Bacopa monnieri is a nootropic herb that has been used in traditional medicine for longevity and cognitive enhancement. Supplementation can improve memory, at least in the short-term, and there may be some mental health benefits.
Bacopa Monnieri is most often used for
Bacopa monnieri, or water hyssop, is a creeping marsh plant commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It is often taken to improve cognitive function and memory, relieve stress and anxiety, and enhance general mood and vitality. Bacopa monnieri likely interacts with the dopamine, serotonin, and cholinergic systems, and it may promote neuronal communication by increasing the growth of dendrites (branches off of neurons). Bacopa monnieri also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Bacopa monnieri may produce a small improvement in memory, but the effect is inconsistent across different tests, scenarios, and populations, making it difficult to ascertain specifically when and for whom it’s most beneficial. A 2014 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials reported that Bacopa monnieri has the potential to improve cognition, especially speed of attention. However, a 2021 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials did not find clinically meaningful differences for any nootropic, neuroprotective, or mood-related outcomes in participants who took Bacopa monnieri compared to participants who did not. The study population included adults with and without memory loss (analyzed separately). Any positive effects that were noted in the included trials were small, and no two trials found significant changes across the same neuropsychological tests. A 2022 systematic review on the use of Bacopa for Alzheimer’s disease also reported no clinically meaningful differences with Bacopa monnieri treatment. Moreover, many of the trials that do report cognitive benefits from Bacopa monnieri fail to adjust for multiple comparisons despite measuring a number of different outcomes, and the cognitive tests that are used are not always appropriate for the population being studied.
There is some preliminary research suggesting that Bacopa monnieri could have antidepressant and anxiolytic effects, possibly by reducing cortisol secretion and the depletion of dopamine and serotonin during chronic stress, but more research is needed to confirm this effect.
Overall, the evidence for Bacopa monnieri is too heterogeneous to come to a firm conclusion about efficacy. It might improve some aspects of memory, cognition, and mood in certain people, but it could also have no substantial effects on any aspects of health.
The most common adverse effects of Bacopa monnieri are gastrointestinal issues like nausea, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea, as well as dry mouth. This could be related to Bacopa monnieri’s cholinergic properties, or gastric irritation from the bacoside compounds. There are also reports of flu-like symptoms occurring after taking Bacopa, as well as a reduction in the number of dreams. Not all studies report adverse events, so other negative reactions are possible. Anecdotally, some people experience a lack of motivation after taking Bacopa, likely due to its anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) effects. A rat study reported a reversible decrease in sperm count, motility, and viability at a dose of 250 mg/kg/day, but there are no human studies on Bacopa and fertility.
The exact mechanisms by which Bacopa monnieri confers any potential benefits are not fully understood, but they are likely a byproduct of the main active components of Bacopa monnieri, particularly saponins (e.g., bacoside-A and bacoside-B), alkaloids, and polyphenols. In vitro studies find that bacosides could be neuroprotective and may actually enhance neurotransmission and synaptic activity, partly by stimulating the proliferation of branches (dendrites) off of neurons. Bacosides may also modulate stress hormones within the brain and positively interact with the serotonin, dopamine, and cholinergic systems, which helps to explain Bacopa’s possible mood-related effects. Furthermore, Bacopa monnieri has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Lysimachia Monnieri L. Cent.
- Graticola Monnieri L.
- Herpestis Monniera L. Kunth.
- Water Hyssop
- Thyme-leafed Gratiola
- Indian Pennywort
- Cnidium Monnieri (Unrelated herb)
The most common dose for Bacopa monnieri is 300 mg per day, assuming that the total bacoside content (the active compound) is approximately 55% of the extract by weight. Doses of up to 600 mg per day have been used in some studies. A phase I study found doses of 300 mg and 450 mg per day to be safe in healthy adults. Higher doses don’t necessarily equate with greater effects.
Bacopa monnieri is fat soluble and requires a lipid transporter to be absorbed, so it should be supplemented alongside a meal. Historically, Bacopa monnieri was consumed with ghee, a clarified butter that originated in India.
Bacopa monnieri should be stored at 30℃ (86℉) or lower, with a relative humidity of 65% or less. The bacopaside content of the supplement will decrease if it is kept at higher temperatures.
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