Bacopa, the plant that improves your memory

This plant is also known as water hyssop, thyme-leafed gratiola, herb of grace or Indian pennywort. In the scientific world, it is also given its Tamil name: brahmi.

What is Bacopa?

Bacopa or brahmi (Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst.), is a climbing herbaceous plant that lives in damp areas such as wetlands and marshes, ponds or gardens. It has many stems and its leaves are rounded, firm and succulent. Its flowers are small, with white or slightly purple petals. The plant commonly grows in Asian countries such as India, Vietnam, Nepal, Sri Lanka and China. It can also be found in some southern states of the USA, like Florida. This plant has been found in Europe since the eighteenth century, thanks to the explorers and scientists of that time. In Asian countries it has been used in Indian medicine – Ayurveda – since ancient times, to improve memory and brain function.

Benefits of bacopa

In recent decades, scientific studies show that, among other benefits, bacopa monnieri extract may have a neuroprotective effect1, thanks to its possible impact on cognitive dysfunction1. It has also been found to contribute to normal blood circulation, linked with brain performance2, contains a large number of natural antioxidants3, and may help alleviate stress, which is important for healthy sleep4.

It can help improve concentration and memory2

Bacopa monnieri has long been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for intelligence and memory. And it has been shown that the components of bacopa could help improve concentration and memory2.

Scientific research on the biological effects of this plant has flourished in recent years, increasingly supporting its neuroprotective and memory-enhancing capacity, among other benefits1. This has made it possible to understand the mechanism that supports the reduction of oxidative stress and other mechanisms influenced by bacopa molecules that help maintain good cognitive function2.

It could have a positive effect on the brain system4

The components of this plant may have a positive effect on the brain system4, as it helps peripheral blood microcirculation and contributes to normal blood circulation, which is associated with brain performance2. In fact, Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional Indian system, uses this plant as a nootropic, that is, it stimulates memory and enhances cognitive development5.

This means that bacopa is an important ingredient in many Ayurvedic formulations designed for memory loss, anxiety and loss of concentration6. With this in mind, recent scientific studies have looked with great interest at the possible anti-inflammatory effect of bacopa on the brain. More specifically, some research has examined its ability to inhibit the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines – immune system proteins – from immune cells in the brain7.

The results showed that bacopa tea, infusion and extracts significantly inhibited the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, and that components of the bacopa plant inhibit enzymes associated with inflammation in the brain5.

Helps memory performance2

It has been shown that bacopa could also help maintain memory performance8. Given the positive influence of bacopa’s components on brain function, research has been carried out that significantly supports the possible beneficial effects of this plant1.

Bacopa’s benefits include helping to maintain memory and preserve cognitive function, both of which are affected by ageing2.

Given that you are more likely to start losing this capacity after a certain age9, some studies have aimed to clarify whether this benefit can be seen in older people.

A trial in this area was carried out in Australia in 200510 and the result was that participants showed a significant improvement in verbal learning and memory acquisition after being given an extract of bacopa monnieri9. After several weeks, they were evaluated through neuropsychological, visual and audio-verbal memory tests. This study concluded that bacopa significantly improved memory acquisition and retention in the healthy older Australian population9, which is consistent with previous findings and with this plant’s traditional use.

Source of antioxidant compounds

Bacopa contains a large number of natural antioxidants3, which help protect the brain from radicals that can cause cell damage3, 10. This statement is supported by studies on the neuroprotective effect of bacopa monnieri on cell death11.

These studies collect data showing that bacopa extract may protect neurons from cell death and suggest that it restricts oxidative stress. According to this research, the neuroprotective effects seem to be the result of the antioxidants contained in the plant, which suppress neuronal oxidative stress3. Studies conclude that bacopa extract may be an alternative way to manage neurodegenerative disorders associated with overwhelming oxidative stress3.

Consuming bacopa monnieri therefore helps to boost antioxidants, which in turn help protect brain cells and tissues from oxidative damage10.

Bacopa for sleep

Another benefit attributed to bacopa monnieri is that it may help alleviate and prevent stress, which is important for healthy sleep4.

Gallbladder health

In terms of bacopa’s benefits for the digestive system, this plant helps with healthy functioning of the gallbladder12. The gallbladder is part of the extrahepatic biliary system where bile is stored and concentrated. Bile is a liquid made in the liver and is essential for digesting fats, excreting cholesterol, and it even has antimicrobial effects13

Bacopa for studying

Bacopa also has the effect of helping with attention span and memory7, making this plant an ally for those studying or preparing for exams or qualifications.

