Bacopa Monnieri: The “Feel Good” Nootropic

Bacopa Monnieri

Bacopa is a perennial flowering plant frequently used for its mood-enhancing qualities, but it’s also an incredibly powerful nootropic for learning and memory. The molecule shown is Bacoside-A, which we explore in detail below.

Bacopa Monnieri is one of the oldest, most well-known Ayurvedic medicines in existence, with some accounts tracing it as far back as 800 B.C![1] Also known as Brahmi, bacopa has been extensively used as an adaptogen as well as an herbal remedy used to treat everything ranging from anxiety to depression and even leprosy.[2]

This old world medicine has also been used as a potent cognitive enhancer and neuroprotectant, which is why we’re covering it today. Bacopa offers a wide range of benefits, especially in regards to memory and learning, that make it a “can’t miss” supplement, particularly for the nootropics users and bio-hackers out there, and is included in our current favorite energized nootropic, NootropiMax.

Let’s take a deeper look into what this age-old nootropic medicine is all about!

What is Bacopa Monnieri?

Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial, creeping herb native to the wet northeast and southern regions of India. The herb is incredibly important to the world of Ayurveda and is even named after Lord Brahma, the mythological creator of the world and of the science of Ayurveda.[1]

While the herb has been used for all manner of illnesses throughout the centuries, more recently it’s been investigated for the powerful cognitive benefits it offers, particularly in the areas of learning, memory, and neuroprotection.

Bacopa Rat Acetylcholine

Effect of different doses of bacosides on neurotransmitter acetylcholine content in aged rate brain. Results are expressed as mean±standard deviation of 6 rats in each group.[3]

How does bacopa have such wide-ranging effects on the brain and its assorted functions?

We answer that question next!

What does Bacopa do?

Bacopa impacts several systems of the body, but its nootropic and anxiolytic (stress-relieving) qualities are primarily attributed to its ability to promote neural communication and enhance the release of certain neurotransmitters.

The reason bacopa is able to exert these effects in the body is due to their bacosides,[6] potent bioactive compounds that modulate antioxidant enzymes (like Superoxide Dismutase) and regulate neurotransmitter levels in the brain, especially acetylcholine, dopamine, GABA, and serotonin.[3,4]

Look for bacosides

Bacoside A

Say hello to Bacoside A3, a major component of bacoside — the compound really responsible for Bacopa’s neurological powers.

Bacosides are classified as dammarane-type triterpenoid saponins,[5] and in addition to their role as neurotransmitter regulators, they can regenerate synapses and repair damaged neurons.[4] These powerful saponins also combat “hippocampus devaluation” by removing aluminum in the cerebral cortex,[3] which is particularly useful if you are cautious about aluminum-loaded vaccines or use mainstream deodorants containing aluminum or any other healthcare product loaded with the metal.

Now that you’ve got a better understanding of what you’re dealing with, let’s take a look at the numerous benefits you’ll get by adding this herb to your daily nootropic stack!

Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri

  • Improves Memory & Cognition

    Although bacopa works in a number of different ways, the primary way it enhances memory and cognitive function is by improving synaptic communication. Bacopa supports the growth and proliferation of dendrites, which enhances neural signaling. For those of you unaware, dendrites are the branch-like nerve cell extensions used in the transmission of nerve impulses. With better neural impulse transmission, you’ll experience heightened cognitive function.

    Remember at the top when we talked about bacosides?

    Well, it’s one of those bacosides, Bacoside-A specifically, that stimulates nerve cells, thereby making your synapses more receptive to the nerve impulses.

    Bacopa also improves memory and cognition via stimulation of hippocampal activity. This is accomplished by increasing protein kinase activity, which regulates cellular pathways.[7] Since the hippocampus is vital to virtually all cognitive activity, researchers believe this is one of the most important ways in which bacopa enhances brain power.

  • Reduces Stress

    Bacopa Cortisol Levels.

    Bacopa helps alleviate stress and anxiety by significantly reducing cortisol levels in the body.[23]

    Perhaps bacopa’s most well-known role is that of an adaptogen. As you probably are aware, adaptogens are compounds, herbs, or other natural substances that help the body cope with all manner of physical, emotional, and psychological stressors.

    Bacopa has some solid human research demonstrating its adaptogenic effects, including decreased cortisol,[23] which is something other adaptogens (like ashwagandha) also do. Reduced cortisol helps boost mood and decrease stress.

    Moreover, since bacopa affects dopamine and serotonin production, it can attenuate chronic stress-induced changes in dopamine and serotonin in the hippocampus and cortex,[24] which serves as further proof of bacopa’s adaptogenic properties.

  • Relieves Anxiety

    Anxiety and stress are almost a given in today’s age of “gotta have it now!”

    Fortunately, bacopa helps crush stress and anxiety too!

