Bacopa monnieri is one of the oldest and most well-respected nootropic supplements. A traditional Ayurvedic medicine, sometimes referred to as Brahmi, has centuries of history as a potent cognitive enhancer, stress reliever, and brain protectant.
Bacopa monnieri is used to improve memory formation and speed of recall, make learning faster and easier, enhance clarity of thought, and augment overall brain function. It is also believed to act as a brain protectant, and studies show that it has potential as a treatment for dementia.
Bacopa has also been shown to have significant anxiolytic or anti-anxiety effects, producing a feeling of calmness and tranquility and reducing feelings of stress. Users report that it is an excellent general relaxant and can improve the quality of sleep, so they wake feeling rested and refreshed.
Its nootropic effects are similar to those of Piracetam, one of the most familiar chemically synthesized “smart drugs,” but bacopa monnieri is an herbal supplement that is synthesized in nature rather than in the laboratory. The bacopa monnieri supplement is made from the extract of the bacopa monnieri plant, a low-growing perennial native to southern India and also found in warm wetlands throughout Asia and southern US states.
Benefits and Effects
Bacopa monnieri is used throughout Asia as a traditional treatment for a wide variety of disorders ranging from asthma to ulcers, indigestion, and even epilepsy, but it is primarily known in the West for its potent nootropic properties.
Improving memory, in both memory formation and speed of recall, is one of bacopa monnieri’s most powerful benefits. Studies have shown that bacopa significantly improved memory in groups of older people, and ongoing research is investigating its potential for treatment of memory-impairing neurological disorders including Alzheimer’s disease.
Improved Learning Ability
Bacopa Monnieri is known to augment cognitive processing, making learning new things faster and easier. Studies indicate that it significantly improves spatial learning, and it has also been shown to enhance learning capacity in subjects under stress. Most users say that taking bacopa when studying makes it easier to assimilate and recall new material, reports that are borne out by clinical trials at India’s Central Drug Institute (CDRI) in Lucknow. The CDI studies indicate that children taking bacopa demonstrate enhanced academic abilities.
Anxiety Reduction and Stress Relief
One of the most valuable benefits of bacopa monnieri is its ability to relieve anxiety and reduce the negative effects of stress. Clinical trials indicated that bacopa significantly reduced anxiety and depression in volunteers, and animal studies compare bacopa favorably to other plant extracts for the effective treatment of anxiety and other psychiatric disorders.
One of the most exciting aspects of bacopa monnieri is its potential as a potent anti-aging supplement. Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine as a brain tonic, bacopa has been shown to have powerful antioxidant properties that can protect the brain against environmental stressors implicated in the cognitive impairment related to aging and closely associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders.
How it Works
Bacopa monnieri impacts many body systems, but its nootropic and anxiolytic effects are largely created by its ability to promote neural communication and modulate the release of certain neurotransmitters.
Memory and Cognitive Actions
Though it works over time by a variety of functions, bacopa generally improves memory and cognitive abilities by improving synaptic communication. It enhances the growth and proliferation of dendrites, the “branched” nerve cell extensions along which neural impulses travel, enhancing neural signaling. This improved neural impulse transmission is a key to cognitive enhancement.
Bacoside-A, the active ingredient in bacopa monnieri extract, has been shown to stimulate nerve cells and make synapses more receptive to nerve impulses. It also increases production of the enzyme Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH2), which is crucial to a number of central nervous system activities, including the biosynthesis of serotonin.
Bacopa is also thought to stimulate activity in the hippocampus by increasing the activity of kinases, proteins that regulate cellular pathways. Because the hippocampus is integrally involved in virtually all cognitive activity, this is believed to be one of the most important ways in which bacopa boosts brain power.
Anti-Anxiety Actions and Mood Management
Bacopa monnieri produces its characteristic calming effects through several actions. One of its most important anti-anxiety effects lies in its ability to modulate the activity of specific neurotransmitter receptors, including those that regulate the uptake of serotonin, which is strongly associated with mood and anxiety management.
Also, one of bacopa’s active ingredients is hersaponin, an alkaloid that has been demonstrated to have a relaxing, sedative-like effect.
Studies also show that Bacoside-A, one of bacopa’s primary active ingredients, can prevent dopamine receptor dysfunction. Dopamine, a powerful neurotransmitter responsible for the brain’s reward and pleasure systems, is closely tied to mood.
Bacopa’s active ingredients are also known to support the activity of GABA, a powerful inhibitory neurotransmitter that acts to prevent anxiety by restricting the firing of neurons that are over-excited by stress.
