacopa is a component of “Perment”, a herbal formulation which is effective for stress and depression in humans [15].

Bacopa was an effective anti-stress agent against acute and chronic stress in rats and in treating the mixed anxiety-depressive disorder (MAD) in mice [16, 17].

Bacopa normalized stress-induced alteration in blood corticosterone and levels of monoamines like noradrenaline (NA), Serotonin (5-HT) and Dopamine in rat brains [18].

Bacopa showed antidepressant activity when tested on forced swimming and tail suspension in mice [19].

4) Enhances Memory

Bacopa is traditionally used for enhancing learning and memory [20].

Bacopa extract had positive effects on learning and memory following 12 weeks of administration in post-menopausal women (Pilot study) [20].

An Australian survey showed Bacopa to be one of the most popular aids for memory among 60-64-year-old consumers [21].

Bacopa improved memory free recall in human subjects with dementia or significant cognitive impairment (RCTs) [22].

Bacopa showed a significant effect on the retention of new information and also decreased the rate of forgetting newly acquired information in humans (DB-RCT) [23].

Bacopa significantly improved memory acquisition and retention in healthy older people (DB-RCT) [2425].

Bacopa had memory- and learning-enhancing effects on long-term dosing in patients with anxiety neurosis (DB-RCT) [21].

Bacopa leaf extracts significantly enhanced the learning and retention of memory in postnatal rats [26, 27].

Bacopa was effective against the scopolamine-induced impairment of spatial memory in mice [28].

Bacopa reversed diazepam-induced amnesia in mice [29].

Mechanism: The anti-amnesic (deficit in memory) effects of Bacopa suggest likely a GABA pathway [30].

5) May Prevent Heart Disease

Bacopa (as a component of Protandim) decreases the abnormal growth of normal cells (hyperplasia) in human saphenous veins which are widely used for bypass grafts [31].

Bacopa extract was able to dissolve clots in experimental organisms, hence could be a promising “thrombolytic agent” [32].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa reduced cholesterol in high cholesterol diet-induced rats [33].

Bacopa is a component of a herbal formulation (DHC-1) which had a protective effect against damaged heart in rats [34].

Bacopa protects the rat heart against ischemia-reperfusion injury [35] and reduced blood pressure in rats [36].

Bacopa (Brahmi) could be an effective antihypertensive and vasodilator in various artery types [36].

Bacopa may provide protection on various biochemical changes and aortic pathology in rats with high cholesterol [20].

Mechanism: Blood pressure reducing activity is partly by releasing Nitric Oxide from the endothelium [36].

6) Protects the Brain

Bacopa is known as an effective “brain food” as it nourishes the brain and improves intelligence and memory [37].

An oil prepared with Bacopa is used for habitual headaches in humans [38].

Bacopa inhibits acetylcholinesterase and activates choline acetyltransferase, which increases acetylcholine [39]. Bacopa also increased blood flow to the brain in humans and rats [3940].

Bacopa (Bacosides) is effective against age-related chronic neuroinflammation in the rat brain [41].

Bacopa (Bacosides) significantly reduced the age-dependent elevation of pro-inflammatory cytokines, iNOS protein expression, total nitrite and lipofuscin content in aged rat brain cortex [41].

Constituents present in Bacopa extract had neuronal dendritic growth stimulating properties in adult rats [42, 43].

Bacopa protected neurons from beta-amyloid-induced cell death in primary cortical cultures [44].

Bacopa was effective in reversing the aluminum mediated oxidative damage in the cerebellum of aged rats [45, 46].

Bacopa has a protective effect on methylmercury-induced oxidative stress in the cerebellum of rats [47].

Bacopa (Bacosides) aids in the repair of damaged neurons [48].

Bacopa exerts a protective effect against DNA damage in astrocytes (a star-shaped glial cell of the CNS) [48].

Mechanism: Bacopa enhanced protein kinase activity and increased protein in the hippocampus of humans [14].

7-9) May Help Neurodegenerative Conditions: Huntington’s, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s

Bacopa is said to be a promising anti-Huntington neuroprotective agent [49].

Bacopa is a potential anti-Parkinsonian agent (reduces alpha-synuclein aggregation, prevents dopaminergic neurodegeneration and restores the lipid content in nematodes) [50].

Bacopa can protect cells by modulating cellular redox pathways which are altered in Parkinsons Disease (PD) [51].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa might be helpful in reducing 6-OHDA (6-HydroxyDopamine) induced lesioning in Parkinsonian rat models [52].