    More specifically, the herb modulates the activity of certain neurotransmitter receptors (especially serotonin), which play a prominent role in mood and stress management. Bacopa increases production of Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH2), an enzyme that is vital to several CNS activities, including the creation of serotonin.[8]

    Bacoside-A back at it

    Bacopa Rat Dopamine 5-HT

    Notice how bacopa monnieri was able to increase levels of dopamine (DA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT).[3]

    Other research notes that Bacoside-A can also prevent dopamine receptor dysfunction,[9] and as well all know, dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that governs pleasure and reward, making it vital to a healthy, happy mood. On top of that, Bacoside-A also has been documented to support GABA activity,[10] thereby preventing anxiety by reducing the activation of neurons that can get overstimulated and lead to stress. Remember, that GABA is the body’s primary inhibitory neurotransmitter, so promoting its actions will help to chill you out.

    The final manner in which bacopa supports mood and combats stress is due to hersaponin, another bioactive compound in bacopa. Hersaponin has been shown to exert a relaxing / sedative-esque effect.[11,12]an alkaloid that has been demonstrated to have a relaxing, sedative-like effect.

  • Increases Learning

    One of bacopa’s biggest benefits is its ability to make learning faster and easier. Research has shown that the herb improves spatial learning, as well as enhance learning capacity while under stress.[13,14,15]

    Anecdotal accounts of those using bacopa for study purposes frequently remark that it’s easier to recall new material and assimilate it as well. While bacopa is useful both acutely and long-term, researchers believe they operate via different mechanisms. For acute benefits, they mostly attribute it to increase cerebral blood flow or energy metabolism as well as acetylcholinesterase inhibition and/or choline acetyltransferase, thereby yielding greater acetylcholine (“the learning neurotransmitter”) levels.[3,16] Long-term benefits of bacopa are linked to an improvement in inflammation and antioxidant status and a reduction in beta-amyloid.[16]

  • Neuroprotection

    Bacopa Neuropsychological Test

    Effect of Bacognize Bacopa monnieri (300 mg/day) on neuropsychological tests (mean scores ± SD).[4] Notice the massive imrovement in the bacopa group vs placebo.

    Cognitive decline and neurological disorders are some of the most devastating things to occur to humans as we age. It’s not a pretty sight to see when a loved one can’t remember names or easily gets confused.

    Bacopa was historically used as a brain tonic, and modern research backs up its efficacy. Studies show that the herb combats neuroinflammation,[17] repairs damaged neurons,[18] and exerts powerful antioxidant effects[19] that protect the brain from all sorts of stressors that impair cognitive function and lead to neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s. Bacopa prevents the buildup of β-amyloid and combats neuroinflammation, which are hallmark signs of brain aging and dementia.[18]

  • Comparable to Pharmaceuticals

    For the ultimate test, researchers decided to pit bacopa (as well as ginseng) against one of the premier pharmaceutical nootropic drugs in Modafinil. Even though the mechanisms of action are different as well as the time it takes for each to take effect, researchers concluded that over the long haul bacopa yielded similar cognitive enhancement as did the prescription drugs.[20]

Basically, with Bacopa Monnieri you’ll experience:

  • Increased attention
  • Better working memory and processing
  • Relieve stress & anxiety
  • Clearer thinking

That’s something we’ll sign up for any day of the week!

Bacognize — the BEST form of Bacopa!

Bacognize Logo

When looking for the best bacopa monnieri extract on the market for cognitive benefits, there’s only one choice — Bacognize.

Generally speaking, Bacopa Monnieri leaf extracts are less potent and typically require a larger dose (~750mg) just to get 10% bacoside yield. While you could do that, we’re in favor of standardized extracts that clearly stated the percentage of bacosides contained in the extract.

Non-Standardized and Proprietary Blends have similar issues

Non-standardized forms of bacopa are used in many of the “popular”, mainstream nootropic supplements, but there are two things to remember:

  1. If they don’t disclose the exact standardization, you might not be getting anywhere near the effective amount of bacosides, and;

  2. A supplement brand can change the product from batch to batch and you wouldn’t even know… until you didn’t feel it “working” as well!

    This is especially true if you see bacopa (or any ingredient) buried in a proprietary blend. Who’s to say they’re not changing the formula between batches to meet cost targets?

Bacognize HPLC Graph

Here’s a High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC) graph showing the concentrations of Bacognize.

The word standardization is for a reason – you want to get the same ingredient at the same strength each and every time. You really think some supplement companies don’t switch their raw materials between batches after they get a call from a cheaper Chinese supplier?

For this reason, we’re big fans of Bacognize® by Verdure Sciences.

Bacognize® is an all natural Bacopa monnieri extract standardized for 45% Bacosides. Studies using Bacognize® demonstrate improved cognitive function, in part due to activation of 5HT(serotonin) receptors which are critical to optimal cognitive function.[4,21] Plus, it’s also been proven to improve memory acquisition and retention in healthy older adults.[21]

Bacognize / Bacopa Dosage – How Much to Take?

