Bacopa Monnieri: Review of Nootropic Effects & Uses

Updated on February 5, 2024
 by — reviewed by Jason Williams, PhD (Contributor: George Collins / Editor: Yoko Hill)
The seamless integration of Bacopa Monnieri with neural connections highlighting its nootropic effects.

The nootropic herb Bacopa Monnieri, commonly known as Brahmi in Indian traditional Ayurvedic medicine, is a perennial medicinal plant gaining recognition for its cognitive effects.

Renowned for improving memory and cognitive function, Bacopa has been studied extensively in placebo-controlled trials,revealing significant impacts on working memory, attention, and brain-derived neurotrophic factors. 

Could this be the right nootropic to promote cognitive enhancement in your life?

Let’s explore the facts.

What is Bacopa Mannieri?

Bacopa Monnieri (a traditional medicine stem plant commonly called Brahmi, Indian Pennywort, Water Hyssop or Herb of Grace) is a perennial herb that grows as a creeping aquarium plant with white flowers. This medicinal herb is native to the wetlands of Southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America.

Bacopa Mannieri is primarily recognized for its cognitive-enhancing properties. This medical herb improves memory, concentration, and processing speed and is often used in nootropic supplements to improve cognitive performance.

Bacopa Monnieri is said to have neuroprotective properties, protecting the brain from oxidative stress and improving signaling in the brain. This means it provides a decreased risk of cognitive impairment and decline.

Apart from cognitive enhancement, Bacopa is also used for its potential to reduce anxiety and stress, leading to increased overall health. Considered an adaptogen, a substance that helps the body adapt to stress and exert a normalizing effect upon bodily processes, it’s thought to have a calming effect on the nervous system.

Due to its wide range of potential health benefits and historical significance in Ayurveda, Bacopa Monnieri is a subject of interest in modern medicinal practices.

Overall, studies have examined the effects of Bacopa on cognitive function, memory improvement, and other health benefits. Many of these studies have shown positive results,(1) although more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy of Bacopa Monnieri and potential therapeutic applications.

Pros:

  • Improves cognitive functions such as memory, attention, and processing speed
  • Neurocognitive protection against oxidative stress
  • Reduces stress with anti-anxiety effects
  • Various other health uses, such as a treatment for epilepsy and asthma

Cons:

  • May interact with certain medications, such as those for Alzheimer’s disease, and thyroid hormones
  • Requires daily use over several weeks or months for results

Mechanism of Action

The general activity of Bacopa Monnieri on brain health is multifaceted.

Here’s an overview of how Bacopa Monnieri works:

  1. Introduces Bacosides: The primary active compounds in Bacopa are saponins known as bacosides.(2) These compounds are thought to be responsible for the herb’s neuroprotective and cognitive-enhancing effects, including its ability to improve memory.
  2. Neurotransmitter Modulation: Bacopa may influence the levels of certain neurotransmitters in the brain. It’s believed to increase the release of acetylcholine, a key neurotransmitter for learning and memory.(3) It also modulates the activity of serotonin and dopamine, which can affect mood and anxiety levels.
  3. Stimulates Hippocampus: Bacopa Monnieri promotes neurogenesis in the hippocampus. Neurogenesis is the process of generating new neurons, which is vital for maintaining cognitive functions.(4)
  4. Effects of Triterpenoid Glycosides: The triterpenoid glycosides from Bacopa Monnieri, like bacosides, are key in its nootropic action. They play a role in enhancing synaptic communication and neuroprotection.(5)
  5. Discovery of New Phenylethanoid Glycosides: Recent research identifying new phenylethanoid glycosides in Bacopa contributes to our understanding of its complex pharmacological profile and varied therapeutic effects on cognitive health.
  6. Enhancing Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF): Some studies suggest that the effects of Bacopa Monnieri extract increase the expression of BDNF, a protein that supports the survival of existing neurons and encourages the growth of new neurons and synapses. BDNF plays a crucial role in learning, memory, brain plasticity, and overall mental health.
  7. Cholinergic System: By enhancing the cholinergic system (related to acetylcholine), Bacopa may improve memory and cognitive function, especially in older adults or those with cognitive impairments and memory problems.
  8. Amyloid Reduction: Some clinical research suggests that the activity of Bacopa Mannieri can reduce the formation of amyloid plaques in the brain, which are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.(2) This is still a developing area of research as more information is needed to confirm if the extract of BM could be used medicinally for mental health conditions.

Nootropic Benefits of Bacopa Mannieri

Bacopa Monnieri (BM), is renowned for its nootropic benefits that enhance cognitive functions. Its efficacy is largely attributed to its active compounds, particularly triterpenoid and phenylethanoid glycosides.

Here’s a list of Bacopa Mannieri’s key nootropic benefits:

1. Regulates Stress Responses

Bacopa’s adaptogenic properties help in regulating the body’s response to stress. It modulates the activity of stress hormones, which helps in reducing anxiety and improving mental clarity under stress.(6) The dammarane-type triterpenoid saponins from Bacopa Monnieri, particularly the effect of bacosides, are key active compounds responsible for many of the herb’s therapeutic effects and impact on mental function.

