Bacopa monnieri, also named Bacopa monniera or water hyssop, is an adaptogenic herb used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. It has been used for various purposes, from improving cognitive function to reducing anxiety and stress and helping to treat epilepsy and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, up to now, it is one of the most well-known and powerful cognitive enhancers in the field of nootropics.
What exactly are its benefits, how to supplement it, and how long does it take for Bacopa monnieri to work? Read on to find out.
What Is Bacopa Monnieri?
Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) is a plant found in tropical environments. In traditional Indian medicine, it is usually taken for its cognitive enhancement benefits, stress relief, and longevity promotion. [*]
It is an adaptogenic herb known for improving the body’s response to stress we experience. Especially chronic stress can harm our physical and emotional well-being, and adaptogens help us deal with stress better and counteract the potentially harmful effects. [*]
While the primary mechanism of action is not fully understood yet, it is known that it can be related to improving neuron communication by increasing the growth of dendrites. [*] Furthermore, research shows that Bacopa contains powerful antioxidants that positively influence brain function and overall health. [*]
Bacopa monnieri extract consists of active compounds called Bacosides A and B, which are also responsible for improved cognitive function when supplementing with Bacopa.
So, which are the main effects of Bacopa monnieri supplementation?
Bacopa monnieri is well-researched both in animal and human studies. The main benefits of Bacopa are:
It Can Boost Cognitive Function
Bacopa monnieri has been shown to improve cognitive function in healthy people and those with cognitive decline.
For example, one double-blind placebo-controlled study showed that individuals who took Bacopa monnieri for 12 weeks yielded the best results of supplementing it – their information processing speed, learning rate, and memory consolidation improved significantly. [*]
Another study on healthy human subjects showed that supplementing a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract for 12 weeks improved individuals’ working memory, attention, and cognitive processing. [*]
Supplementing with Bacopa improved spatial learning and spatial working memory in mice. [*]
Research also shows that Bacopa can be useful for those with memory impairment. There was a significant improvement in mice with anterograde and retrograde amnesia. [*]
It May Reduce Inflammation
The bad news is that chronic inflammation in the body is associated with many health problems, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
But the good news is that Bacopa can help you decrease or limit inflammation. It suppresses the release of inflammatory cytokines, which reduces inflammation. [*]
Bacopa monnieri has been used to treat many inflammation-related conditions, including asthma and rheumatism. [*] Furthermore, studies show it also has promising effects in reducing neuroinflammation, which seems to be the main culprit for many central nervous system diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder. [*]
In general, research shows promising anti-inflammatory effects of Bacopa monnieri. Still, since there are mainly animal studies available, more studies need to be done to determine the effectiveness of Bacopa monnieri in humans.
It Can Reduce Stress And Anxiety
Bacopa monnieri helps our body build better resistance to stress. As a powerful adaptogen herb, it reduces cortisol levels, the hormone of stress, and helps us reduce anxiety symptoms while also boosting our mood. [*]
Bacopa monnieri may also reduce neuroinflammation associated with psychiatric disorders such as anxiety and depression, so that is another possible mechanism of action through which it reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression. [*]
It Has Antioxidant Effects
Antioxidants are substances that reduce and protect our cells from damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are potentially harmful molecules that, when produced in excess, can cause oxidative stress, damaging the cell membranes and negatively affecting our health. [*]
Oxidative stress, among other health problems, leads to faster age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Bacopa monnieri has been shown to have powerful antioxidant effects and can effectively combat oxidative stress.
Bacosides, the main active compound of Bacopa monnieri protects the brain against oxidative stress and neutralizes free radicals. [*]
Animal studies show the potential of using Bacopa supplements for people suffering from neurodegenerative diseases and cognitive impairment.
One specific study showed that it might reduce damage from oxidative stress and improve memory in rats with Alzheimer’s disease. [*]
It May Reduce ADHD Symptoms
Attention deficit disorder with hyperactivity (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that, in most cases, develops in childhood. The main symptoms of ADHD are inability to focus, hyperactivity and impulsivity, poor learning, and poor executive function.
A discussion about the overdiagnosis of ADHD is present in the psychiatric profession. The most common remedies for ADHD can also have multiple side effects, which is why people often search for alternative treatments. Moreover, in scientific circles, more and more studies are done to determine the effectiveness of specific complementary ways of treatment.
Bacopa monnieri can improve overall cognitive performance, but studies also found it can be effective in managing the symptoms of ADHD.
Studies in children and adolescents with ADHD show promising results in reducing ADHD symptoms. [*]
In one clinical trial in children, it was found that supplementing standardized Bacopa extract for 6 months showed significant enhancement in the symptoms of ADHD. Restlessness, psychiatric and learning problems reduced significantly, and self-control improved. [*]
It Can Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a severe health problem that can lead to cardiovascular disorders.
Studies show that Bacopa is effective not only for brain enhancement but can also stabilize blood pressure levels.
While Bacopa shows promise in stabilizing blood pressure levels, more studies must be done in humans to determine its exact effectiveness.
The exact dosage varies from person to person and should be defined based on your needs.
The standard dosage is 300 mg of quality Bacopa monnieri extract with 55% bacosides (the active compound in Bacopa). If you’re taking Bacopa monnieri with 10-20% bacosides, the recommended dosage is up to 750 mg daily. You can take Bacopa monnieri in capsule, leaf, or powder form.
To improve absorption, the best way to take Bacopa monnieri is with food, preferably with a healthy fat. In traditional Indian medicine, it was taken alongside ghee – a special Indian butter, but you don’t need to take it like that.
The most important thing is that you take it with a meal, and if you can squeeze in some healthy fats, that is even better.
Some people report taking Bacopa monnieri in the morning makes them groggy and tired, while others report no such effects. Try taking it in the morning or the afternoon and see which way feels best for you.
How Long Does It Take To Work?
As mentioned, Bacopa monnieri is an adaptogenic herb, so the best results of taking Bacopa monnieri are not immediately noticeable. It takes at least 4-6 weeks to start noticing the benefits, such as improved memory, cognition, reduced anxiety, and overall well-being.
The best way to make significant improvements in your brain function is to take Bacopa monnieri daily for 8-12 weeks. Some studies show that healthy individuals who took Bacopa monnieri for 12 weeks yielded the best results since their cognitive function improved significantly. [*]
So yes, it takes some time for Bacopa to produce maximal effects, but on the other hand, the cognitive effects and other benefits are long-term. Some people also report the effects lasted for some time even after they stopped supplementing it.
No significant side effects have been reported when supplementing Bacopa. However, you can still experience some side effects of supplementing Bacopa, especially if you don’t take it as recommended. Remember that greater dosage does not necessarily lead to more significant outcomes.
Some possible side effects of supplementing Bacopa are the following:
Bacopa monnieri, a well-known adaptogen herb, is acknowledged not only for cognitive enhancing effects but also for potential benefits to enhance memory and reduce brain fog symptoms and stress and anxiety. Research also shows it can benefit people with mild cognitive impairment and neurodegenerative diseases.
If you are searching for natural alternatives to boost brain function, memory function, or overall cognitive functioning, you should give Bacopa monnieri a try. Keep in mind that you may need to supplement it for at least 4-6 weeks for the best results.