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Bacopa monnieri

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.

Our evidence-based analysis on bacopa monnieri features 97 unique references to scientific papers.

Research analysis led by and reviewed by the Examine team.
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Summary of Bacopa monnieri

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

What is Bacopa monnieri?

Bacopa monnieri, commonly known as water hyssop, is an herb often used in Ayurveda. It is taken for the purpose of improving cognitive function, stress relief, and a general enhancement of vitality. Bacopa monnieri interacts with the dopamine and serotonergic systems, but its main mechanism concerns promoting neuron communication. It does this by increasing the growth of dendrites. Bacopa monnieri also has antioxidant effects.

What are Bacopa monnieri's benefits?

An improvement in memory is the only known benefit of Bacopa, and the effect tends to be inconsistent across different tests and scenarios, making it difficult to know specifically when it’s beneficial. Though effects of this nature are usually studied in the elderly, Bacopa monnieri appears to affect young people as well. Some preliminary research suggests that it can reduce cortisol secretion and the depletion of dopamine and serotonin during chronic stress, but more research is needed to confirm this. It may have antidepressant effects, but is largely unproven for that purpose.

What are Bacopa monnieri's side effects and drawbacks?

Taking Bacopa monnieri on an empty stomach may cause nausea, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea. Since Bacopa monnieri may have anxiolytic effects, a relaxed person might experience a lack of motivation to work after supplementation, and it may not be safe to take it in conjunction with other anxiolytics.

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How to Take

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

The standard dose for Bacopa monnieri is 300mg, assuming that the total bacoside content (the active compound) is 55% of the extract, by weight. Higher doses haven't been consistently shown to lead to greater effects.

Bacopa monnieri can also be supplemented in a leaf or powder form. To achieve the ideal 10-20% of bacoside content requires a dose of 750-1,500mg of the leaf or powder.

Historically, Bacopa monnieri was consumed with ghee, a clarified butter that originated in India. Since Bacopa monnieri is fat soluble and requires a lipoid transporter to be absorbed, it should be supplemented alongside a meal.

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Human Effect Matrix

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The Human Effect Matrix summarizes human studies to tell you what effects Bacopa monnieri has on your body, how much evidence there is, and how strong these effects are.

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Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Minor High See all 13 studies
Although the evidence isn't consistent across studies, or tests within studies, Bacopa appears to improve various types of memory (notably working memory) in both healthy persons and during cognitive decline. It's unclear what effects it has in the long-term, as most studies are either 12 weeks long or deal with acute dosing, the former being more reliable. More high-quality evidence and replication of specific tests is needed before we can be confident in its effects.
grade-b - High See all 9 studies
There is unlikely to be an inherent effect of bacopa on attention, although a couple of studies have noted improvements in attention in persons with attention deficit (ADD), and in healthy participants.
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
Appears to prevent rises in anxiety, and does not appear to unilaterally reduce anxiety. May be more of a modulator than anything, but doesn't appear overly potent
grade-c Minor Very High See all 3 studies
An anti-depressive effect has been noted, but to a relatively small magnitude. Requires more context-based evidence
grade-c Minor - See study
A small reduction of acute forgetting (just during a task, not outright amnesia) has been noted, which may contribute better to long term memory (ie. grasping concepts better)
grade-c Minor Low See all 5 studies
Studies generally suggest increases during cognitive testing, but there's a lack of quality, rigorous research. Bacopa rarely improves most measures of working memory in these studies, and administering a large battery of tests makes it more likely to find at least some positives, so these results should be taken with a grain of salt.
grade-c - Very High See 2 studies
No significant influence on blood pressure has been noted with chronic bacopa ingestion
grade-d Minor - See study
An improvement was found during cognitive testing in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
Improvements were found in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
Non-significant increase in one study.
grade-d Minor - See study
There was a reduction in one study, but only for the highest dose (620 mg), not the lower dose (320 mg).
grade-d Minor - See study
A small increase was found in one study over the course of 12 weeks.
grade-d Minor - See study
One study found a small decrease over 12 weeks.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect on simple memories over the course of 15 minutes in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence from two studies. Needs more research.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - Low See all 3 studies
Mixed evidence from three studies. Needs more research.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - Very High See 2 studies
No apparent effect in two studies.
grade-d - Moderate See 2 studies
Mixed evidence from two studies. Needs more research.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study over the course of one year.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.
grade-d - - See study
No apparent effect in one study.

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Things to Note

Other Functions:

Also Known As

Brahmi, Aindri, Lysimachia monnieri L. Cent., Graticola monnieri L., Herpestis monniera L. Kunth., Water hyssop, Thyme-leafed gratiola, Indian Pennywort, Jalabrahmi

Do Not Confuse With

Cnidium Monnieri (Unrelated herb)

Goes Well With

  • In double-blind interventions, Bacopa tends to give upset stomachs much more than placebo. Would be advisable to take with food

  • Bacopa takes time to work. Studies that are too short tend to note either lesser or no effects, and studies that take multiple measures note that improvements are much better at 8-12 weeks than they are at 4-6 weeks.

  • Anxiolytic effects might be acute though; its just the cognitive enhancement that seems to take time.

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Click here to see all 97 references.