Bacopa

Plant Part Used

Leaf

Active Constituents

Steroidal saponins (including bacosides A1, A3, B, C and D, E and F). (1) , (2) , (3)

[span class=alert]This section is a list of chemical entities identified in this dietary supplement to possess pharmacological activity. This list does not imply that other, yet unidentified, constituents do not influence the pharmacological activity of this dietary supplement nor does it imply that any one constituent possesses greater influence on the overall pharmacological effect of this dietary supplement.[/span]

Introduction

Bacopa or water hyssop, is a plant used since approximately the sixth century A.D. in the traditional Ayurvedic Medical System of India as an extract with cognition-enhancing benefits. Termed “Brahmi" in the Hindu language Sanskrit, Bacopa is considered to be the foremost tonic for the nervous system in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been traditionally used for epilepsy, mental illness and to improve memory and mental capacities.(4) The saponin compounds (bacosides) are attributed with the capability to enhance nerve impulse transmission and thereby strengthen memory and general cognition.

Interactions and Depletions

Interactions

Dosage Info

Dosage Range

50-150mg (standardized extract), 3 times a day.

Most Common Dosage

100mg (standardized extract), 2 times a day.

Standardization

[span class=doc]Standardization represents the complete body of information and controls that serve to enhance the batch to batch consistency of a botanical product, including but not limited to the presence of a marker compound at a defined level or within a defined range.[/span]

The most current available medical and scientific literature indicates that this dietary supplement should be standardized to 20% bacosides A and B per dose.

Uses

Frequently Reported Uses

  • Anti-Fatigue (Physical And Mental), Concentration
  • Increase Concentration, Mental Function
  • Neuroprotective
Other Reported Uses
  • Antioxidant
  • Epilepsy
  • Anxiety

Toxicities & Precautions

General

Bacopa is reported safe in recommended dosages.

Pregnancy/ Breast Feeding

If pregnant or nursing, consult a physician before use.

Age Limitations

Do not use in children under 2 years of age unless recommended by a physician.

Pharmacology

Cognitive Enhancing activity

Bacopa has been reported to improve cognitive function and increase learning ability in laboratory animals and human subjects.(5),(15),(16) In a brightness-discrimination reaction, Bacopa improved acquisition, retention, and delayed loss of the new behavior. In a continuous avoidance response, Bacopa-treated animals learned more quickly and were fully adapted after 20 days whereas controls had not adapted. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial evaluated the cognitive enhancing effects of a Bacopa extract in healthy human volunteers. After 12 weeks, the findings indicated that the extract may improve cognitive processes, such as learning and memory.(6) In a double-blind randomized, placebo control study, 76 adults were tested on various memory functions. Bacopa seemed to show a significant effect for decreasing the rate of forgetting newly acquired information.(7)

Clinically, Bacopa has been reported to improve intellectual behavior in children; in adults, Bacopa has been reported to be effective in reducing anxiety, thereby allowing improved brain functioning in terms of memory enhancement and elevated mental performance.(8) A four-week open trial in India was conducted on 35 adult patients with anxiety neurosis.(9) Concentration and immediate memory span were both significantly improved. On-the-job mental fatigue, measured as total work output, and errors committed per unit time, also were statistically improved. Other major symptoms improved, including nervousness, palpitation, insomnia, headache, tremors, and irritability. The mean total anxiety level was significantly decreased, as was the mean maladjustment level and the disability level. In some cases, disability status was overcome. Side effects were transient and not clinically significant.

Traditionally Bacopa was used to anoint newborns with the hope of improving their intelligence, to "open the gate of Brahma" (Brahma being "creator" in the Hindu culture). Bacopa is still given in India to school age children for improving intellectual behavior. A single-blind trial in India was conducted to study the effects of Bacopa on children (ages 6-8) and learning behavior.(10) Maze learning improved, as did immediate memory and perception, and the reaction/performance times.

A laboratory animal study found that Bacopa lowers Abeta 1-40 and 1-42 levels in cortex by as much as 60%, and reverses Y-maze performance and open field hyperlocomotion behavioral changes present in PSAPP mice, suggesting a potential use in Alzheimer’s therapy.(17)

Neuroprotective activity

In an open clinical study of 13 patients with epilepsy, Bacopa was reported useful in improving the symptoms and occurrence of epileptic seizures.(11) The onset of epileptic seizures was completely resolved in five of the cases. This trial was conducted in 1966, so new studies need to be performed to justify the use of Bacopa in epilepsy. Many epileptic patients suffer from cognitive impairments, with both the underlying pathology and antiepileptic drug therapy causing such deficits. The commonly used anticonvulsant phenytoin (Dilantin) is known to adversely affect cognitive function. A recent Indian study tested Bacopa alone and in combination with phenytoin for its effect on cognitive impairments in laboratory mice.(12)

A laboratory animal study found that Bacopa treatment in epileptic rats significantly reversed the down-regulated mgluR8 gene expression toward control level, suggesting Bacopa may have corrective measures for epileptic and hypoxic management.(18)

