Bacopa monnieri | Relieves Anxiety
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) aka Brahmi is native to India and Sri Lanka. It’s known as a nervine, mild anticonvulsive, antispasmodic, and antioxidant. Indians used Bacopa monnieri in religious consecration ceremonies for infants because the herb was believed to open a gateway to “intelligence for the child.”
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness, and Bacopa monnieri is the divinity responsible for all ‘creative’ forces in the world. Bacopa monnieri, aka Brahmi, means the ‘energy or shakti of Brahman (i.e., Sarasvati). With Brahmi deriving its name from these roots it has a lot to live up to.
And it does! Its mind-enhancing and nervous system soothing effects are legendary. Bacopa helps to improve memory, learning ability, and concentration. It’s used in mental disorders, epilepsy, mania, and hysteria. Bacopa monnieri is used to aid recovery from exhaustion and stress.
Consider using Bacopa monnieri for Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, depression, and drug addiction. Bacopa is essential in skin conditions with an underlying nervous imbalance. It also benefits tension throughout the system, helping to ease constipation from stress, relax muscle tightness, and alleviate menstrual pain. It is commonly used to treat insomnia.
Bacopa monnieri Uses in Folklore and Ayurveda
The literal meaning of Bacopa monnieri is which expands consciousness. According to Hindu mythology, Bacopa monnieri is one of the three gods of Trinity, who controlled the world during its origin. The other names of this herb in ancient texts are: Sureshta – liked by gods, Divy – divine, Saraswati, Sharad, Bharati – goddesses of learning (the herb is named after these goddesses to show that it has a good effect on intellectuality), Vayastha – arrests old age, Sharma – charming and Medhya – good for mental work.
Bacopa monnieri is one of the three medhya herbs of Ayurveda, used for psychoactive diseases. Bacopa monnieri has a beneficial effect on intelligence and memory by reducing anxiety and tension.
Bacopa monnieri is considered a nervine tonic for neurasthenia, epilepsy, insanity and nervous break- down. For learning and memory consume up to 30 ml of the Bacopa monnieri plant, the juice is given twice daily before breakfast in the morning and two hours after dinner. Bacopa monnieri is quite bitter, so honey is added to it to make it palatable.
To confirm the identity of Bacopa monnieri, Singh et al. studied the therapeutic activities of both Centella and Bacopa monnieri and concluded that Bacopa monnieri was the source of Brahmi. Bacopa monnieri showed significant psychotropic action as evidenced by excessive sleep and conformation changes in the brain, as well as in the blood.
A considerable barbiturate hypnosis potentiation effect was observed, with reductions in the acetylcholine and cholinesterase content of the brain tissue and the blood.
Mechanistic studies suggest that Bacopa monnieri have in vivo anti-inflammatory properties predicated on the downregulation of pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, IL-6, and iNOS). They also possess a number of properties directly relevant to the central nervous system.
These include the ability of Bacopa monnieri to attenuate the cognitive decrements caused by the muscarinic antagonist scopolamine, potentially via AChE inhibition, and analgesic properties that can be blocked by the opioid receptor antagonist naloxone, suggesting interactions with the opioid system.
It also attenuates the anterograde amnesia caused by diazepam and reverses epilepsy associated with GABAergic dysregulation. Both of the latter effects suggest the modulation of GABAergic function. However, despite these indications of potential modes of action, the precise mechanism remains unknown.
For instance, as yet, no direct receptor interactions have been identified, and all of the above phenomena may be downstream consequences of modulation of an unidentified system. Of course, one possibility is that they all reflect adaptogenic effects. In this regard Bacopa monnieri has been shown to normalize markers of HPA axis dysfunction in rat models—for instance, attenuating stress-induced changes in plasma glucose levels, adrenal gland weight, corticosterone levels, and the decrease seen in the levels of the monoamine neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and noradrenaline.
Whatever the mechanisms, Bacopa monnieri and its constituent triterpene saponins have been shown to exert consistent anxiolytic, antidepressant, cognition-enhancing, and anticonvulsant properties in rodent behavior models.