2. Neuroprotective and Antioxidant Effects

This medicinal herb has strong antioxidant properties, which contributes to the protective role of Bacopa Monnieri supplementation. It helps in reducing oxidative stress in the brain, which is a common factor from the effects of aging and various neurodegenerative diseases.(7) This antioxidant action contributes to the neuroprotective effects of Bacopa Monnieri, guarding against brain aging and cognitive decline. Studies suggest that Bacopa positively impacts the brain microstructure in healthy older adults. This suggests an ability to slow down or improve age-related cognitive decline.

3. Reduces Inflammation

The herb also exhibits anti-inflammatory properties. Chronic inflammation in the brain is linked to various cognitive disorders, and by mitigating this, Bacopa supports overall brain health and protects against memory loss.(8)

4. Enhances Neuronal Communication

Bacopa is thought to increase the growth and proliferation of dendrites, which are nerve cell extensions crucial for brain function and communication.(9) This action enhances neuronal communication and synaptic processing for increased cognition, memory, and learning. It’s this unique activity of Bacopa Mannieri that has it nicknamed a ”tonic for the human brain” by Dr. Samarpita Banerjee.(10)

Uses of Bacopa Mannieri

Bacopa Monnieri, widely recognized for its medicinal properties, has various uses:

  • Improvement in Cognitive Functions: The effects of Brahmi are well-regarded for its positive effects on the brain’s cognitive processes. It enhances memory, attention, and the processing speed of information.
  • Treatment of Anhedonia: Anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure, is a symptom of various mental health disorders. Bacopa’s influence on neurotransmitter systems is a beneficial adjunct treatment for anhedonia.
  • Stress Reduction: Acts as an adaptogen, helping to manage stress.
  • Neuroprotection: Offers neuroprotective benefits, potentially aiding in neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s.
  • Anxiety Relief: Used for its anxiolytic properties to reduce anxiety.
  • Antidepressant Effects: Has a positive impact on mood and depressive symptoms.
  • Improving Sleep Quality: Assists in enhancing sleep quality and managing insomnia.
  • Epilepsy Management: Traditionally used in the treatment of epilepsy.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Benefits children and adults with ADHD.
  • Anti-Inflammatory Properties: Exhibits anti-inflammatory effects, useful in various inflammatory conditions.
  • Antioxidant Benefits: Protects cells from oxidative stress and damage.
  • Learning and Memory in Children: Used to enhance cognitive development and memory in children.
  • Age-Related Cognitive Decline: Helps in managing cognitive decline in the elderly.
  • Heart Health: Beneficial in cardiovascular health due to its antioxidant properties.
  • Gastrointestinal Health: Used in traditional medicine for digestive issues.
  • Respiratory Conditions: Employed in managing respiratory conditions like asthma.

Where to Buy Bacopa Mannieri

Finding high-quality BM extract from a reliable source can be hard. 

Luckily, we have found the no.1 online supplier of Brahmi dietary supplements.

You can find an impressive library of powerful nootropic herbs, including Bacopa Mannieri, on SuperSmart.com. With third-party testing, a trustworthy reputation, and affordable prices, this online vendor stands out.

Bacopa Mannieri Dosage

Regarding the dosage of Bacopa Monnieri, particularly in the form of a standardized extract (which is isolated from Bacopa Monnieri leaves), it’s vital to adhere to specific guidelines to ensure efficacy and safety. 

The standardized extract ensures a consistent concentration of the active compounds, typically the bacosides.

Here’s an overview of the recommended dosage:

  • Standardized Extract: When using a standardized extract of Bacopa Monnieri (BME), it’s crucial to check the percentage of bacosides in the product. Standard extracts typically contain 20-50% bacosides.
  • General Dosage for Adults: For general cognitive enhancement in healthy adults, a common dose is between 300 mg to 450 mg per day of the standardized extract.
  • Dosage for the Elderly: In healthy elderly populations, the dosage may vary depending on the individual’s health status and the desired therapeutic effect. A common practice is to start at a lower dose to gauge tolerance.
  • High Dosage Range: Some studies have experimented with higher doses and found 320 mg and 640 mg to be effective.(11) These doses are typically used in a research setting to assess the efficacy and safety of Bacopa in different cognitive functions and health conditions.

Bacopa Monnieri may take several weeks to exhibit noticeable effects. Consistent daily intake of at least 8-12 weeks is often recommended for best results.

Note: it’s important to note that individual responses to Bacopa Monnieri can vary, and what works for one person may not be suitable for another. Adjusting the dosage based on personal tolerance and health goals is often necessary.

Bacopa Mannieri Side Effects & Safety

Bacopa Monnieri is generally considered safe for most people, but like any supplement, it can have adverse effects, especially when not used as directed.

