Be Your Best Self With Bacopa

There are very few herbs we will discuss in which the name coined to describe it directly refers to the source of life. Bacopa monnieri is the plant I’m talking about, also known as Brahmi, named after Brahma, the creator God of the Hindu pantheon.

Consider this article a testament to how Bacopa is truly one of the best brain herbs for a comprehensive nootropic effect. We will be taking a look beyond the well-known facts and go into the details of what makes this herb special.

Powerful Pond Plant

Aside from its nootropic effects recognized throughout modern science today, Bacopa is a beautiful plant found in nature. The succulent-like leaves hold more than meets the eye with small white petals emanating from its yellow disk.

It is found most abundantly in damp marshy areas around the world including Southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North & South America. It’s amazing how well this plant can creepily grow along the floor of even the most bogged down wetlands.

In India, Bacopa is revered so highly that newborn babies are consecrated with it in the hope that it will open up the pathway to intellect. It’s even been said that Nobel Prize winners of the 1998 discovery of nitric oxide as a signaling molecule in the cardiovascular system used bacopa in their award-winning experiments.

This herb of grace has long existed as a staple plant medicine throughout Ayuverdic traditional medicine for thousands of years. It was first mentioned in Indian 6th-century holy texts including the Atharva-Veda for its purported use of helping scholars to memorize long hymns and texts.

More common traditional usage would be for ulcers, tumors, enlarged spleen, indigestion, inflammation, leprosy, anemia, and biliousness. In Ayurveda, pitta energy is considered the regulator of heat, energy, excitement and passion. Bacopa is known as a soother of pitta imbalances such as inflamed, overheated, or over-agitated condition of the body body spirit complex.

For the problems of spirit of psyche, Ayuverdic practitioners believed incorporating the herb into ghee (clarified butter) helped its efficacy by increasing the absorption. We now know that Bacopa is in fact fat-soluble, which means that it should be taken with a fat source for maximum absorption. With this in mind, Bacopa has been a staple in tradition Indian foods for its rather simple means of administration—Just eat it!

In the Unani Perso-Arabic system of traditional medicine, based on the teaching of Greek physicians Hippocrates and Galen, Bacopa is considered bitter with aphrodisiac properties. It was used to treat scabies, syphilis, diarrhea, fevers, and as a blood purifier.

Even today, Indians from small villages have access and use bacopa monnieri because of its well-known capabilities to improve brain health from a young age.

Brain Benefits and Beyond

Bacopa Monnieri is an adaptogenic herb that is able to help our body perform under stressful conditions by naturally reaching balance in the body through a process called homeostasis.[1] This equates to more resilience, awareness, and attention to detail even in a less than optimal environment.[2]

The main constituents in Bacopa’s myriad of benefits include a group of plant antioxidants known as saponins, specifically two known as Bacosides A & B.[3] Bacoside A assists in the release of nitric oxide allowing the relaxation of the aorta, veins and blood to flow more smoothly and promoting circulation throughout the body. Bacoside B is a protein valued for nourishing nerve cells in the brain.

These bacosides are touted for their potent free radical scavenging effects, even having been shown to neutralize free radicals and prevent reactions between fat molecules and free radicals.[4] This is important because when fat molecules react with free radicals, they undergo a process called lipid peroxidation. Lipid peroxidation is linked to several conditions, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and other neurodegenerative disorders.[5] [6]

Bacopa’s brain boosting abilities work by changing the levels of neurotransmitters like dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine in your brain.[7] Like we talked about previously, animal studies show that it also balances stress hormone levels like noradrenaline and corticosterone.[8]

Even more interesting, it may also increase cerebral blood flow and change the translation and expression of specific receptors in your nervous system directly connected to learning, memory, sleep, relaxation, and mood.[9]

Bacopa has been shown to promote memory and enhance brain function by affecting levels and action of brain-derived neurotrophic factor, or BDNF for short.[10] BDNF is associated with neuroplasticity (the ability of your brain to change and learn new things) as well as learning, memory, mood, and overall sense of wellbeing.[11]

The benefits of Bacopa are found to be a result of dedritic growth, located in the hippocampus of the brain.[12] This is one of the regions of the brain primarily focused on learning and memory formation. It’s important to remember that memories are not stored in a single place in the brain; rather, they are distributed throughout a particular cluster of neurons.

Dendrite growth as a result of taking Bacopa is important for long term memory improvement because dendrites are what nerve cells use to communicate with each other. Allowing neurons to communicate better with each other in turn allows for faster feedback by means of memory access, transmit, and processing information at greater speed and efficiency.

It doesn’t end there, a remarkable study even showed that Bacopa can improve multitasking stress reactivity and reduce anxiety during demanding cognitive tasks, allowing people to do multiple tasks at once.[13] Bacopa is phenomenal for those looking to increase cognition and decrease choice reaction time.[14]

It’s important to not that the benefits of Bacopa monnieri, like most herbs, does not come instantly. It’s recommended to take Bacopa for at least 4 weeks, with studies showing 8-12 weeks to notice the full benefits, making Bacopa a great long term companion for the brain.

Helping ADHD Children with Bacopa

Researchers have long been looking into the benefits of Bacopa in children, finding that in a review of five studies, Bacopa improves language skills such as vocabulary, spelling, processing sounds, and understanding words.[15] It also increases the number of items children can recall during a test[16], with a  randomized, double-blind study of 300 children finding that it improved spatial working memory and strategy.[17]

Whether it’s the boost in cognition or the mental calmness associated with Bacopa, children seem to have an affinity for the best of what this plant has to offer. Another study of 120 children diagnosed with ADHD found that Bacopa not only increased attention and cognition, but more importantly impulse control.[18]

A similar study on children aged 6-12 who were diagnosed with ADHD before the age of 7 found that Bacopa reduced symptoms of ADHD, noting that the children tolerated it well.[19] While more studies are coming out on the benefits of Bacopa for dyslexia, preliminary evidence suggests it may be helpful.[20]

In a world where pharmaceuticals such as Adderall are commonly prescribed in the blink of an eye, maybe it’s worth a second thought with the research backing up Bacopa’s immense benefits for children with ADHD. Not only is Bacopa non-addictive, but it actually becomes more effective with time, with studies showing improvements are much better at 8-12 weeks than they are at 4-6 weeks.

With all of these amazing benefits affecting all ages, we’ve decided to put together a unique blend of herbs including Bacopa in our Nootropic Focus product which you can find here. Check it out for yourself and let us know what you think!