Bacopa Monnieri: What is it and What are its Benefits
Whether you’re a student trying to maximize your intellect, a professional trying to be more productive, or a mature adult trying to strengthen their brain against dementia, you may be interested in nootropics. Nootropics are substances, natural or synthetic, that boost cognitive functions. Their use has become mainstream in recent years, with more studies showing their efficacy in improving memory, learning, focus, creativity, and energy.
What is Bacopa Monnieri?
Bacopa Monnieri is an Ayurvedic herb used in India’s traditional medicine - the world’s oldest healing and medicinal practice. Some of this herb’s other names are andri, Brahmi, herpestis herb, Indian pennywort, herb of grace, and water hyssop. It was used to treat anxiety, memory issues, and even thyroid disorders.
This herb grows all over the world in tropical, wet environments. It can even thrive underwater, which makes it a popular aquarium plant.
How it Works
Bacopa Monnieri works by enhancing the communication between neurons. This facilitates improved brain function. It also works with neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin to improve mood and promote a feeling of well-being.
The Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri
Research reveals that the benefits of Bacopa Monnieri are broad and significant. If you are considering supplementing with it, here are some of the health benefits you may expect.
Boosts Brain Function
Many studies show Bacopa Monnieri improves memory and other cognitive functions. One review of several studies said that Bacopa has the potential to boost thinking and mental processes. Another study in 2016 took 60 college students and, after being given twice-daily doses (300 mg daily total) of Bacopa, had improved performance in tests.
Bacopa Monnieri contains powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants protect cells against free radicals, which are unstable molecules responsible for cellular damage leading to disease and aging. Antioxidants can protect our cells from much of this oxidative damage. Free radicals are linked to diabetes, heart disease, age-related neurodegenerative disorders, and some cancers.
The antioxidants in Bacopa Monnieri can neutralize the activity of many free radicals and protect your cells from damage.
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Inflammation occurs naturally in the body for healing and for fighting disease. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it is linked to several chronic diseases, including heart and kidney disease, cancer, and diabetes. In certain studies, Bacopa Monnieri seemed to hinder the release of molecules, leading to an inflammatory immune response. It also inhibited enzymes that are linked to inflammation and pain.
Decreases Stress and Anxiety
Bacopa Monnieri is also an adaptogen, which means it aids the body in mitigating the damage of stress and makes your body more resistant to it. Some research suggests that it works by lifting mood and decreasing cortisol (the stress hormone). In two human studies, a dose of 300 mg per day significantly diminished anxiety and depression in adults. More than mental anguish, stress and anxiety causes changes in the body and deteriorates the immune, endocrine, and neurological systems. Adaptogens have stimulants that neutralize the harm.
Minimizes ADHD Symptoms
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a neurological disorder evidenced by inattention, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. These symptoms can make life challenging for those with the disorder. While there are pharmaceuticals that decrease the impact of these negative symptoms, many people prefer a more natural approach.
Bacopa Monnieri is reported to be a real help. In a study of 31 school-aged children taking 225 mg of Bacopa every day for six months, there was a significant decrease in ADHD symptoms. Some of these symptoms were restlessness, inattention, and poor self-control.
Yet another study took 120 children with ADHD and gave them a blend of herbs containing 125 mg of Bacopa. The results were considerable and positive for the control group compared to the placebo group.
Lowers Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious condition as it puts stress on the heart and blood vessels, causing a weakened cardiovascular system and possibly heart disease. There is some evidence to show that Bacopa may help to lower blood pressure. In animal studies, it reduced the diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels by releasing nitric oxide, which aids in blood vessel dilation. Bacopa Monnieri did not affect normal blood pressure levels.
In test-tube and animal studies, Bacopa Monnieri is found to kill aggressive brain cancer cells and hinder the growth of colon and breast cancer cells. These results may be due to the high levels of antioxidants and other substances in the Bacopa, like bacosides, that fight cancer cells. More studies are needed.
Bacopa Monnieri is fat-soluble, so it should be taken with food to be better absorbed. The standard dose is 300 mg (assuming 55% of the extract by weight), but if taken in powder or leaf form, take 750 - 1,500 mg per day.
Possible Side Effects
If you take Bacopa Monnieri on an empty stomach, it could cause nausea, bloating, and diarrhea.
Bacopa may interact with some medications, like pain reliever, amitriptyline. So check with your doctor if you’re on any medications.
Besides that, Bacopa is considered safe to use - though its effects on pregnant and breastfeeding women are unknown.
The Last Word
Bacopa Monnieri may have many health benefits in addition to potential boosts to cognitive function. More research is being done, and the results are promising.
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