Here’s an overview of its most common adverse effects:

  • Gastrointestinal discomfort
  • Dry Mouth and thirst
  • Fatigue and sedation

Here are some safety considerations:

  • Slow Heart Rate (Bradycardia): Bacopa may cause a slowing of the heart rate. Individuals with pre-existing heart conditions should consult a healthcare provider before taking Bacopa.
  • Drug Interactions: Bacopa can interact with certain medications, including those for Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid disorders, and sedatives. It’s essential to consult with a healthcare provider for potential interactions.
  • Long-Term Safety: While short-term use of Bacopa is generally considered safe, the long-term safety is less clear. Prolonged use should be monitored by a healthcare professional.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Bacopa should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Overall, BM extract is typically safe for healthy adults and the elderly. However, some adverse effects can be experienced. These typically don’t last long, and go away once your body adjusts. If you experience an allergic response (skin rash, swollen glands, etc.), discontinue use immediately.

Summary

In conclusion, Bacopa Monnieri emerges as a significant nootropic herb with considerable cognitive enhancing benefits. 

Its traditional use in Ayurvedic medicine for years, coupled with modern scientific research, underscores its potential to enhance cognitive functions, particularly memory and attention. In addition, this medicinal extract has a variety of diverse applications, from stress management to potentially aiding in ADHD and Alzheimer’s disease.

Ultimately, Bacopa Monnieri presents as a promising dietary supplement for cognitive health.

FAQs

How long does Bacopa Mannieri take to work?

The effects of Bacopa Monnieri on cognitive function may not be immediately noticeable. It’s common for users to report noticeable improvements after 8-12 weeks of consistent use.

What is the elimination half-life of Bacopa Mannieri?

The elimination half-life of Bacopa Monnieri is not well-documented in scientific literature, as it is a complex mixture of various compounds rather than a single active ingredient.

Should you cycle Bacopa Mannieri?

There is no standard recommendation for cycling Bacopa Monnieri. Unlike some nootropics that may require cycling to prevent tolerance, Bacopa is often used continuously over long periods in traditional practices.

Can I stack Bacopa Mannieri with other nootropics?

Bacopa Monnieri is commonly included in nootropic stacks and is generally considered safe to combine with other nootropics. However, interactions can occur, so it’s important to do so under the guidance of a healthcare professional, especially if combined with prescription medications.

How should I store Bacopa Mannieri?

Bacopa Monnieri supplements should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and moisture. It’s important to follow the storage instructions provided on the product label.


Sources, Studies, and Scientific Research
  1. Calabrese, Carlo et al. “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.) vol. 14,6 (2008): 707-13. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0018 
  2. Fatima, Urooj et al. “Pharmacological attributes of Bacopa monnieri extract: Current updates and clinical manifestation.” Frontiers in nutrition vol. 9 972379. 18 Aug. 2022, doi:10.3389/fnut.2022.972379  
  3. Kongkeaw, Chuenjid et al. “Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract.” Journal of ethnopharmacology vol. 151,1 (2014): 528-35. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2013.11.008 
  4. Pham, Hang Thi Nguyet et al. “Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst. Extract Improves Memory Performance via Promotion of Neurogenesis in the Hippocampal Dentate Gyrus of Adolescent Mice.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 21,9 3365. 9 May. 2020, doi:10.3390/ijms21093365 
  5. Jeyasri, Rajendran et al. “Bacopa monnieri and Their Bioactive Compounds Inferred Multi-Target Treatment Strategy for Neurological Diseases: A Cheminformatics and System Pharmacology Approach.” Biomolecules vol. 10,4 536. 2 Apr. 2020, doi:10.3390/biom10040536 
  6. Rai, Deepak et al. “Adaptogenic effect of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi).” Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior vol. 75,4 (2003): 823-30. doi:10.1016/s0091-3057(03)00156-4 
  7. Aguiar, Sebastian, and Thomas Borowski. “Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri.” Rejuvenation research vol. 16,4 (2013): 313-26. doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1431 
  8. Gregory, Julie et al. “Neuroprotective Herbs for the Management of Alzheimer’s Disease.” Biomolecules vol. 11,4 543. 8 Apr. 2021, doi:10.3390/biom11040543 
  9. McPhee, Grace M et al. “The Neurocognitive Effects of Bacopa monnieri and Cognitive Training on Markers of Brain Microstructure in Healthy Older Adults.” Frontiers in aging neuroscience vol. 13 638109. 22 Feb. 2021, doi:10.3389/fnagi.2021.638109 
  10. Banerjee, Samarpita et al. “Bacosides from Bacopa monnieri extract: An overview of the effects on neurological disorders.” Phytotherapy research : PTR vol. 35,10 (2021): 5668-5679. doi:10.1002/ptr.7203 
  11. Kean, James D et al. “Systematic Overview of Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst. Dominant Poly-Herbal Formulas in Children and Adolescents.” Medicines (Basel, Switzerland) vol. 4,4 86. 22 Nov. 2017, doi:10.3390/medicines4040086 
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