Performax Labs NootropiMax

Performax Labs NootropiMax is one of our absolute favorite nootropic formulas for its comprehensive profile and extreme effectiveness.

The research demonstrating Bacognize’s effectiveness use a dosage of 300mg, and that’s what we’re sticking to. Remember, that Bacopa does exert acute effects, as covered above, but it really starts to show its benefits when it’s used long-term, at least 6-8 weeks preferably.

Top Bacopa Monnieri Nootropic Supplements

  • Performax Labs NootropiMax

    NootropiMax is without question one of the favorite nootropic formulas of the PricePlow crew. Not only do you get the full 300mg dose of Bacognize, you also get 250mg CDP-Choline (citicoline), Huperzine, Theacrine, Sceletium Tortuosum, and ~260mg caffeine split between the fast and slow acting anhydrous and Infinergy.

    NootropiMax delivers some extremely pronounced focus and drive to work your tail off, and is about as complete a nootropic supplement as you’ll find that’s also extremely affordable.

    We can’t say enough great things about this formula. It really feels “next-level”, right from the first take!

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Bacopa Monnieri Side Effects: Is it safe?

Bacopa has been studied hundreds of times,[25] in animals and humans, and on the whole is very safe. The only noticeable human side effect has been some modest GI cramping and occasional diarrhea.[16,22]

Stacking Bacopa

Bacopa works mighty fine on its own, but like most other nootropics, can certainly get a boost when paired with one of these:

  • Rhodiola

    Rhodiola Rosea

    Rhodiola Rosea: Our favorite feel-good herb with some additional workout boosting properties

    For the ultimate “chillaxed” focus, stack rhodiola and bacopa together. Rhodiola is another well-known Ayurvedic herb that helps individuals cope and adapt to all sorts of stressors, and when used in conjunction with bacopa should make for some intense, yet controlled focus. You’ll also experience considerably less stress and anxiety too!

    Dosage: 100-300mg Rhodiola (depending on standardization)

  • Choline

    Choline supplements are a staple for us, and pair incredibly well with bacopa due to its acetylcholinesterase-inhibiting properties. Pairing a superior form of choline (Alpha GPC or Citicoline) alongside bacopa helps prevent any headaches and ramp up the effectiveness of bacopa’s cognitive-boosting powers.

    Dosage: 300mg Alpha GPC or 250mg Citicoline

  • Phenibut (the super chill-out stack)

    Phenibut

    Phenibut is a derivative of GABA that exerts extremely powerful relaxation, sleep, and nootropic benefits.

    The Phenibut + Bacopa stack is an interesting one you’ll see some people use if they’re extremely stressed, or need A LOT of help getting to sleep at night. We’ve covered Phenibut in great detail before, and strongly advise caution when using it, as well as using it exceedingly sparingly. Stay away from this one if you have an addictive personality.

  • Caffeine

    You’ll frequently see caffeine as a part of nootropic formulas that also include bacopa. There is some feedback stating that bacopa can “dull” the stimulating effects of caffeine since bacopa does affect dopamine in the striatum. Combining these two may result is less “pop” to your caffeine, but the noticeable increase in focus and energy will still be evident.

    Dosage: 100-300mg caffeine (based on personal preference) or whatever your favorite amount of coffee is.

Takeaway

Bacopa monnieri is one of the best mainstream nootropics that provide a wealth of benefits whether you’re looking for heightened brain function, memory enhancement, or stress relief. It’s incredibly safe, and when used over the long haul can go a long way to ensuring you stay as mentally sharp in your golden years as you are now.

