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Bacopa monnieri, also known as water hyssop, is an herb commonly used in Ayurveda. Studies have shown that supplementing Bacopa can have a beneficial effect on cognition, both by improving memory formation and by reducing anxiety.
Bacopa affects both the dopaminergic and serotonergic systems but works mainly by enhancing the rate at which neurons communicate by increasing the growth of dendrites (nerve endings), thus facilitating communication between brain cells.
Our Bacopa extract is standardized to 20% bacosides (the active ingredient in the Bacopa herb)
When taken as a supplement for general cognition, the typical dose of a 20% Bacopa extract is 1-2 capsules for a dose of 450 – 900 mg. Bacopa should be taken with food, as taking it on an empty stomach increases chances of experiencing adverse gastrointestinal side effects and prevents its absorption.
Bacopa extract is very well tolerated at typical doses and adverse side effects are rare. Most side effects are gastrointestinal in nature and can be avoided by taking Bacopa with food. These include stomach cramps, nausea, bloating, and diarrhea. Other common adverse side effects include dry mouth and fatigue.
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Bacopa monnieri, commonly known as water hyssop or referred to as Brahmi in Sanskrit, is a perennial herb that has been used in the traditional Indian medicine, Ayurveda. It grows naturally in moist and wet places. The entirety of the plant is used in the extraction process. (6) The herb can be found in Southern India, Australia, Europe, and South America. Bacopa is an adaptogen; a class of herb that helps the body adapt to stress and exert a normalizing effect. (1,3)
Bacopa is unregulated in the United States and Canada, meaning it can be legally purchased and consumed without a prescription. In other countries like Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, and Australia, Bacopa is regulated as an ingredient in medicinal preparations. (6)
Other than its stress and anxiety relieving properties, Bacopa is popular in the nootropic’s community for its cognitive enhancement capabilities. In Ayurveda, the herb was thought to help scholars and other individuals to memorize lengthy texts and scriptures. (1,4)
Bacopa’s primary benefits are in its ability to reduce stress and anxiety while enhancing memory. (22,23,24,25) Bacosides work to improve the signaling of electrical impulses between neurons in your brain. At the same time, bacosides help to prevent cell toxicity while rebuilding damaged neurons. (7,10)
Another active component of bacopa, Apigenin, targets GABAᴀ to help reduce stress and anxiety. (8,9,13) Bacopa also helps your brain when under chronic stress. (26) Your brain is protected by:
When under chronic stress, Bacopa is able to regulate levels of Hsp70 in the brain, keeping the brain less susceptible to stress. (26) Bacopa also works by increasing levels of EROD and PROD to help deal with stress as it comes on. (26) Finally, Bacopa improves SOD activity which helps deal with attacks by free radicals. (26)
Other than improving memory and cognition and reducing stress, Bacopa has shown to benefit in the following ways that will be discussed further in “Bacopa Monnieri Research”:
Bacopa can be found as a powder, powdered capsule, or tablet and is frequently found in pre-made stacks. As bacopa is fat soluble, it is most effective when taken with food or a source of fat. This will also help to prevent potential gastrointestinal side-effects.
It is recommended to take Bacopa as a capsule as Bacopa powder has a strong taste that some individuals may not enjoy. Bacopa is found to be most effective when taken for a consecutive period of time. It may take 6 to 8 weeks of consistent supplementation to experience cognitive benefits although anxiolytic benefits may occur in a shorter period of time.
Bacopa Dosage Guidelines
The dosage of Bacopa is dependent upon the percentage of bacosides within the product you’re supplementing with. With an average Bacopa extract with 20% bacosides, the recommended dosage is between 450mg and 900mg. If you have a Bacopa extract that has a higher percentage of bacosides, then you can take a lower dosage and vice versa for a lower percentage of bacosides.
If taking a smaller dosage of Bacopa, taking it once a day in the morning is recommended. If taking larger dosages, it is best to split the dosage between one dose in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Half-life and Duration of Effects
Bacopa monnieri generally takes 15 – 30 minutes to begin to feel effects for anxiolytic benefits. The half-life for these effects is between two to four hours. For cognition, it may take four to eight weeks of consistent supplementation to effects to take place.
Bacopa monnieri is reported to be safe and very well tolerated. An animal study showed that there was no toxicity or biochemical side effects in doses as large as 80mg/kg for eight consecutive weeks, and up to 250mg/kg, of supplementation. (21) A separate study on rats showed no toxicity or side effects at dosages as high as 500mg/kg. (28)
Side effects with Bacopa monnieri are very rare. Most side effects are gastrointestinal related and may include bloating, cramping, increased bowel movements, and diarrhea. Some other side effects include dry mouth or fatigue. One study noted that Bacopa may inhibit fertility and cause a suppression of sperm creation. (27)
Bacopa monnieri interacts with the dopamine and serotonergic systems and also promotes neuronal communication. Bacopa contains several components that have different benefits.
Bacosides are compounds that enhance cognitive functioning and improves memory, via neuroprotective activities, by exerting inhibitory effects on (7,10):
Bacopa has been shown to reduce dopaminergic neuronal death and to protect dopamine receptors from oxidative stress. (16) Dopamine, as a neurotransmitter in the brain, works towards increasing motivation.
