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Benefits of Bacopa: Is It Right for Me?

February 14, 2022

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For many years, India and other southeastern Asian countries have used herbs for well-being and a healthy lifestyle. People from these countries often use traditional medical customs that adapt to alternative methods for healing their bodies. The benefits of bacopa encompass learning, memory, cognitive performance and stress resistance. We’ll learn more about those below.

What is bacopa? What are the benefits of using bacopa as a part of a daily supplementation regimen? What is the ideal daily dosage of bacopa and what are some use cases of bacopa? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.

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What is Bacopa?

“Life has got all those twists and turns. You’ve got to hold on tight, and off you go.”
––Nicole Kidman

India is known for holistic health practices, and bacopa monnieri is one supplement that epitomizes this characteristic. Children in Indian villages are still fed bacopa monnieri to improve their cognitive abilities, and it isn’t only due to folklore. The benefits of bacopa are manifold as we will see below.

Bacopa monnieri, more commonly named bacopa, is a perennial, creeping aquatic herb originally from India and other southeastern Asian countries. bacopa, also known as “water hyssop,” is also referred to as “Brahmi” as a reference to the supreme God Brahma. 

The herb has been used by these countries as a part of their traditional medical customs. It has also been shown to help with the improved functioning of vital organs in the body. 

Scientists have studied bacopa monnieri extensively, and even the most rigorous meta-analysis shows significant memory-enhancing effects on adults [1]. Bacopa is considered an adaptogen, which helps to reduce the amount and impact of stress and anxiety in the body. This translates to higher cognitive performance and learning ability.

The benefits of bacopa monnieri are manifold and well-studied. While there is no such thing as a magic pill, bacopa monnieri impacts many beneficial aspects of the brain. 

Bacopa’s active bacosides – the active compounds in bacopa monnieri – are antioxidants that enhance other brain antioxidants, including superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx) [2]. This synergistic antioxidant activity helps protect brain cells from the age-accelerating effects of free radicals. Bacosides also promote acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin – all brain chemicals tied to focussed thinking, clear memory, and healthy mood.


Benefits of Bacopa

“You’ve got to get up every morning with determination if you’re going to go to bed with satisfaction.”
– George Lorimer

Bacopa offers many benefits with regards to your brain health, cognitive performance, memory and learning speed, improving the functioning of your thyroid gland, relieving stress and anxiety from your body, lowering blood pressure, minimizing the risk of heart disease, acting as an anti-cancer agent, serving as an antidepressant, relieving pain from your body and improving hand-eye coordination. 

Memory Enhancement

Bacopa has strong ties to memory performance and a long association with new learning and retention [3]. Human research shows it may slow the rate of forgetting newly acquired knowledge, which is one of the great benefits of bacopa [4]. Researchers have also suggested it accelerates mental processing, optimizes cognition under stress, and promotes relaxation.

Memory enhancement, however, is the most well-known benefit of bacopa monnieri. Many studies suggest the memory improvements take up to 12 weeks before taking full effect, but when they do, the results are significant [3], as you can see below from data from placebo-controlled studies published in the Journal of alternative and complementary medicine [4].

Remarkably, the benefits of bacopa when it comes to delayed memory. As a refresher, delayed memory is the ability to recollect information acquired earlier. It is frequently used in laboratory studies of memory, delayed recall is also used in neuropsychological examinations to determine the rate of loss of information presented earlier, in comparison to established norms.

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Enhances Learning Speed

Studies have shown that supplementing with bacopa monnieri leaf extract was very effective at enhancing spatial memory as well as learning speed [5, 6].

Yet, little is known about the mechanism of action that produces these effects. It is assumed, the learning effect that bacopa enhances is linked with the memory increase or better said, the lower rate of forgetting we discussed above.

Interestingly, the learning effect seems to take about 12 weeks to materialize as well, similarly to the memory effect discussed above. This suggests that long term supplementation of bacopa might be extremely beneficial.

