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.
Bacopa Monnieri is Also Known As
Brahmi, Aindri, Lysimachia monnieri L. Cent., Graticola monnieri L., Herpestis monniera L. Kunth., Water hyssop, Thyme-leafed gratiola, Indian Pennywort, Jalabrahmi
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.
Bacopa monnieri, also called Brahmi, or the “herb of grace,” is a plant thought to be so beneficial to the mind that it’s been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine in India for centuries. In traditional Ayurvedic treatments bacopa has been the go-to treatment for epilepsy, asthma, ulcers, tumors, inflammation, and even leprosy.
Bacopa monnieri was initially described around 6th century A.D. in texts such as the Charaka Samhita, Atharva-Veda, and Susrut Samhita as a “Medhya rasayana” taken to sharpen intellect and attenuate mental deficits. The herb was allegedly used by ancient Vedic scholars to memorize lengthy sacred hymns and scriptures.
It’s recent Western popularity is it’s brain-boosting alternative treatment to psychotropic drugs. Supporters of holistic living are finding that Bacopa monnieri can be used to successfully treat Alzheimer’s disease, memory loss, anxiety, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder.
For the pro-active approach, it’s also a great supplement used for longevity and cognitive enhancement. It’s an adaptogen that helps the body manage stress and it’s long term effects on the body.
The science behind this little wonder herb has to do with its main mechanism of promoting neuron communication. It does this by enhancing the rate at which the nervous system communicates by increasing the growth of nerve endings. The is one key to longevity, as research has found that the older we get, the shorter those nerve ending become.
This recent science is pointing to bacopa monnieri as one of the most powerful and natural nootropic substances you can find.
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.
Here’s a list of other potential benefits, but may not be experienced by everyone.
- Prevent Heart Disease
- Help other Neurodegenerative Conditions: Huntington’s, Parkinson’s
- Help Cognitive Decline in Schizophrenia
- Reduce Bronchitis/Asthma
- Balance The Immune System
- Used as an Anti-Diabetic
- Used as an Antimicrobial
- May Help Prevent Cancer
- Helps Protect the Gut
- Has an Antifatigue effect
- Protects the Liver
- Promotes Hair Growth
- Helps With Histamine Intolerance, Respiratory Problems and Allergies
- Protects Against Cigarette Smoke Damage
- Protects the Kidney and is a Diuretic
- Good For Skin Health
- Reduce Morphine Dependence
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 most common side effect with bacopa monnieri is an upset stomach. Taking it on an empty stomach may cause nausea, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea, yuck! Thus it’s advisable to take it with food. Simple easy fix. In most cases, any nausea or belly upset is temporary, and does not interfere with Bacopa benefits.
One of the more mild side effects is that Bacopa monnieri simply takes time to work. Giving your body ample time to adapt to the supplement is key. Studies show improvements are much better at 8-12 weeks than they are at 4-6 weeks.
Some of you are ‘go-getters’ and decide instead to aim high to get even stronger benefits. It’s probably not a good idea to do this. Instead focus on getting the right dose for you. Most people who are trying to use bacopa monnieri to improve their brain health can obtain results with a small or average dose.
This can take some tweaking in order to find the right timing, the right supplemental food, and dosage that works best for your body.
Another mild side effect is drowsiness. Bacopa monnieri can have a slight sedative effect so use caution when combining it with other known sedatives.
Bacopa monnieri rarely produces significant side effects besides upset stomach, however in rare cases, Bacopa use has caused secretions in the lungs, the stomach, and the urinary tract. It can also cause heart rate issues and impotence in some men. These side effects are not the norm, but they can happen.
In extreme cases, some gastrointestinal blockage has occurred in people with pre-existing GI issues.
As a plant, bacopa monnieri is known to accumulate toxic metals like mercury so, depending on where the plant is grown, the levels of mercury or other toxins in its extract might be high. It’s important to purchase bacopa monnieri that’s of high quality.
If you are currently taking any anti-depressants, thyroid medication, or sedatives like Valium, it can be contraindicated. It may intensify the activity of thyroid-stimulating drugs or inhibit the effectiveness of thyroid-suppressant drugs. You can use less amounts and make sure you take at least 2 hours apart from each other.
Bacopa extract is well-tolerated when taken in recommended dosages by mouth for short durations of up to 12 weeks. Check with your doctor before taking bacopa monnieri if you have any medical conditions.
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.
The first thing to keep in mind is that you want to take it AFTER you’ve already got some food in your belly. Don’t say we didn’t warn you – if you’ve done your research, you’ll know that most all reports of the nausea side effect are from people who took Bocopa on an empty stomach.
Bacopa is fat soluble and is traditionally taken with ghee (clarified butter). It’s available in several forms, including powder, capsule, tea and syrup. According to the Alternative Medicine Review, recommended daily dosages are:
- 5–10 grams of non-standardized powder
- 8–16 milliliters of infusion
- 30 milliliters of syrup (Brahmi).