Bacopa may have a benefit on memory by increasing Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH₂). (15) TPH₂ is an enzyme that is involved in the synthesis of serotonin; the neurotransmitter that contributes to feelings of well-being and contributes to memory, learning, and cognition. TPH₂ also increases the expression of the serotonin transporter, SERT. (15)
Bacopa also works by enhancing the growth and proliferation of dendrites. (14) Dendrites are branched extensions of nerve cells that allow neural impulses to travel as well as play a critical role in the integration of synaptic inputs.
Reduces Stress (22,23)
Rats were treated with 40mh/kg of Bacopa monnieri and then exposed to either acute stress or chronic stress. Rats exposed to acute stress were put into an immobilized situation for 150 minutes, while rats exposed to chronic stress were put in an immobilized situation for 150 minutes for seven consecutive days.
The rats’ stress was measured by ulcer index, adrenal gland weight, and plasma glucose. In both situations of stress, these measurements were significantly increased in the rats. For the rats who were pre-administered with Bacopa, there was a significant reduction in these areas indicating the potency of Bacopa monnieri as an adaptogen.
One study examined humans in a multitasking framework who were administered either Bacopa or a placebo. There were significantly noted positive mood effects from the baseline and a reduction in cortisol levels. This points to a physiological mechanism for stress reduction when supplementing with Bacopa.
Supports Memory and Cognition (24,25)
A study was conducted using 107 healthy volunteers. These individual’s cognitive performance was measured utilizing the Cognitive Drug Research cognitive assessment prior to Bacopa administration and after 90 days of 300mg of Bacopa administration. 62 were given Bacopa and the remainder were given a placebo.
It was observed that the individuals who were given Bacopa significantly improved their performance on working memory and special working memory accuracy compared to their baseline score prior to Bacopa administration. There was also a decrease in the number of false positives in the rapid visual information processing task for the Bacopa group.
A separate study was conducted aimed at individuals over the age of 55. 98 volunteers participated in a randomized, double-blind trial where they were either given 300mg of Bacopa or a placebo daily. The group who were given Bacopa saw significantly improved verbal learning and memory acquisition.
Improved Blood Flow to the Brain (17)
A rat study was conducted where the rats were administered with 40mg/kg of bacopa for 8 consecutive weeks to determine the effects on cerebral blood flow (CBF). CBF was measured by laser Doppler at the rats’ cerebral cortex.
It was found that administration of Bacopa monnieri increased CBF by 25%. The increase in CBF is speculated to be one of the reasons that Bacopa enhances cognition.
Protects Against Oxidative Stress/Antioxidant (18,21)
Methyl mercury (MeHg) is a bioaccumulative environmental toxicant that poses neurological and developmental risks. A study was conducted on male rats to determine if Bacopa monnieri had MeHg inhibitory actions.
The rats were first administered MeHg at a dose of 5mg/kg for 21 days. Half of the rats were also given 40 mg/kg of Bacopa for 21 days. For the rats who weren’t given Bacopa, the MeHg inhibited several key enzymes, including superoxide dismutase and catalase. In the rats administered Bacopa, these inhibitory actions were prevented.
A separate study looked at Bacopa as a potential antioxidant as oxidative stress has shown to cause neurological complications. Rats who already had neurological complications as a result of oxidative stress were administered 50mg/kg, 125mg/kg, or 250mg/kg of Bacopa. It was observed that the Bacopa increased the activity of antioxidant enzymes suggesting the potential of Bacopa monnieri as an antioxidant.
Promotes Gut Health (19)
In Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa monnieri was thought to have antiulcerogenic activity. To study this, rats with various gastric ulcers were administered between 10mg/kg – 50mg/kg of Bacopa extract, twice daily, for ten days. At further study, it was found that Bacopa increased mucin secretion and decreased cell shedding which is thought to be the mechanism of action behind the antiulcerogenic activity.
Promotes Skin Health (20)
A study was conducted to determine the effectiveness of Bacopa monnieri and its wound healing potentiality. The study was conducted on rats, wounds made via incision, and measured with the wound bed score (WBS).
Post incision, the rats were administered with varying doses of Bacopa daily. When the wounds were observed on the 10th day after incision, the control group had a WBS of 283.3 ± 18.6. The groups that were administered Bacopa had the following WBS:
These scores indicate that Bacopa has the potential to improve skin health by healing wounds more effectively.
Does Bacopa monnieri increase serotonin?
Bacopa may increase production of Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH₂) which is an enzyme responsible for the production of serotonin.
Is Bacopa the same as Brahmi?
Bacopa is referred to as Brahmi in some locations.
Can you take Bacopa at night?
Yes, Bacopa shows no stimulatory attributes so it can be taken at night.
Does Bacopa raise blood pressure?
No, Bacopa may actually show some promise for lowering blood pressure. Bacopa promotes endothelium to release nitric oxide, which causes blood vessel to relax and dilate, and in turn, aids to reduce blood pressure.
Can I grow and extract Bacopa?
Because of the moist climate where Bacopa grows, it would be difficult to grow at home. The extraction process is even more difficult to achieve at home.
Does Bacopa have any negative interactions?
Bacopa interacts negatively with drying medications (anticholinergic drugs).
* These reviews are the experiences of the individual customers that submitted them, results may differ from person to person.
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