In humans, one study assessed the effects of Bacopa monnieri on general health parameters, demonstrating reduced cholesterol and triglyceride levels along with improvements in ratings of quality of life.
A number of studies have also assessed the effects of between 300 and 450 mg of Bacopa monnieri containing a minimum of 40% of bacoside A and B on psychological functioning. Two of these studies have assessed the acute effects of single doses of Bacopa monnieri.
The first found no cognitive effects and the second found only modest improvements restricted to the performance of one task within a cognitively demanding battery of tasks following the lower of two doses of Bacopa monnieri. However, a number of double-blind, placebo-controlled studies have assessed the cognitive and mood effects of supplementation with Bacopa monnieri for approximately three months.
Two of these studies recruited healthy younger adults. In the first of these studies, self-ratings of “state anxiety” and performance on cognitive tasks assessing the speed of early information processing, verbal learning rate, and memory consolidation were improved. In the second study, working memory performance was augmented. A number of studies have also focused on older adults (over 55 years).
In this group cognitive benefits of Bacopa supplementation have been seen in terms of attention and working memory, tasks assessing aspects of executive function and memory, word recall and executive function, and memory acquisition and retention. In one study, benefits were also seen in terms of improved mood and decreased levels of anxiety. One study also failed to demonstrate any good evidence of cognitive improvements.
Although all of these studies were relatively small, with sample sizes ranging from 35 to 98 (average 62), the picture seems to be one of the relatively consistent improvements in aspects of cognitive function. Indeed, a recent meta-analysis that included data from six of these studies concluded that the combined results did demonstrate evidence of efficacy in terms of memory enhancement. One further study has been published since this meta-analysis.
In this study, the effects of two doses (300/600 mg) of a whole ethanolic extract of Bacopa monnieri were investigated in 60 healthy adults. The measurements included an assessment of cognitive function, along with Cerebro-electrical activity parameters (EEG) and both AChE and monoamine oxidase inhibitory activity.
The results showed that working memory performance was improved following both doses of Bacopa monnieri, along with a decreased latency of evoked potentials (i.e., faster processing). Consuming the extract also led to AChE inhibition and therefore, may have increased cholinergic function, offering one potential mechanism for the modulation of brain function.
Earlier studies had shown that Bacopa monnieri alkaloid brahmine resembled strychnine in its stimulating action but was less toxic. Deshpande and Lalta Prasad observed sedation and Nembutal hypnosis effect in Bacopa monnieri, which showed better effects than Luminal.
Bacopa monnieri did not produce dizziness, nausea, or vomiting and could be used for cardiac patients. When tried by Nair et al. on patients of tubercular meningitis, it could not prevent convulsions but reduced the severity and hastened recovery in the post-convulsive stage. To study the herb effect on memory, Dey et al. observed that the herb produced maximum improvement during maze learning by albino rats.
Singh et al. observed an anti-anxiety effect in the alcoholic extract of Bacopa monnieri. Its saponins showed a significant barbiturate potentiation effect. The herb was effective in anxiety neurosis after one month of treatment. There was significant relief in symptoms and quantitative reduction in the level of anxiety.
Bacopa monnieri had an adaptogenic effect also. Khanna and Ahmed used the herb in the treatment of epilepsy and postulated that it acted through β-adrenergic receptors. Martis et al. experimented with the aqueous and alcoholic extracts of Bacopa. It was also found to be nootropic and a memory enhancer.
Dar and Channa observed a complete relaxant effect with the alcohol extract of Bacopa monnieri. Vohora et al. isolated a new triterpene bacosine from Bacopa monnieri, which was opioidergic in nature. Bacopa monnieri exhibited moderate analgesic effects. Abhang tried a herbal preparation containing bacopa on the intelligence quotient of 10– 13-year-old boys.
The preparation caused a statistically significant increase in intelligence. A polyherbal preparation Brahmi Rasayana containing bacopa monnieri, clove, long pepper, and cardamom seed showed anti-inflammatory activity comparable to that of indomethacin. This preparation may act by interfering with prostaglandin synthesis and by stabilizing the lysosomal membrane.
