Key Indications: memory & focus, brain Health and thyroid
Bacopa Monniera is a small plant that grows in moist, damp areas throughout Asia and has been widely used in Ayurvedic medicine at least as far back as the 6th century. One of its common names is water hyssop and the whole plant is used medicinally. As with most herbs it has many uses. Most common include increasing cognitive ability, memory, nerve tonic, cardiotonic, diuretic, in asthma, bronchitis, mental imbalances, depression, anxiety, and epilepsy. It contains over a dozen active constituents, the most well-known being luteolin, beta- sitosterol, and d-mannitol. The constituents responsible for Bacopa’s cognitive effects are bacosides A and B (1).
One double blinded human study (2) showed it to significantly improve learning and memory while also decreasing anxiety. A similar study in seniors observed that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily significantly improved the speed of processing visual information, learning rate, and memory, compared with the placebo treatment (3). A third study on 54 seniors showed in- creased memory and decreased anxiety and depression compared to placebo (4). Another study elicited a similar reaction to lorazepam (5).
It also can act as a strong antioxidant (6) especially in the antioxidant activity in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and striatum (7). Bacopa aids in the repair of damaged neurons (8)
A double blinded study done on 36 children with ADHD showed improvement in memory as well as paired as- sociate learning tasks. This improvement was maintained at least 4 months following cessation of bacopa (9). Another ADHD study with 31 ADHD children showed Bacopa reduced symptoms such as restlessness, poor self-control, inattention, and impulsivity in 85% of the children (10). In animal studies high doses of Bacopa have raised levels of T4 without affecting T3 levels (11) making it possibly useful in hypothyroidism.
Bacopa has been noted in animal models to decrease the toxicity of morphine, possibly making it useful in patients going off of morphine based medications (12).
There appear to be no contraindications (with the possible exception being it can be contraindicated if taking amitriptyline) and dosages can safely be given at 5-10 grams daily though we typically start at 1-2 caps 3x/day.
No studies have been done on pregnancy and bacopa so we recommend avoidance until studies are conducted.
1. Alternative Medicine Review Volume 9 No. 1 2004
2. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke, J et al The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa Monniera on cognitive function in healthy human subjects Psychopharmacology 156 (4):481
Effects of 12-Week Bacopa monnieri Consumption on Attention, Cognitive Processing, Working Memory, and Functions of Both Cholinergic and Monoaminergic Systems in Healthy Elderly Volunteers Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
2012;2012:606424. doi: 10.1155/2012/606424. Epub 2012 Dec 18.4.
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): 707–713
5 Bhattacharya, SK, Battacharya A et al Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa Monniera. An experimental study. Phytomedicine 5 (2):77
6 Tripathi YB, Tripathi E, et al Bacopa monneira as an anti-oxidant: mechanism of action. Indian Jopurnal of Experimental Biology 34 (6): 523
7 Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Antioxidant activity of Bacopa monniera in rat frontal cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. Phytother Res 2000;14:174-179.
8 Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi). Indian J Pharmacol 1997;29:S359-S365.
9 Negi KS, Singh YD, Kushwaha KP, et al. Clinical evaluation of memory enhancing properties of Memory Plus in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Ind J Psychiatry 2000;42:Supplement
An open-label study to elucidate the effects of standardized Bacopa monnieri extract in the management of symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children Adv Mind Body Med 2014 Spring;28(2):10-5.
11 Kar A, Panda S, Bharti S. Relative efficacy of three medicinal plant extracts in the alteration of thyroid hormone concentrations in male mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2002;81:281-285.
12 Vohora D, Pal SN, Pillai KK. Protection from phenytoin-induced cognitive deficit by Bacopa monniera, a reputed Indian nootropic plant. J Ethnopharmacol 2000;71:383-390.