This herb has been used Ayurvedic medicine for generations and is utilized as a treatment for anxiety and memory ailments. It is also utilized as a means of keeping the thyroid healthy. Although this may sound great on paper, the claims are not supported by science.

The purpose of this article is to provide a well-rounded look at Bacopa Monnieri and discuss the uses, side effects, and methods of taking Bacopa.

You may hear the herb referred to as andri, water hyssop, herb of grace, Indian pennywort, or herpestis herb. For the purpose of this article, we will simply use Bacopa. Do not confuse this herb with gotu hola-this is an herb that goes by the name brahmi, another one of Bacopa's monikers.

If you would like to integrate Bacopa into your treatment, be sure that you discuss the herb with a doctor first to see if it's right for you.

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What Are the Health Benefits?

Some findings suggest that Bacopa has antioxidant properties. The herb does contain compounds of saponin, namely bacosides and bacopasides, which are thought to boost the interaction of brain chemicals that are utilized in memory, learning, and cognition. These chemicals also prevent inflammation in the brain.

Let's now take an in-depth look at the seven benefits of Bacopa.

1. Anti-Cancer Properties

Animal studies, as well as test-tube studies, have found that Bacopa could have anti-cancer properties.

Bacosides are helpful compounds in Bacopa that were found to annihilate brain tumor cells and prevent the growth of breast and colon cancer cells in studies performed on test tubes.

On top of this, Bacopa induced the deaths of breast cancer and skin cancer cells during animal and test-tube studies.

Research finding suggest that it is the high antioxidant number of Bacopa that is responsible for its anti-cancer properties.

However, more human studies are needed. 

2. Lower Levels of Blood Pressure

Some research indicates that Bacopa could keep blood pressure at a healthy number.

During one animal study, Bacopa helped reduce diastolic and systolic blood pressure levels. The herb released nitric oxide, which aided in the dilation of the blood vessels and thus resulted in better blood flow and lowered blood pressure.

Despite this significant finding, one study performed over 12 weeks in 54 healthy; older adults discovered that taking 300 mg of Bacopa each day did not affect blood pressure numbers.

Thus, we can infer that Bacopa may aid animals with high blood pressure. However, more human study is needed to confirm if it can help.

3. Aid in Stress and Anxiety Management

Bacopa could help prevent stress and anxiety by helping increase your body’s resistance to stress. It is an adaptogenic herb, after all. 

Research suggests that bacopa aids in reducing anxiety and stress by lowering cortisol levels and boosting your mood. 

One study performed on rodents indicated that Bacopa had anti-anxiety effects that were similar to lorazepam, a medicine often utilized in treating anxiety.

But when it comes to humans, the jury is still out. Two 12 week human studies discovered that taking 300 mg of Bacopa each day reduced anxiety and depression levels of adults in comparison to the placebo.

But another study found that the herb did not affect anxiety. More research is needed.

4. Reduce Symptoms of ADHD

ADHD is a disorder in which those afflicted deal with hyperactivity, inattentive behavior, and impulsivity.

Research suggests that these symptoms can be reduced with Bacopa. One study performed on kids aged 6 to 12 years old discovered that taking 225mg of Bacopa each day for 6 months lowered the symptoms of ADHD significantly. 85% of the kids noted a drop in their impulsivity, restlessness, inattention, and poor sense of self-control.

In another study performed on 120 kids with ADHD noted improved impulse control and cognition, and attention, in comparison to the group given the placebo.

It is, no doubt, exciting if you or someone you love has ADHD, but more research and study is needed to determine if Bacopa could be used as a treatment method.

5. Increase Brain Function

Some studies suggest that Bacopa can help retain memory and boost cognitive function. One study using mice found that using Bacopa as a supplement had a positive effect on the rodents' spatial learning and ability to hold onto information.

That same research also concluded that branching and dendritic learning was improved. Dendrites in the brain are closely connected with memory and learning. 

Another study conducted with 46 adults found that taking 300 mg of Bacopa each day greatly improved the speed at which the subjects processed visual info, their rate of learning, and their memory as compared with the placebo.

In another study, 60 elderly adults were tested for 12 weeks. The findings were that taking 300 or 600 mg of Bacopa each day had a positive effect on memory, attention, and information processing as compared with those in the placebo.

In one report which was published by the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, researchers performed an analysis of nine previous studies that assessed Bacopa's effect upon cognitive functionality. In the study's conclusion, the researchers said that Bacopa's got potential to boost cognition, but that it is necessary to conduct trials that are large and well-designed and can fairly compare the supplement to medication.