Further, it appears that bacopa benefits when it comes to learning in particular are increased by combining supplementation with a ginkgo biloba leaf extract. For example, a 6 week study of the administration of 300mg bacopa extract on medical students, saw a statistically significant improvement in tests related to cognitive function [7].

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Improves Brain Function

Bacopa has been shown to improve cognitive functioning in your brain. Other benefits of bacopa include slower deterioration of brain cells, may reduce the risk of neurodegenerative disorders and diseases, assists with DNA, demonstrates powerful nootropic activities in your brain, and helps your mitochondria for any cell in your body to take nutrients and use them to produce energy for your brain and body. Bacopa is also an anti-inflammatory that has been shown in studies like Frontiers in Pharmacology to reduce inflammatory cytokines and iNOS production in the brain [7]. 

Improves Thyroid Gland Functioning

The bacopa monnieri leaf extract has the potential to reverse the function of the thyroid gland in order to regulate hormone levels. People who want alternative methods to health and well-being are embracing the plant as a way of improving their thyroid gland and overall health. 

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Relieves Stress and Anxiety

Researchers in Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior assert that bacopa monnieri may be beneficial in the prevention of anxiety and stress. It is classified as an adaptogenic plant, which means that it strengthens the body’s resilience to stress [8].

According to research in Phytotherapy, bacopa monnieri aids in the reduction of stress and anxiety by increasing mood and decreasing cortisol levels. This hormone is intimately connected to stress levels [9]. Bacopa monnieri demonstrated anti-anxiety effects equivalent to those of lorazepam (benzodiazepine), a prescription medicine used to treat anxiety, according to research published in Phytomedicine [10].

Further, research in Alternative and Complementary Medicine and Psychopharmacology experiments on two 12-week human trials discovered that consuming 300 mg of bacopa monnieri daily dramatically decreased anxiety and depression levels in adults compared to a placebo [11, 12].

Human studies in Advances in Mind-Body Medicine also indicate that it may aid in the enhancement of brain function, the treatment of ADHD symptoms, and the reduction of stress and anxiety [19]. 

Additional large-scale human research is needed to prove its anti-stress and anti-anxiety properties, further.

Lowers Blood Pressure

Bacopa has been shown to lower your blood pressure rating. The herb releases nitric oxide, which helps to dilate your blood vessels, resulting in improved blood flow and a lowered blood pressure rating. It has been shown in animal studies that bacopa has the ability to lower the diastolic and systolic pressure rates in your body. 

Hypertension is a major health problem because it puts a burden on the heart and blood vessels. Researchers in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology found that this can deteriorate the health of your heart and raise your chance of developing heart disease [13].

According to research, bacopa monnieri may help maintain a healthy blood pressure range.

Bacopa monnieri was found in one animal research in Ethnopharmacology to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. This was accomplished by releasing nitric oxide, which aids in the dilation of blood vessels, resulting in increased blood flow and decreased blood pressure [16].

Minimizes the Risk of Heart Disease

Bacopa is known to produce more Nitrogen Monoxide than any other known substance. This oxide helps to open your blood vessels, allowing blood to flow through more accessible to your heart and other vital organs in your body. As your heart receives the needed blood to function at a normal rate, it minimizes the risk of having illnesses like heart disease. 

Acts as an Anti-Cancer Agent

Bacopa is known as an agent that produces anti-cancer pathways by increasing protein phosphatase 2A and caspase three and decreasing Bcl-2 gene production. 

According to research in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience, bacosides, the active ingredient in bacopa monnieri, have been demonstrated in test-tube tests to kill aggressive brain tumor cells and prevent the development of breast and colon cancer cells [17].

Another research in Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience found that bacopa monnieri’s cancer-fighting abilities may be attributed to its high antioxidant content and substances such as bacosides [10]. Bear in mind that these findings are based on in vitro and animal investigations. Bacopa monnieri cannot be suggested as a therapy until further human research on the herb and cancer is conducted.