Bacopa is a potential cognitive enhancer and neuroprotectant against Alzheimer’s disease animal model [53].

Bacopa extract reduces beta-amyloid deposits in the brain of an Alzheimer’s disease animal model [54].

10-11) Improves ADHD and Dyslexia

Bacopa as part of a compound herbal preparation is effective in improving attention, cognition and impulse control in children with ADHD [55].

Standardized extract of Bacopa was found to be effective in reducing the symptoms of ADHD and was well-tolerated by the children [56].

Bacopa is effective in the management of Dyslexia (reading disorder) in children [57].

12) May Help Cognitive Decline in Schizophrenia

Bacopa (Brahmi) might be a novel therapeutic agent for the cognitive deficit treatment for schizophrenia in rat models [58].

Mechanism: Bacopa has the ability to reduce Nitric Oxide-induced cellular alterations in neurological disorders [48].

Bacopa enhances kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, restoration of synaptic activity and nerve impulse transmission [48].

13) For Bronchitis/Asthma

A hot soft moist mass of Bacopa is applied for Bronchitis and chest ailments in children [59].

14) Balances The Immune System

Bacopa (BacoMind) protects human lymphocytes against various agents which damage DNA [60].

Bacopa diet stimulated more secretion of IgA and IgG in the blood of rats compared to Echinacea or Ashwagandha [61].

Bacopa slightly suppressed splenocyte proliferation and decreased T-Lymphocyte proliferation in rats [62].

Bacopa is effective in managing diseases involving chronic brain inflammation driven by the innate immune system [63].

Bacopa is used to treat enlargement of the spleen [64].

Bacopa (Brahmi) reversed the age-related increase in lipid peroxidation in the spleen cells of both early-middle-aged and old rats [65].

15) Anti-Diabetic

In India, some tribes (Orissa region) use the decoction of aerial parts for the treatment of Diabetes [66].

Bacopa (Bacosine) had insulin-like activity (lowered blood glucose) in alloxan-induced diabetic rats [67].

Bacopa (Bacosine) reversed the weight loss in diabetic rats, returning the values to near normal [68].

Bacopa (Bacosine) increased glycogen content in the liver of diabetic rats and glucose utilization in the diaphragm of diabetic rats [68].

16) Antimicrobial

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa had antifungal activity against Candida albicans and Aspergillus niger (black mold) [69].

Bacopa is used to treat Tuberculosis [70] and Syphilis [70].

Bacopa showed antimicrobial activity against Vibrio cholera [71].

Bacopa showed anti-Helicobacter pylori (a bacterium associated with chronic gastric ulcers) activity [72].

Alcoholic leaf extract of Bacopa exhibited antibacterial activity against Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumonia and E.coli [59].

Alcoholic (diethyl ether) extract of Bacopa had a maximum inhibitory effect against Staphylococcus aureus and Proteus vulgaris [69].

Bacopa has a broad spectrum of antibacterial activity against other bacteria like Bacillus subtilis, Bacillus cereus, Salmonella typhi and Proteus vulgaris [73].

Bacopa leaf extract along with Azadirachta seeds showed antibacterial activity against Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the causative organism of Typhoid fever [74].

Bacopa plant extract is taken to treat gonorrhea [75].

17) May Help Prevent Cancer

Oral administration of an alcoholic extract of Bacopa slowed the development of solid tumors [76].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa induced cell death by apoptosis in mice cancer cell lines [77].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa (dammarane triterpene saponins) showed antitumor activity in human breast cancer cell lines [78].

Bacopa may be a possible chemoprotective agent against colon cancer [79].

Bacopa (Bacoside A) is effective in preventing N-nitrosodiethylamine (DEN) induced liver cancer and may play a role in preventing this cancer [80].

Bacopa can protect human brain cancer (neuroblastoma) cells against H2O2 and acrolein [81].

Water extract of Bacopa was able to induce apoptosis in mouse breast cancer cells [82] and in Walker cancer cell lines [83].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa whole plant was active against human breast cancer cell lines [83].

Bacopa extract helped prevent cancer in a mouse model of skin cancer [84].

Bacopa (Stigmasterol) had a protective effect against Ehrlich Ascites Carcinoma in mice [85].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa has anti-tumor activity against Daltons Lymphoma Ascites (DLA) [86].