One earlier report reviewed studied that had been previously published on the herb for cognitive performance and discovered that some evidence that suggested bacopa extract could improve memory as evidenced during free-recall exercises. 

A 2016 study of 60 college students performed over six weeks left researchers with some exciting findings: Twice-daily bacopa treatments of a total of 300 mg led to greater scores on tests that were tied to cognitive function.

6. Lower Levels of Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s way of healing and warding off disease. However, constant low levels of inflammation are connected to chronic conditions like diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. 

In one study conducted in test tubes, Bacopa was found to quash the release of inflammatory cytokines. These are molecules that promote an inflammatory immune response.

Other test-tube studies and animal studies showed that the herb inhibiting enzymes such as caspases, lipoxygenases, and cyclooxygenases are key players in pain and inflammation.

Even though these findings are quite positive, more studies are needed to figure out whether or not Bacopa has a positive effect on inflammation in human beings.

7. Loaded with Helpful Antioxidants

Antioxidants are needed to help your body fight against cell damage that is caused by free radicals. Damage by free radicals has been connected to chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.

However, Bacopa possesses active compounds that could have antioxidant effects.

Bacosides, for instance, have shown they can neutralize free radicals.  They also prevent fat molecules from interacting with free radicals. 

It matters because when fat molecules react to free radicals, a process called lipid peroxidation happens. This process is connected to conditions like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's. Rats with dementia were treated with Bacopa and were found to have lower levels of free radical damage.

Despite these wonderful findings, only a few studies have put the health effects of Bacopa to the test. Research that has been performed with this herb puts a spotlight on treating or preventing numerous health problems.

What About Anxiety?

Some studies indicate that Bacopa could be used to change the enzyme activity that is involved in the body's response to stress. The idea is that Bacopa could be used to prepare the brain to cope when it is stressed out. 

Take, for example, this study performed in 2014: Researchers discovered positive cognitive and mood outcomes as well as lowered levels of cortisol in those using Bacopa.

How to Use Bacopa?

You may purchase Bacopa in capsules or tablets. Bacopa may be found online or at a local vitamin or health store.

It is important to remember that there is not enough evidence available to establish what is an appropriate dose for this supplement. To figure out a dose that is appropriate for you depends on a plethora of factors such as gender, health status, age, and more. 

Thus, it is important to consult with a doctor before beginning the use of Bacopa to ensure it is not going to cause you harm in any way.

What Are the Side Effects?

So far, taking Bacopa seems excellent. However, there are a few side effects you should know about before taking the supplement:

  • Increase in bowel movements
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Bloat
  • Stomach Cramping
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth

Calcium levels in your blood may also increase, suggests one clinical trial which can be found here. Neurotransmitters like dopamine, GABA, and serotonin may also be affected.

Are There Any Contraindications or Interactions Associated with Bacopa?

Currently, the world lacks research on whether or not Bacopa interacts with prescriptions or other medicines, including ones that act upon neurotransmitters.  However, interactions could take place with medications that are:

  • Altered by the liver,
  • Medicines for Alzheimer’s, 
  • Anticholinergic drugs
  • Cholinergic drugs, thyroid hormones, 
  •  Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors.

At this time, we do not know of interactions between food and Bacopa, Bacopa, and other herbs, or Bacopa and other supplements.

It is advised that pregnant women do not use Bacopa as there are no studies available about safe usage during pregnancy. Studies performed on animals suggest reduced fertility when Bacopa is used.

Are There Any Supplement Concerns?

It is important to remember that many bacopa supplements, and other supplements, for that matter, are not tested for safety. Supplements are quite often unregulated. The content of the supplement could vary from what you read on the label.

One study, for instance, noted that raised levels of cadmium, zinc, and copper and lead were found, and advised Bacopa be tested for metal content before being put into herbal supplements.

Wrapping It Up

In sum, here are the key things to remember: 

  • Bacopa is an Ayurvedic herb that is thought to be helpful for many afflictions. 
  • Studies in humans show promising results, including a boost in brain function, better management of ADHD, and lower levels of stress and anxiety.
  • Studies on animals and test tubes show that it can help reduce inflammation and blood pressure and that it may have anti-cancer properties.

But the most important thing to keep in mind is that this herb has not been researched extensively enough to understand the totality of effects on human beings. As a result, you should consult with a doctor to determine if this herb is for you.

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