Anti-Depressant

Bacopa is an antioxidant that has been shown in studies to have the ability to change the chemistry of your brain. The herb has shown similar antidepressant abilities to qualities shown in the conventional over-the-counter drug Imipramine. 

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Relieves Pain

Bacopa has had preliminary research done and been shown to have the ability to provide pain management in your body. As an anti-inflammatory, the herb inhibits the Cox 2 receptors, which are similar to the performance of the NSAIDs or non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs.

Improves Hand-Eye Coordination

Bacopa extracts have been shown in a study in Pharmacology and Toxicology to improve memory and hand-eye coordination [18].

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Ideal Dosage of Bacopa

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”
―Napoleon Hill

There are many different ways to take bacopa. It comes as a supplement in capsule form. In raw powder form to be used in teas or as a pre-made syrup that contains a high concentration of bacopa. It is recommended that your ideal dosage for taking bacopa is between 300 to 500 milligrams per day. Beware of taking too much. Some of the side effects from taking too much include: upset stomach, diarrhea, frequent bowel movement, and nausea.

Further, when taking bacopa one needs to be aware of the concentration and profile of the beneficial bacosides (the active ingredients). 

The concentration refers to the relative amount of total bacosides in the extract. For example, Marco’s Grounds organic bacopa leaf extract contains 50% of bacosides by weight. Most extracts in the market have between 20% and 30% concentration, since higher extraction rates require more complex procedures.

The profile refers to the ratio of bacosides A and bacosides B. Since bacosides A are the ones responsible for the benefits of bacopa [20], it is beneficial to choose an extract with a higher ratio of bacosides A to bacosies B like in MAXIMUM MIND. Organic extracts are superior in this aspect as pesticides seem to destroy bacosides A.

When starting a new supplement, it is always best to start with a lower dosage to help prevent any side effects such as nausea or diarrhea.

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Who Benefits from Bacopa

“A champion is afraid of losing. Everyone else is afraid of winning.”
―Billie Jean King

Bacopa main benefits are memory and learning as well as its anxiolytic and calming effect. 

Some of the best use cases to make the most out of the benefits of bacopa are for people who need to absorb and retain vast amounts of information and be able to recall it as fast as possible while staying calm and balanced. Simply said, people who want the calm mood to be performing under stress and be able to ingest and comprehend high amounts of information.

To name a few examples of occupations that would benefit from incorporating bacopa in their  supplementation strategy:

  • Entrepreneurs as creativity is linked with working memory
  • Lawyers who want to remember details of law acts for longer periods 
  • Poker players who want to manage their emotions and remember the cards that have been played
  • Chess players who want to better remember and visualize their strategy 
  • Students who want to stay composed under stress while taking tests or learning for them
  • Musicians who want to absorb a vast amount of musical information
 
The list is broad and these are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to people who can benefit from bacopa. All in all, bacopa is beneficial for people who have information to learn and retain while stakes are high and can benefit from the calming and relaxing effects of bacopa coupled with the increased learning. 

Ideally, you’d start a bacopa regiment about 12 to 16 weeks before the event you want to be on your A-game for as it takes some time for bacopa to load in your system. Bacopa can also be taken all year as an “insurance policy” as long as it is cycled like for MAXIMUM MIND clients.

Conclusion

Every great cause is born from repeated failures and from imperfect achievements.”
Maria Montessori

Bacopa monnieri is a traditional Ayurvedic herb found in MAXIMUM MIND. It’s most notably known for its memory enhancing properties as well as its ability to increase learning speed. Less known are its very useful anxiolytic benefits that can be noticeably useful for people who need to perform at their best while staying calm and relaxed.

Further benefits of bacopa include healthy heart and thyroid glands, better hand-eye coordination, relieving pain, aiding in combating depression. All of these properties together make bacopa a great supplement to incorporate in anyone’s regiment for good health and performance.

Why not experience the benefits of bacopa in their purest form along with other clinically studied compounds for increasing brain performance and health with MAXIMUM MIND?

