India is known for holistic health practices and bacopa monnieri is one supplement that epitomizes this characteristic. Children in Indian villages are still fed bacopa monnieri to improve their cognitive abilities and it isn’t only due to folklore.
Scientists have studied bacopa monnieri extensively and even the most rigorous meta analysis shows significant memory enhancing effects on adults . Bacopa is considered an “adaptogen”, which helps to reduce the amount and effects of stress and anxiety in the body. This translates to higher cognitive performance and learning ability.
Bacopa monnieri is a fat-soluble nootropic, which means it should be taken with fat for maximum absorption. Children in India use ghee (clarified butter) in order to get the most from this cognitive enhancer. The side effects of bacopa monnieri are relatively rare and mild, which makes it a great starting point for those tentative with nootropics.
Also Known As
Brahmi, Aindri, Lysimachia monnieri L. Cent., Graticola monnieri L., Herpestis monniera L. Kunth., Water hyssop, Thyme-leafed gratiola, Indian Pennywort, Jalabrahmi
Editors’ Thoughts on Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa is a great way to start off with nootropics and I would wholeheartedly recommend this for anyone who is highly cautious or skeptical about how smart drugs can help.
I don’t really struggle from anxiety anymore, but at one point in my life bacopa monnieri would have been great for me (in high school particularly). Everyone struggles with anxiety or being self-conscious at some point in their lives and usually drugs are NOT a long-term solution. However, bacopa monnieri is an herbal remedy that isn’t nearly as strong or problematic as prescription drugs for depression.
I’ll put it this way: if my children were struggling with things, I would give them bacopa monnieri without question. It’s been used that way for literally thousands of years and modern science now backs it up.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
History of Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri was probably one of the first plants discovered and used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic medicine simply because it requires no processing . Over 3000 years ago (or more), tribal people must have started experimenting with the plants around them and found bacopa monnieri to be a powerful tool to enhance their cognitive abilities.
While these ancestors did not have the tools at their disposal to test whether bacopa monnieri was working or not, they found through trial and error that many people responded well to the plant. Thus, this creeping marsh plant became one of the more popular tools for improving brain health no matter what level of society one came from.
Even today, Indians from small villages have access and use bacopa monnieri in order to improve brain health from a young age.
Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri
The benefits of bacopa monnieri are manifold and well-studied. While there is no such thing as a “magic pill” (or limitless pill), bacopa monnieri impacts many aspects of the brain that are beneficial.
Memory enhancement is the most well-known benefit of bacopa monnieri. Many studies suggest the memory improvements take up to 4 – 6 weeks before taking full effect, but when they do the results are significant . One study looked at subjects with age-related memory impairment and found a dosage of 125 mg to sufficiently improve “various parameters of memory”. 
Another benefit of bacopa is as an “anxiolytic”, which means anti-anxiety. Studies suggest it is not a highly potent anxiety-reducer, but works sufficiently to help improve mental performance (such as during a big test!) A study of people over 65 found significant improvements in anxiety and less depression with a 12 week regimen of bacopa monnieri .
While it might seem paradoxical given the anxiety relief, bacopa monnieri benefits also include enhanced attention and focus. One study of patients with attention deficit disorder (ADD) noted improved attention . These effects may be mild and one study noted the increased attention was due to less distraction on other information. Yet, this could be a powerful tool for overall cognitive enhancement when undergoing rigorous mental tasks.
We would be remiss without mentioning the benefit of peace of mind and safety that comes with bacopa monnieri. While there are side effects to watch out for (which will be described below), in general most people react well to this basic plant.
How Does Bacopa Monnieri Work?
Bacopa monnieri has specific compounds within the plant that significantly impact brain function. One of these is called a bacoside (A and B), which is one of the main psychoactive compounds in the plant .
One way bacopa monnieri works is as a modulator of brain chemicals called dopamine and acetylcholine . These impact pathways that influence memory (acetylcholine), concentration, and others.
While the primary mechanism of action (how bacopa monnieri works) is not fully known, one theory describes added blood (and oxygen) flow to the brain. This and an increase of “dendrites” (nerve endings) allows neurons in the brain to connect and communicate quicker .
Each person’s individual brain chemistry will interact differently with bacopa monnieri and thus work in different ways. These are some of the basic ways in which the herb improves cognition, but you may find it quite different than others.
Bacopa Monnieri Side Effects
The side effects of bacopa monnieri are rare and mild. People record feeling nausea and cramps due to interactions with the gastrointestinal tract. This sometimes can usually be solved by taking bacopa with food in order to help absorption and avoid an upset stomach.
Because bacopa can reduce anxiety and improve relaxation, it also has the effect of creating drowsiness, muscular fatigue, and lethargy in some people. Anecdotally, this can be remedied by using a stimulant (such as caffeine) in addition to bacopa monnieri.
Other than those issues, a small percentage of males experience reduced fertility when taking bacopa monnieri for 28 – 56 days . None of the above-mentioned issues are common, but worth keeping conscious when taking the supplement.
Bacopa Monnieri Dosage
Dosage recommendations vary depending on the bacoside content and whether you are consuming leaf, powder, etc. The standard bacopa monnieri dosage is 300 mg if you assume 55% bacosides A and B by weight.
Doses of 750 – 1500 mg of the leaf or powder are common when bacoside content is 10 – 20%, but most bacopa monnieri for sale online will include the higher percentage of bacosides so you get the maximum effect.
How and Where to Buy Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa monnieri is widely available for purchase both online and in brick and mortar locations. However, there are some safety precautions (as with any consumable) that will keep you more protected and safe. There are also ways to improve the quality of your experience via the right type of products (i.e: proprietary bacopa extraction methods).
While it is not common anymore, some Ayurvedic products that are not thoroughly vetted have traces of heavy metals (such as lead, mercury, and arsenic). These heavy metals can wreak havoc on the system and 20 years ago it was a big problem. Today, there are many legal restrictions through the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (and most others as well) to prevent this from happening.
Still, for this reason it is better to buy bacopa online rather than try to find it in a local brick and mortar location. There are many online bacopa sellers, which use proprietary versions of bacopa monnieri (such as BaCognize), which prevent heavy metals from being a part of the product and have a higher efficacy for cognitive enhancement.
For example, Pure Nootropics uses BaCognize, which has higher quality control standards than others. Nootropedia recommends Pure Nootropics bacopa monnieri because of both the BaCognize product and their commitment to third party testing on many of their products.
Selected Community Experiences
“…every night since I started taking it, I’ve been having dreams constantly and relatively vividly every time I fall asleep.” - springsparow
“Contrary to anecdotal reports, I could definitely feel the bacopa kicking in. It acted almost as a mild downer and a definite anxiolytic. I felt calm, chilled out, and careless. Super dosing bacopa (~800 mg) magnified these acute effects. Many initial reports include drowsiness and upset stomach. Though Bacopa did make me drowsy at first, I can only think of very specific instances with stomach upset which could easily have been as a result of what I ate that day.”  – Tester12311
“I’ve heard that the memory effects take at least 8 weeks to show effect but I’ve been feeling some quite significant changes in my ability to recall events that have happened in the past month. It’s also improved the quality of these memories. This is a very nice effect that is very appreciated because I feel if i stick it out for another month my memory will improve noticeably.“ - YoungRedPiller
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