Who would know your fish tank may include such a beneficial food! Found as an aquatic plant in many pet shops, B. monnieri is a medicinal plant, often available in pill form (see choices below). Bacopa is a great neurotonic, immuno-modulator, adaptogen, tranquilizing, memory and learning enhancing, cerebral activator, anti-ulcer, antispasmodic, anti-asthmatic ayurvedic herb. Other benefits are anti-allergic, free radicals scavenging effect and as herbal supplement in Epilepsy, anxiety and depression.
Know its beneficial actions on brain, memory, mental deficiency, Alzheimer's disease, learning skills, anxiety, depression, stress , epilepsy and ADHD children.
Use Bacopa For:
Aid In Learning Skills
Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Children with ADHD
Antioxidant protection (e.g. of prostate)
Although widely available in pill form, extraction methods recover less than 20 to 30% of the active compounds of the natural plant! Some sources have the name as Bacopa monniera.
Bacopa Effects On Brain Functions
Five major saponins are the apparent active agents in Bacopa, i.e. bacoside A3, bacopaside II, bacopasaponin C isomer, bacopasaponin C and bacopaside I.
In a double blind randomized placebo controlled research study in Australia, at University of Wollongong, this ayurvedic botanical was found to be effective in tests for retention of new information.
In another similar study mentioned in Neuropsychopharmacology (Aug.2002), its effects were documented for several weeks and various memory functions were tested with levels of anxiety. The study revealed the same - B. monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting of newly acquired information, verbal learning rate and memory consolidation.
In yet another study, the chronic (3 weeks to 12 weeks) administration of B. monnieri showed significant improvement in speed of visual information processing by IT task, learning rate and memory consolidation as compared to placebo. There was improvement in higher order cognitive functions that depend on memory, learning and environmental factors.
On first use, a change in the clarity of spatial perception is noticed by some people. Colour and three dimensional depth appear enhanced, so creating a greater impact on the memory centres of the brain.
However the single dose of this medicinal herb doesn't show any improvement in cognitive or memory functions. The dosage in the above two studies was 300 mg of B. monnieri extracts daily.
Triterpenoid saponins and Bacosides of B. monnieri play key role for enhancing nerve impulse transmission. Bacosides support the repair of damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, restoration and regeneration of synaptic activity resulting in nerve impulse transmission. These effects make it a wonderful nerve tonic or nerve nourishing agent as against the neuroleptic drugs that modulate the behavior.
In a study on this its effects on children, it showed significant improvement in exploratory drive, improved perceptual image of patterns and increased perceptual organization and reasoning ability.
During International Brain Research Conference in Australia 1996, CDRI scientists presented that B. monnieri reduced the time to learn specific task to six days while the control group took ten days to learn the same task.
Bacopa In Mild To Moderate Mental Deficiency
B. monnieri was tested on men with mild to moderate mental deficiency. 172 persons received B. monnieri 500 mg of extract thrice a day while 114 persons received placebo for one year. At the end of study, there was improvement in concentration ability, memory span, and overall mental performance in individuals taking the extract as compared with placebo group.
There was improvement in the performance of school children with poor educational performance.
Alzheimer's Disease And Bacopa:
Loss of cholinergic activity in hippocampus was the primary cause of Alzheimer's disease. B. monnieri showed important antioxidant activity in many brain parts like hippocampus, striatum and frontal cortex. Further studies showed its protective effect against DNA damage in astrocytes and fibroblast cells. All this suggest its important role in Alzheimer's and at least it could be useful in checking the progression of this disease to some extent.
Bacopa In Epilepsy
Despite its mention as anti-epilepsy role it was found to exert this effect only on very high doses over long periods. The dose near LD50 showed effect against seizures. Research in India found hersaponin to exert some anticonvulsant effect. So it could better be used as an adjuvant in treatment of Epilepsy.
Anti-epilepsy drugs as Phenytoin have some side effects as cognitive impairment. Simultaneous administration of this botanical with phenytoin improved acquisition and retention of memory. B. monnieri extracts have corrective effect on phenytoin induced cognitive deficit.
Bacopa Improving Learning Skills
In this research trial, the animals were trained in T maze. One group wasn't given any medicine, second group was given Diazepam and third, fourth and fifth group received this ayurvedic herb. After 10 days there was comparable memory and learning enhancement in the group treated with B. monnieri. Biochemical studies found the Serotonin content of B. monnieri groups to be more compared to control group and the other group.
All the anti-depressants - SSRI's, Tricyclic antidepressants and MAO inhibitors produce two effects - the augmentation of the effect of Norepinephrine and Seotonin by blocking their intracellular depletion. It is not clear how B. monnieri produced this effect of increasing Serotonin content. But in future as the understanding of these neurochemicals would grow, B. monnieri might emerge as the standard and natural treatment for anxiety and depression.
Bacopa In Stress
In this study on rats, B. monniera showed the potential to be effective in stress. The response had been better in the group that was pretreated for one week with 20 to 40 mg/kg/daily of it even before exposing to stress.
The level of Hsp70 increases in brain as a response to stress. After giving B. monnieri for seven days, and then giving stress to animals, the Hsp70 was found in lower concentration in animals pretreated with Bacopa.
The two P450 enzymes respond differently to B. monnieri. These two enzymes EROD & PROD levels in pretreated rats were found more even before exposure to stress. Thus B. monnieri primed the brain for stress by stockpiling these useful enzymes even before stressful conditions. Our susceptibility to stress could be lowered by using this medicinal herb.
The SOD interpretation was difficult. Researchers concluded as "B. monnieri helps in coping with combined hypoxic, hypothermic and immobilization stress that could lead to onslaught of free radicals." Thanks to this ayurvedic herb for all such beneficial effects without asking any recognition.
Bacopa For Anxiety
Research on rats as models of clinical anxiety showed the anxiolytic activity of its extracts with 25 percent bacosides as comparable to Lorazepam. Plus there were no side effects of Lorazepam, like amnesia. Rather there was memory enhancing effect.
Another one month study on diagnosed anxiety neurosis patients, with syrup of this medicinal herb equivalent to 12 gm of crude powder, found significant reduction in anxiety symptoms, level of disability and fatigue. There was additional increase in immediate memory, decreased respiratory rate and decreased SBP or systolic blood pressure.
Bacopa For Depression
The B. monnieri extract in the dose of 20 to 40 mg per kg was given once daily for five days and it was found comparable to standard anti-depressant drug Imipramine in anti-depressant activity in rodent animals.
Bacopa Potentiating Barbiturate Action
Epilepsy patients who are taking Barbiturates can benefit from B. monnieri. It may potentiate the effect of Barbiturates so they are needed in lower dosage. Plus there would be relief from other side effects like behavioral abnormalities, diminution of intelligence, impairment of learning and memory, hyperactivity in children and mental confusion in older patients.
Bacopa & ADD Hyperactive Children
Another double blind study at BRD Medical College, at Gorakhpur, India, on children with ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder) showed benefit after 12 weeks of B. monnieri use in sentence repetition, logical memory and paired associated learning tasks. The children were given the test four weeks after the B. monnieri had been withdrawn and it affirms its lasting effect.
GABAergic Action Of Bacopa
Researchers believe that, among its other mechanisms, Bacopa meditates the GABAergic system. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is an inhibitory neurotransmitter that has been shown to possess anticonvulsive, antinociceptive (prevention of pain due to hypersensitive nerve endings), locomotor, and sedative effects.