Read more about bacopa on the Marco’s Grounds Deep Dive.

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MAXIMUM MIND

Clinically Studied

Pharmaceutical Grade Cognitive and Mind Enhancing Complex
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Literature

  1. Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 18(7), 647–652.
  2. Aguiar, S., & Borowski, T. (2013). Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation research, 16(4), 313-326.
  3. Raghav, S., Singh, H., Dalal, P. K., Srivastava, J. S., & Asthana, O. P. (2006). Randomized controlled trial of standardized Bacopa monniera extract in age-associated memory impairment. Indian journal of psychiatry, 48(4), 238–242.
  4. Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.), 14(6), 707–713.
  5. Vollala, V. R., Upadhya, S., & Nayak, S. (2010). Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn.(brahmi) extract on learning and memory in rats: A behavioral study. Journal of veterinary behavior, 5(2), 69-74.
  6. Vollala, V. R., Upadhya, S., & Nayak, S. (2011). Learning and memory-enhancing effect of Bacopa monniera in neonatal rats. Bratislavske lekarske listy, 112(12), 663-669.
  7. Kumar, N., Abichandani, L. G., Thawani, V., Gharpure, K. J., Naidu, M. U., & Venkat Ramana, G. (2016). Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM2016, 4103423.
  8. Kure, C., Timmer, J., & Stough, C. (2017). The Immunomodulatory Effects of Plant Extracts and Plant Secondary Metabolites on Chronic Neuroinflammation and Cognitive Aging: A Mechanistic and Empirical Review. Frontiers in Pharmacology 
  9. Rai, D., Bhatia, G., Palit, G., Pal, R., Singh, S., & Singh, H. K. (2003). Adaptogenic effect of Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi). Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 75(4), 823–830. 
  10. Benson, S., Downey, L. A., Stough, C., Wetherell, M., Zangara, A., & Scholey, A. (2013). An Acute, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Cross-over Study of 320 mg and 640 mg Doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on Multitasking Stress Reactivity and Mood. Phytotherapy Research, 28(4), 551–559.
  11. Bhattacharya, S., & Ghosal, S. (1998). Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa Monniera: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 5(2), 77–82. 
  12. Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(6), 707–713. 
  13. C., S., P., N., J., L., J., C., C., H., L., D., & T., R. (2001). The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa Monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology, 156(4), 481–484. 
  14. Kokubo, Y., & Matsumoto, C. (2016). Hypertension Is a Risk Factor for Several Types of Heart Disease: Review of Prospective Studies. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 419–426. 
  15. Kamkaew, N., Scholfield, C. N., Ingkaninan, K., Maneesai, P., Parkington, H. C., Tare, M., & Chootip, K. (2011). Bacopa monnieri and its constituents are hypotensive in anesthetized rats and vasodilators in various artery types. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 137(1), 790–795.
  16. John, S. (2017). Bacoside A Induces Tumor Cell Death in Human Glioblastoma Cell Lines through Catastrophic Macropinocytosis. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.
  17. John, S. (2017). Bacoside A Induces Tumor Cell Death in Human Glioblastoma Cell Lines through Catastrophic Macropinocytosis. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience. 
  18. Barbhaiya, H. C., Desai, R. P., Saxena, V. S., Pravina, K., Wasim, P., Geetharani, P., Allan, J. J., Venkateshw, K., & Amit, A. (2008). Efficacy and Tolerability of BacoMind®on Memory Improvement in Elderly Participants – A Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study. Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 3(6), 425–434.
  19. Dave UP, Dingankar SR, Saxena VS, Joseph JA, Bethapudi B, Agarwal A, Kudiganti V. 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. PMID: 24682000.
  20. Majumdar S., Basu A., Paul P., Halder M., Jha S. (2013) Bacosides and Neuroprotection. In: Ramawat K., Mérillon JM. (eds) Natural Products. Springer, Berlin, Heidelberg.

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