Antioxidant/Anti-inflammatory activity

An extract of Bacopa was reported effective against lipid peroxidation in vitro.(13) Interestingly, Bacopa only slightly protected the auto-oxidation and FeSO4 induced oxidation of reduced glutathione on lower doses of 100 micrograms/ml and below (in vitro), but on higher concentrations, it enhanced the rate of oxidation. Bacopa was also reported in this study to have approximately half the antioxidant value of vitamin E. Other studies have noted the potential mast cell stabilizing activity of Bacopa extracts.(14) An in vitro study found that a standardized extract of Bacopa protected human lymphocytes against various clastogens due to its antioxidant effects.(19)

A laboratory study also found that Bacopa has anti-inflammatory activity through inhibition of COX-2 and 5-LOX along with downregulation of TNF-alpha.(20)

 

Other activity

A laboratory study reported that Bacopa treatment causes reversible suppression of spermatogenesis and fertility, without producing apparent toxic effects in mice.(21)

References

  1. View Abstract: Garai S, et al. Dammarane-type Triterpenoid Saponins from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry. Jun1996;42(3):815-20.
  2. View Abstract: Garai S, Mahato SB, Ohtani K, et al. Bacopasaponin D-a Pseudojujubogenin Glycoside from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry. 1996;43(2):447-49.
  3. View Abstract: Mahato SB, Garai S, Chakravarty AK. Bacopasaponins E and F: Two Jujubogenin Bisdesmosides from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry. Mar2000;53(6):711-4.
  4. View Abstract: Jain SK. Ethnobotany and Research on Medicinal Plants in India. Ciba Found Symp. 1994;185:153-64.
  5. View Abstract: Singh HK, et al. Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi) Extract on Avoidance Responses in Rat. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar1982;5(2):205-14.
  6. View Abstract: Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, Downey LA, Hutchison CW, Rodgers T, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl). Aug2001;156(4):481-4.
  7. View Abstract: Roodenrys S, Booth D, Bulzomi S, Phipps A, Micallef C, Smoker J. Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory. Neuropsychopharmacology. Aug2002;27(2):279-81.
  8. View Abstract: Kidd PM. A Review of Nutrients and Botanicals in the Integrative Management of Cognitive Dysfunction. Altern Med Rev. Jun1999;4(3):144-61.
  9. Singh L, Singh RH. Studies on the Anti-anxiety Effect of the Medyha Rasayana Drug, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera Wettst.)-part1. J Res Ayur Siddha. 1980;1:133-48.
  10. Sharma R, et al. Efficacy of Bacopa monniera in Revitalizing Intellectual Functions in Children. J Res Edu Ind Med. 1987;1:1-12.
  11. Mukherjee GD, et al. Clinical Trial on Brahmi. I. J Exp Med Sci. 1966;10(1):5-11.
  12. View Abstract: Vohora D, Pal SN, Pillai KK. Protection from Phenytoin-induced Cognitive Deficit by Bacopa monniera, A Reputed Indian Nootropic Plant. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug2000;71(3):383-390.
  13. View Abstract: Tripathi YB, et al. Bacopa monniera Linn. As An Antioxidant: Mechanism of Action. Indian J Exp Biol. Jun1996;34(6):523-26.
  14. View Abstract: Samiulla DS, Prashanth D, Amit A. Mast cell stabilising activity of Bacopa monnieri. Fitoterapia. Mar 2001;72(3):284-5.
  15. Stough C, Downey LA, Lloyd J, et al. Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytother Res. Dec 2008;22(12):1629-1634.
  16. Calabrese C, Gregory WL, Leo M, Kraemer D, Bone K, Oken B. Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. J Altern Complement Med. Jul 2008;14(6):707-713.
  17. Holcomb LA, Dhanasekaran M, Hitt AR, Young KA, Riggs M, Manyam BV. Bacopa monniera extract reduces amyloid levels in PSAPP mice. J Alzheimers Dis. Aug 2006;9(3):243-251.
  18. Paulose CS, Chathu F, Khan SR, Krishnakumar A. Neuroprotective role of Bacopa monnieri extract in epilepsy and effect of glucose supplementation during hypoxia: glutamate receptor gene expression. Neurochem Res. Sep 2008;33(9):1663-1671. Epub 2007 Oct 18.
  19. Deb DD, Kapoor P, Dighe RP, et al. In vitro safety evaluation and anticlastogenic effect of BacoMind on human lymphocytes. Biomed Environ Sci. Feb 2008;21(1):7-23.
  20. Viji V, Helen A. Inhibition of lipoxygenases and cyclooxygenase-2 enzymes by extracts isolated from Bacopa monniera (L.) Wettst. J Ethnopharmacol. Jul 2008 23;118(2):305-311. Epub 2008 Apr 24.
  21. Singh A, Singh SK. Evaluation of antifertility potential of Brahmi in male mouse. Contraception. Jan 2009;79(1):71-79. Epub 2008 Sep 18.