Bacopa extract promotes the antioxidant status, reduces the rate of lipid peroxidation and the markers of tumor progression in the fibrosarcoma bearing rats [87].

Bacopa inhibited the proliferation of cells in human carcinoma of the larynx [83].

Mechanism: Bacopa may be effective against DLA due to its radiomimetic, nucleotoxic and cytotoxic effect. It also inhibits cell division [86].

Studies also suggest Bacopa’s ability to prevent cancer is by preventing DNA replication of cancer cell lines [88].

Bacopa (cucurbitacins) has anti-tumorigenic activity by inducing cell cycle arrest at the G2/M phase and formation of multiplied cells [89].

18) Promotes Longevity

Bacopa prevents the formation of malondialdehyde and lipofuscin, which are the indicators of aging [90].

The imbalance between oxidants and antioxidants during aging can be minimized by Bacopa [2].

Bacopa promoted longevity in worms [91].

19) Helps Protect the Gut

Bacopa leaf juice is given to children for diarrhea relief. [38]

Bacopa is effective in treating patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). [71]

Bacopa showed significant anti-ulcer and ulcer-healing activities in normal and Type-2 diabetic rats. [92]

Fresh juice of Bacopa was earlier reported to have anti-ulcer properties. [93]

Bacopa is effective in treating constipation and stomach disorders. [94]

Mechanism: Bacopa extract may protect the gut due to its predominant effect on mucosal defensive factors. [93]

20) Has an Antifatigue effect

Bacopa extract (Bacoside) improves various impairments associated with physical fatigue in rats [95].

21) Is a Mild Sedative

Bacopa has a mild sedative property [96].

Bacopa plant has been studied for its sedative effect in dogs and frogs [86].

22) May Help Protect the Liver

Bacopa was protective against Tylenol induced liver damage in rats and increased the activity of the antioxidants catalase and glutathione in this model of liver damage [97].

It significantly inhibited Alkaline Phosphatase (a marker of liver damage) and bilirubin levels in rats [97].

Alcoholic extract of Bacopa also exerted a liver protective effect against morphine [98], Nitrobenzene [99], N-Nitrosodiethylamine [99] and “ferrous sulfate cumene hydroperoxide” [2] induced liver injury in rats.

23) May Help With Muscle Growth

Bacopa (Ecdysterone) has a muscle growth promoting effect on mice, rats, and pigs [100].

Bacopa extract prevented smooth muscle spasms in rabbits and guinea pigs by inhibiting calcium influx (via both voltage and receptor-operated calcium channels of the cell membrane) [101].

24) Promotes Hair Growth

Bacopa (leaves) is a component of a Herbal oil which showed excellent hair growth activity [102].

Bacopa (as a component of a herbal formulation) also significantly decreased hair loss in animals [103].

Alcoholic extracts of Bacopa, Emblica officinalis, and Cyperus rotundus are useful in treating “Indralupta” (hair loss) in rats [104].

Mechanism: Bacopa promotes hair growth by an enlargement of follicular size and prolongation of the anagen phase [102].

25) Relieves Pain and Fever

Bacopa is also an effective anti-pain agent in mice and rats [105] and also reduces fever [59].

The whole plant of Bacopa (50-100 grams) boiled in coconut oil and applied on the knees helps with pain relief [106].

26-28) Helps With Histamine Intolerance, Respiratory Problems, and Allergies

Bacopa is an effective mast cell stabilizer, which can be useful for histamine intolerance and allergic conditions [107].

Bacopa is traditionally used to treat Asthma [108].

Bacopa produced significant inhibition of carbachol-induced lung constriction in rats [109].

Mechanism: Bacopa possess Broncho-vasodilatory activity, which is attributed mainly to the inhibition of calcium ions [109]. Bronchodilatory property shown by Bacopa extract is reflected by a reduction in exhaling pressure [110].

29) Protects Against Cigarette Smoke Damage

Bacopa (Bacoside A) has a protective effect against chronic smoking-induced toxicity and can protect the brain from the toxic effects of cigarette smoking in rats [111].

Bacopa extract upgrades various impairments associated with neuronal and physiological changes in rats exposed to smoke from fireworks [112].

30) Protects the Kidney and is a Diuretic

Bacopa is used as a diuretic (increases urine flow) [108].

Bacopa extract exerted protection against morphine-induced kidney toxicity in rats [113].

31) Good For Skin Health

Bacopa (Brahmi) is traditionally used in the treatment of blisters, itching and skin diseases [114].