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References

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  2. S. Murthy, M. K. Gautam, Shalini Goel, V. Purohit, H. Sharma, and R. K. Goel, “Evaluation of In Vivo Wound Healing Activity of Bacopa monniera on Different Wound Model in Rats,” BioMed Research International, vol. 2013, Article ID 972028, 9 pages, 2013. doi:10.1155/2013/972028. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2013/972028/cta/
  3. Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research. 2013;16(4):313-326. doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1431. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/
  4. Kumar N, Abichandani LG, Thawani V, Gharpure KJ, Naidu MUR, Venkat Ramana G. Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : eCAM. 2016;2016:4103423. doi:10.1155/2016/4103423. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5075615/
  5. Bhandari P, Kumar N, Singh B, Kaur I. Dammarane triterpenoid saponins from Bacopa monnieri. Can J Chem. 2009;87(9):1230-1234. doi:10.1139/V09-111. http://www.nrcresearchpress.com/doi/abs/10.1139/V09-111#.WdTnA8iGPIV
  6. Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi) Indian J Pharmacol. 1997;29:S359–65. http://www.ijp-online.com/article.asp?issn=0253-7613;year=1997;volume=29;issue=5;spage=359;epage=365;aulast=Singh;type=0
  7. Russo A, Borrelli F. Bacopa monniera, a reputed nootropic plant: an overview. Phytomedicine. 2005;12(4):305-317. doi:10.1016/j.phymed.2003.12.008. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15898709/
  8. Charles PD, Ambigapathy G, Geraldine P, Akbarsha MA, Rajan KE. Bacopa monniera leaf extract up-regulates tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH2) and serotonin transporter (SERT) expression: implications in memory formation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;134(1):55-61. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2010.11.045. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21129470
  9. Thomas RB, Joy S, Ajayan MS, Paulose CS. Neuroprotective potential of Bacopa monnieri and Bacoside A against dopamine receptor dysfunction in the cerebral cortex of neonatal hypoglycaemic rats. Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2013;33(8):1065-1074. doi:10.1007/s10571-013-9973-0. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23975094
  10. Mathew J, Balakrishnan S, Antony S, Abraham PM, Paulose C. Decreased GABA receptor in the cerebral cortex of epileptic rats: effect of Bacopa monnieri and Bacoside-A. Journal of Biomedical Science. 2012;19(1):25. doi:10.1186/1423-0127-19-25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3306740/
  11. Malhotra CK, Das PK. Pharmacological studies of Herpestis monniera Linn (Brahmi). Ind J Med Res 1959;47:294-305 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/13664331
  12. Gohil K, Patel J. A review on Bacopa monniera: Current research and future prospects. Int J Green Pharm. 2010;4(1):1. doi:10.4103/0973-8258.62156. http://greenpharmacy.info/index.php/ijgp/article/viewFile/111/154
  13. Vollala VR, Upadhya S, Nayak S. Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn. (brahmi) extract on learning and memory in rats: A behavioral study. J Vet Behav Clin Appl Res. 2017;5(2):69-74. doi:10.1016/j.jveb.2009.08.007. http://www.journalvetbehavior.com/article/S1558-7878%2809%2900340-2/abstract
  14. Agrawal A, Gupta U, Dixit SP, Dubey GP. Changes in brain biogenic amines under the influence of an Ayurvedic drug, Brahmi, and its effect on discrimination learning. Pharmacopsychoecologia 1993;6(1):15-9.
  15. Dubey GP, Pathak SR, Gupta BS. Combined effect of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)and Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) on cognitive functions. Pharmacopsychoecologia 1994;7(3):249-51.
  16. Stough C, Scholey A, Cropley V, et al. Examining the cognitive effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera (CDRI08:  Keenmnd): a review of ten years of research at Swinburne University. J Pharm Pharm Sci. 2013;16(2):254-258. https://journals.library.ualberta.ca/jpps/index.php/jpps/article/view/19609/15279
  17. Rastogi M, Ojha RP, Devi BP, Aggarwal A, Agrawal A, Dubey GP. Amelioration of age associated neuroinflammation on long term bacosides treatment. Neurochem Res. 2012;37(4):869-874. doi:10.1007/s11064-011-0681-1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22198697
  18. Tamara Simpson, Matthew Pase, and Con Stough, “Bacopa monnieri as an Antioxidant Therapy to Reduce Oxidative Stress in the Aging Brain,” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, Article ID 615384, 9 pages, 2015. doi:10.1155/2015/615384. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2015/615384/
  19. Pandareesh MD, Anand T, Bhat PV. Cytoprotective propensity of Bacopa monniera against hydrogen peroxide induced oxidative damage in neuronal and lung epithelial cells. Cytotechnology. 2016;68(1):157-172. doi:10.1007/s10616-014-9767-3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4698260/
  20. Neale, C., Camfield,D., Reay, J, Stough, C. & Scholey, A. Cognitive effects of two nutraceuticals Ginseng and Bacopa benchmarked against modafinil: a review and comparison of effect sizes. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 2013; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23043278
  21. Calabrese C, Gregory WL, Leo M, Kraemer D, Bone K, Oken B. 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. 2008;14(6):707-713. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0018. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153866/
  22. Morgan A, Stevens J. Does Bacopa monnieri improve memory performance in older persons? Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(7):753-759. doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0342. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480
  23. Benson S, Downey LA, Stough C, Wetherell M, Zangara A, Scholey A. An acute, double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over study of 320 mg and 640 mg  doses of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on multitasking stress reactivity and mood. Phytother Res. 2014;28(4):551-559. doi:10.1002/ptr.5029. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23788517
  24. Sheikh N, Ahmad A, Siripurapu KB, Kuchibhotla VK, Singh S, Palit G. Effect of Bacopa monniera on stress induced changes in plasma corticosterone and  brain monoamines in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2007;111(3):671-676. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.01.025. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17321089
  25. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=Bacopa%5BTitle%2FAbstract%5D

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