Bacopa monnieri is a powerful supplement that can make a huge positive difference in how users learn, think, and feel, but finding the right dosage is crucial. Unlike the racetam-class nootropics and other synthetic smart drugs that are extremely well tolerated at even very high dosages, bacopa does have the potential for toxicity when taken in large amounts.
It is also unlike many other nootropics in that it isn’t generally considered to be fast acting and doesn’t usually have observable effects immediately. Achieving maximum benefits from bacopa may require an extended regimen of regular doses over four to six weeks.
The active compounds in bacopa monnieri, bacosides, can vary from product to product but should always be stated on the supplement’s label. A common recommended bacoside content level is 50%. A dosage of 300 mg per day, at 50% bacoside, is generally considered safe and effective but individual reactions to bacopa vary considerably. For other bacoside concentrations simply calculate that you are looking to get approximately 150 mg of bacoside content.
As with any supplement, it’s wise to start with the lowest possible effective dose and build gradually as needed, closely monitoring reactions and effects and adjusting accordingly.
Many users report that taking bacopa monnieri late in the day or close to bedtime helps them sleep. However some users find that bacopa’s cognitively stimulating properties are so powerful that the opposite is true, so it’s best to take it early in the day until you’re clear on how it affects your sleep.
Conversely, some find bacopa’s calming effects so powerful that it creates unwanted daytime drowsiness. This can be addressed by reducing dosage, taking it closer to bedtime, or pairing it with a more stimulating supplement like oxiracetam to offset the sedative effect.
Bacopa monnieri is available in both capsule and powder form. It is fat soluble but can be dissolved in hot liquid; however, when taken by that means it has a strong taste that some find objectionable. Its actions can affect digestion, particularly when taken on an empty stomach, so it’s best taken with food.
Bacopa monnieri works well on its own but is considered by many to be at its best in combination with other nootropics.
It is frequently combined with other herbal supplements for general health reasons, but for cognitive enhancement and mood management it works well to round out just about any nootropic stack.
For anti-anxiety and stress relief, it works well in a stack with other anxiolytic nootropics like aniracetam or phenibut.
For more mental and physical energy, bacopa pairs well with oxiracetam or phenylpiracetam.
For optimal cognitive performance, it works well in combination with piracetam, pramiracetam, or adrafinil.
Whether you’re stacking for a calming effect or for additional energy and cognitive stimulation, the addition of a good choline source can be important to realizing the maximum benefit and preventing side effects such as a headache.
Though bacopa monnieri is generally safe and effective, there are some potential side effects ranging from minor to relatively serious. Most side effects are related at least in part to dosage levels, so always start with the lowest possible effective dose and build gradually as needed.
The most common side effects of bacopa are indigestion, dry mouth, increased bowel movements, and fatigue. These are all minor and often disappear as the body becomes accustomed to bacopa.
There are also studies on rats that suggest that bacopa may temporarily reduce sperm count after several weeks of supplementation. In those studies, sperm count levels returned to normal after supplementation was suspended. This side effect is far from certain due to the lack of sufficient medical research but to be safe, we suggest men consider the possibility before beginning long-term bacopa supplementation if they are planning to conceive in the near-term.
More serious potential side effects include thyroid disorders, urinary tract problems, gastrointestinal tract blockage, adverse effects on ulcers and lung conditions, and bradycardia or slow heartbeat. There is insufficient research to determine the safety of bacopa monnieri during pregnancy, so pregnant women are advised to avoid it.
Where to Buy
Bacopa monnieri is widely available via different vendors ranging from supplement stores to specialized online vendors. Keep in mind that not all Bacopa available on the market is of high quality.
There are many options available on Amazon.com of which we recommend Absorb Health Bacopa Capsules.
Alternatively, bacopa monnieri can be purchased directly from AbsorbYourHealth.com, our recommended supplier of nootropics.
Bacopa monnieri is an herbal supplement that has been used for many centuries to enhance cognitive abilities, reduce anxiety, and treat a variety of ailments.
Though it is quite different from many modern nootropics in that it must be taken over a period of days, weeks, or even months to achieve maximum results, many users consider it to be an invaluable addition to their supplement regime and testify to its powerful benefits.
If you’re looking for an all-natural supplement that can boost your brain power, relieve stress and anxiety, and even protect your brain against aging, bacopa is an excellent choice.
Planning to start a new supplementation regimen? See our medical disclaimer.