Bacopa naturally helps support good cognitive and memory function7. As well as aiding the memory capacity of the cognitive system, it supports focus and learning7.

The positive effects that bacopa may have on the brain system are also associated with improvements in short- and long-term memory4. It may also improve concentration and, with it, intelligence4.

bacopa monnieri

Another great advantage of taking bacopa while studying is the improvement in the ability to concentrate, retain and acquire information7. This is vitally important when it comes to memorising, understanding or learning new facts and taking practical or written exams.

When and how to take bacopa?

As you can see from this article, the components of bacopa monnieri have a positive effect on the brain system4 and help support memory capacity8, improve retention and concentration8, and help to protect the brain from cell damage caused by radicals3, among other benefits.

We can therefore conclude that when you are faced with a task requiring concentration, intensity and mental agility, a supplement containing bacopa components will be beneficial, as long as you always follow the prescribed indications.

We can also see the benefits of bacopa when faced with intense periods at work requiring a high level of concentration on the task at hand, when we feel mentally fatigued, or when we experience low moods. When taking exams, or for those dealing with stressful situations while studying, working or learning, it will help with day-to-day tasks.

Buy bacopa as a supplement

If you are experiencing any of these situations, Anastore has just the supplement you may need: ’Pro Concentration’. This is a nootropic formula with standardised extracts of Choline, Rhodiola Rosea, Bacopa Monnieri, Brewer’s Yeast and Caffeine. It is recommended for maintaining concentration and mental energy.

Another supplement that may help to support your concentration levels during these periods is ‘Ginseng (Cereboost™) + Bacopa monnieri’, with standardised extracts, which is recommended to help maintain your concentration and strengthen your memory.

To find out about the benefits of Ginseng we recommend this article from the Anastore blog: ’Organic red ginseng: boost your health and energy with this ancient Korean root’.

Sources

  1. Sukumaran NP, Amalraj A, Gopi S. Neuropharmacological and cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst - A review on its mechanistic aspects. Complement Ther Med. 2019 Jun;44:68-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2019.03.016. Epub 2019 Mar 30. PMID: 31126578.
  2. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 3986).
  3. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 4324).
  4. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 2650).
  5. Abu-Izneid T, Rauf A, Khalil AA, Olatunde A, Khalid A, Alhumaydhi FA, Aljohani ASM, Sahab Uddin M, Heydari M, Khayrullin M, Shariati MA, Aremu AO, Alafnan A, Rengasamy KRR. Nutritional and health beneficial properties of saffron (Crocus sativus L): a comprehensive review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2020 Dec 17:1-24. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2020.1857682. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 33327732. 
  6. Hosseinzadeh H. Saffron: a herbal medicine of third millennium. Jundishapur J Nat Pharm Prod. 2014 Feb;9(1):1-2. doi: 10.17795/jjnpp-16700. Epub 2014 Feb 20. PMID: 24644431; PMCID: PMC3957135.
  7. Nemetchek MD, Stierle AA, Stierle DB, Lurie DI. The Ayurvedic plant Bacopa monnieri inhibits inflammatory pathways in the brain. J Ethnopharmacol. 2017 Feb 2;197:92-100. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2016.07.073. Epub 2016 Jul 26. PMID: 27473605; PMCID: PMC5269610.
  8. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 3268).
  9. Foster TC. Biological markers of age-related memory deficits: treatment of senescent physiology. CNS Drugs. 2006;20(2):153-66. doi: 10.2165/00023210-200620020-00006. PMID: 16478290.
  10. 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 Jul;16(7):753-9. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0342. PMID: 20590480.
  11. Limpeanchob N, Jaipan S, Rattanakaruna S, Phrompittayarat W, Ingkaninan K. Neuroprotective effect of Bacopa monnieri on beta-amyloid-induced cell death in primary cortical culture. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008 Oct 30;120(1):112-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2008.07.039. Epub 2008 Aug 5. PMID: 18755259.
  12. Extracted from the European Commission compilation list, under EFSA validation (ID 4361).
  13. Jones MW, Small K, Kashyap S, et al. Physiology, Gallbladder. [Updated 2020 Jun 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-.