Bacopa monnieri is traditional Ayurvedic medicinal herb grown in India. It has been widely touted as a brain booster with other positive effects such as reduction of anxiety. Often called water hyssop, it is a popular plant used in aquariums.
The herb contains many active components including alkaloids and saponins (that form a soapy froth when shaken in a water solution). Most people recognize the saponins Bacosides A and B as the most significant components.
Bacopa monnieri is marketed by many supplement manufacturers which use a variety of phrases to describe its effects. Some of these marketing slogans include:
- Optimize your brain power
- Supports memory enhancement & learning
- Supports memory, enhances mental performance
- Brain & memory support
- Mental focus
- Support cognitive function and brain health
- Mental alertness
- Excellent rejuvenative for the mind
- Benefits congnitive functions
These claims make it seem like you should start taking bacopa monnieri before your next algebra test or your final exams to make sure you get a high grade. After all, you want every advantage possible to succeed in life.
But, what do the scientific studies show about the benefits of bacopa monnieri? Are these marketing slogans simply hype that over-promise what you can really expect?
Scientific Studies of Bacopa Monnieri
Human scientific studies of bacopa monnieri almost always provide subjects with enough capsules to last 12 weeks. It seems to take 12 weeks, 3 months, for bacopa to show an effect. Some studies last longer to see the residual effects.
The dose used is normally that recommended by the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI), a premier drug research institute of India. This dose is often 300 mg for persons under 90 kg (190 pounds), and 450 mg for persons over 90 kg. This is equivalent to 6g and 9g of dried rhizome.
Most double-blind placebo-controlled studies work with 50 to 100 test subjects. These studies are not conducted by large pharmaceutical manufactures who can afford to run trials with thousands of subjects. This herb is not going to generate billions of dollars of profit for the pharmaceutical industry.
The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects is a study that was reported in the journal Psychopharmacology.
Forty-six healthy volunteers (11 males and 35 females) were recruited for the study. There were randomly dividied into two groups, one taking B. monniera (300 mg) daily and the other group taking an identical looking placebo.
All members of the trial underwent an initial 30 minute test of memory skills. They were then given the bottles of capsules there were to take for 12 weeks. The subjects were tested again after 5 weeks and after 12 weeks.
These tests were standard tests of “attention, short-term memory, verbal learning, memory consolidation, executive processes, planning and problem solving, information processing speed, motor responsiveness, and decision making.”
There were no significant differences between the groups after 5 weeks. But, after 122 weeks, the group taking bacopa monnieri showed significant positive effects in the follow areas:
- Improved speed of visual information processing
- Learning rate
- Memory consolidation
- Decrease in forgetting rate
- Decrease in anxiety
The reseachers concluded that “the current finding suggests that B. monniera may improve higher order cognitive processes that are critically dependent on the input of information from our environment such as learning and memory.”
Another study was reported in the article Chronic Effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on Human Memory which was published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.
This study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled study. The study began with 84 healthy volunteers, of which 76 adults, 28 males and 48 females, between 40 and 65 years of age completed the study. These volunteers were tested for an hour on various memory functions prior to the trial, after the 3 month trial, and again 6 weeks later.
At the end of the 3 month trial period the Bacopa group showed significantly better performance on delayed recall of word pairs over the placebo group. The testing 6 weeks after the trial showed no significant differences between the groups.
The reseachers conclude that “the effect appears to be a reduction in the amount of information lost from memory.”
Another study investigated the Effects of a Standardized Bacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial and was published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.
This two-group randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial study recruited 54 participants aged 65 and older who lived independently with no signs of dementia. Forty-eight volunteers completed the study, with 24 participants in the Bacopa and plecabo groups. The Bacopa group took 300 mg per day of B. monnieri extract while the placebo group took a similar looking capsule. The Bacopa tablet contained the equivalent of about 15 g of herb and 150 mg of the bascosides A nad B.
The primary interest was in delayed recall of verbal information. Other tests were also included such as the Stroop task of recognized incongruous stimuli (such as recognizing the word green when it is printed in red).
The intervention (trial) involved 12 weeks of taking the B. monnieri or placebo.
The group taking Bacopa showed significantly improvement in the memory recall task and shortened reaction times in the Stroop test compared to the placebo group. In addition, the Bacopa group showed a decrease in depression and anxiety compared to the placebo group.
The researchers concluded that “this study provides further evidence that standardized extracts of B. monnieri have potential for safely enhancing cognitive performance in aging.”
Bacopa Monnieri: Amazing And Proven Herb For Memory
In this video Dr Meschino explains how bacopa monnieri is proven to improve memory in various types of memory-challenged patient studies. For more information from Dr Meschino Click Here.
Research studies show bacopa monnieri has positive effects on short term memory retention. Other benefits include recognizing information when presented in new or novel ways (incongruous information) and reduces depression and anxiety. These effects typically take 12 weeks to become apparent.
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