Bacopa (Bacoside A) was found to enhance wound healing of the skin in rats [115].

Bacopa is used to treat Leprosy and eczema [64].

Bacopa is also used to treat ringworm (a skin infection caused by a fungus) [64].

The wound healing activity of Bacopa (Bacoside A) was more effective in various wound models compared to the standard skin ointment Nitrofurazone (in rats) [116].

32) May Reduce Morphine Dependence

Bacopa (Bacoside) has potential benefits in the treatment of Morphine Dependence in mice  [117].

Bacopa extract may be useful in reducing the withdrawal symptoms induced by morphine in guinea pigs [118].

33) Increases Thyroid Hormones

Bacopa increased Thyroid hormone (T4) levels in male mice with Hypothyroidism [119].

34-35) Reduces Age-related Problems in Women

Bacopa extract reduced insomnia (habitual sleeplessness/inability to sleep) in postmenopausal women [20].

Bacopa may reduce cholesterol and triglycerides in postmenopausal women [20].

Bacopa significantly reduced Blood pressure and may help in reducing the risk of Cardiovascular Disease in postmenopausal women [20].

The fresh whole plant of Bacopa is crushed and juice is taken along with cows milk for treating irregular menstrual cycles [120].

36) Effective for Snake Bite

Fresh root decoction of Bacopa has traditionally been used as an antidote for snake-bites and scorpion stings [121].

Bacopa powder (except the root portion) about 1 teaspoonful is given (with warm goat milk or black tea) as an antidote for snake bite [122] about 30 ml infusion is administered orally as an antidote for Cobra bite [122].

37) Prevents Convulsions and Epilepsy

Bacopa is a component of “Mentat” syrup which is used to treat children with febrile convulsions [96].

Bacopa is the most preferred plant for the treatment of epilepsy by some tribes in the sub-Himalayan region in India [12348].

Bacopa as part of an Ayurvedic herbal combination(Brahmighritham+ ghee) is effective for the control of epilepsy in male rats [124].

Bacopa had a protective effect on cognitive damage that occurs with pilocarpine-induced epilepsy in rats [125] and reversed the depressive behavior pattern associated with pilocarpine [126].

Bacopa (Bacoside-A) treatment prevents the occurrence of seizures [127] and reversed epilepsy associated changes in rats [128].

Bacopa had a potential protective effect on cognitive deficit associated with PHT (Phenytoin) therapy in mice [129].

Bacopa SynergiesBacopa (Brahmi) and deprenyl together can protect the nervous system [130].

Bacopa in combination with Gingko Biloba extract has shown improved anti-cholinesterase and anti-dementia activities in scopolamine-induced amnestic mice [131].

Extract of Bacopa and rosemary is more neuroprotective than each of the extracts individually [132].

Curcumin and Bacopa combined showed additive effects on antioxidant activity with a trend toward synergistic effects [133].

Bacopa Side Effects, Cautions, and Toxicity

Bacopa (Brahmi) treatment inhibited fertility and caused a suppression of sperm creation that was reversible –without producing toxic effects in male mice [134].

Bacopa was found to be safe and well tolerated by normal healthy male human volunteers in a single dose (20-300 mg) and multiple doses (100 and 200 mg) [14].

No-observed adverse effect level of 500 mg/kg body weight was established in rats [135].

Bacopa administration might cause a mild stomach upset [136137].

Active Chemical Constituents

Steroidal saponins and Bacosides A and B are the active chemical constituents responsible for improving both learning and memory [138].

Other constituents include Bacopa saponins D, E, and F as well as alkaloids, flavonoids, phytosterols [138] and steroids [1].

Molecular Targets

Neuroprotective activity

Anti-Oxidant activity

  • Increases Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) [5].
  • Increases Catalase (CAT) [5].
  • Increases Glutathione peroxidase (GPx) [5].
  • Increases Glutathione (GSH) [5].

Anti-cancer activity

  • Activates Protein phosphatase 2A [85].
  • Activates Caspase-3 [82].
  • Decreases Bcl-2 gene expression [82].

Bacopa Dosage

Several studies used a dosage of 300-450 mg extract/day [22, 140].

Daily doses of Bacopa are 5-10 grams of non-standardized powder, 8-16 ml of infusion and 30 ml daily of syrup [71]. Dosages of a 1:2 fluid extract are 5-12 ml per day for adults and 2.5-6 ml per day for children ages 6-12 [71].

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