- 5–12 milliliters per day for adults and 2.5–6 milliliters per day for children ages 6–12 of a 1:2 fluid extract
- 200–400 milligrams in divided doses for adults and 100–200 milligrams daily in divided doses for children of extracts standardized to 20 percent bacosides A and B
Another unique option of bringing Bacopa into your daily regime is Bacopa Tea. You won’t get the jitters of traditional caffeine drinks, but you’ll likely get an uplifting and relaxing effect. To make tea you can add a few fresh leaves or a good pinch of dried bacopa to one cup of boiled water and allow them to steep for up to 10 minutes. One study indicates that the use of the fresh plant material maximizes the concentration of its active saponins.
These are the recommended doses, however you can find several people in different forums across the net who share their experiences with much higher doses and some who take less. One of the complaints some people have is that due to it’s adaptogenic nature, it can take some time to feel the effects. As with any natural supplement, it’s up to the user to determine what works best for them and take it long enough for the body to utilize and adjust to its beneficial properties.
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
Hear What People Are Saying About the Brain Boosting Effects of Bacopa
Curious about the brain boosting wonder herb Bacopa? This herb goes by many different names including Andri, Bacopa Monnieri, Herb of Grace and Hysope. It’s been used in India for centuries to treat a variety of conditions from dandruff to sleep disorders.
Read first hand experience from others who share their story:
My initial experience with Bacopa was pleasantly relaxing. I felt a little buzzed, tired, and my inhibitions generally low anyways, completely disappeared. When I would hang out with friends I would feel as though I was little drunk, and I often felt a subtle body high or euphoria. My dreams were incredibly vivid. I would fall asleep instantly, and wake up with what felt like lifetimes of incredibly vivid and exciting dreams every morning.
John Medeiros from Toronto Canada:
I purchased this Item for memory problems that I'am experiencing. It has been about a month's time since I started taking BACOPA, and at first nothing seemed to be happening to my mind. Now I can remember almost everything back to when I started bacopa, including places,peoples faces,and dreams. This is positive sign for me, being that I'am 54 years young. There is one small side affect with this, now this may only be very isolated case. I feel a very low type of sedation, nothing that can affect daytime activities. The other good side affect is that it is controlling my anger problems associated with getting off of Paxil an anti-depression medication.
Anonymous, Great Product:
This is a really effective nervine (relaxant in non-herbal jargon!), de-stresser and general mind-booster. I've tried tons of other herbs (valerian, passionflower) to deal with forgetfulness and general anxiety, but this blows the rest out of the water. Very effective, but I'd reccomend taking two pills for the more stressed times. Excellent product from an excellent company.
Anonymous, Major Depressant:
This relaxed me a lot but made me depressed. I had high hopes but couldn't handle the depression. I have bipolar disorder and felt that it worked like some anti-convulsant and anti-psychotic medications that I've taken. Kind of a cross between Depakote and Zyprexa. I've never had such a strong reaction with an herb before. Someone should do some serious studies on this.
Not like it is turning me into a real (or imagined…) genius but rather it´s giving me a stable good mood, more goal oriented thoughts, a relaxed way of reasoning, more friendly, social and positive in general.
Anonymous, Works Great:
I take it, my son & grandson take it and it works for all of us. My son is autistic and ADD, my grandson is ADD and I do see a difference in their capacity to learn and retain what they've learned. My son is a straight A student, and my grandson has shown a lot of improvement in school. I also give him the Attentive child's vitamin and Learning Factors. It is making a huge difference in his growth. My son & I also take Brain Speed with the Bacopa. I am glad to say we are alert all day and have no trouble sleeping at night. It takes a little while to see the difference, but you will. Give it a good month or two and you will notice a difference too. I took it because I started a new job in a new career field and it has helped me to learn it easier and faster than the other woman who was there a month before me. I'm sold! And I make sure we never run out!
Josma, 55-64 Male on Treatment for less than 1 month:
When ever I have the problem of memory I take Brahmi or Bacopa capsules of Himalaya or some other Indian company.I take one 500mg capsule in between food time.I am 59 year old.After using for one week I get the result of improved memory. If capsules are not available I buy liquid extract of Bacopa and take 10 drops in 150 ml water. Then along with memory,I get strong sexual erections also. These are not new experience. Since 5 years I use this. But I will not take Bacopa for more than one month in one go. After few months again when memory problem affects I will again take it. I have noticed no other side effects.
Ichbin, 19-24 Female on Treatment for less than 1 month:
The supplement has been doing wonders for me, this year has been tough – personal life and a challenging academic year, and I also have the worst memory and attention span. I hadn't studied a section for an important economics exam (it was a graph with an explanation) – 10 minutes before the exam was the first time I saw the graph and explanation. I just missed an A for the exam and that question made up 25% of the marks – I didn't forget the content, the labels and nor did I panic about the exam. This year's content has been the most challenging (4th year of varsity) yet my marks are looking great. I started taking brahmi this year and I'm never looking back. My results: less anxiety, improved memory and attention span, no side effect
Author’s 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.
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