The ethanol whole plant extract exhibited anti-cancerous activity in Sarcoma 180 cell culture (Elangovan et al. 1995). Kiri and Khan tested the active constituents for genotoxic activity, and no chromosomal aberration was observed.
The alcohol extract of Bacopa monnieri had an antioxidant effect, which showed protection against lipid peroxidation. The memory enhancing, mild sedative effects, as well as relief in epilepsy and insomnia of Bacopa monnieri, may be due to this antioxidant activity.
Earlier brahmine, hespestine and a mixture of three alkaloids were isolated, but the therapeutic activity of Bacopa monnieri has been found to be due to saponins, bacosides A and B.
Abhang, R. (1993) Study to evaluate the effect of a micro (suksma) medicine derived from Brahmi (Herpestis monierra) on students of average intelligence. Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Sidha, 14, 10–21.
Bhattacharya, S.K., Ghoshal, S. (1998) Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 5, 77–82.
Chopra, R.N., Nayar, S.L., Chopra, I.C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants. Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi, India 1955.
Dar, A., Channa, S. (1997) Relaxant effect of ethanol extract of Bacopa monniera on trachae, pulmonary activity, and aorta from rabbits and guinea pigs. Phytotherapy Research, 11, 323–325. Deshpande, P.J., Lalta Prasad (1978) Role of indigenous drugs as preanaesthetic agents. Journal of Research in Indian Medicine, Yoga, and Homoeopathy, 13, 1–8.
Dey, C.D., Bose, S., Mitra, S. (1976) Effect of some centrally active Phyto products on maze learning of albino rats. Indian Journal of Physiology and Allied Sciences, 30, 88–97.
Elangovan, V., Govindasamy, S., Ramamoorthy, N., Balasubramanian, K. (1995) In vitro studies on the anticancer activity of Bacopa monnieri. Fitoterapia, 66, 211–215.
Jain, P., Khanna, N.K., Pendse, V.K., Godhwani, J.L. (1994) Antiinflammatory effects of an Ayurvedic preparation, Brahmi Rasayana in rodents. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 32,
Khanna, T. Ahmad, B. (1992) Some beta-adrenergic activity of saponins derived from ethanolic extract of Bacopa monniera. Proceedings of Conference on Trends in Molecular and Cellular Cardiology, Lucknow. 4–5 May 1992.
Kiri, A.K., Khan, K.A. (1996) Chromosome aberrations, sister chromatid exchange, and micronuclei formation analysis in mice after in vivo exposure to Bacoside A and B. Cytologia, 6, 99–103.
Martis, G., Rao, A., Karanth, K.S. (1992) Neuropharmacological activity of Herpestis monniera. Fitoterapia, 63, 399–404.
Nair, V., Sadanand, S., Athavalo, V.B. (1976) “Brahmi” as an anticonvulsant: trials in rats and in patients with tuberculous meningitis. Pediatric Clinics India, 11, 246–252.
Singh, H.K., Dhawan, B.N. (1994) Pre-clinical neuro-psychopharmacological investigations on bacosides: A nootropic memory enhancer. Update Ayurveda 94. Bombay, India, 24–26
Singh, R. H., Singh, L. (1980) Studies on the anti-anxiety effect of the Medhya Rasayana drug, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera Wettst ). Part I. Journal of Research in Ayurveda and Siddha, 1, 133–148.
Singh, R.H., Singh, L., Sen, S.P. (1979) Studies on the anti-anxiety effect of the Medhya Rasayana drug Brahmi (Bacopa monniera Linn). Part II. Experimental studies. Journal of Research in Indian Medicine, Yoga, and Homoeopathy, 14, 1–6.
Singh, R.H., Sinha, A.N., Pandey, H.P. (1975) A comparative study on the psychotropic action of the Medhya drugs, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) and Mandukaparni (Hydrocotyl Asiatica). Journal of Research in Indian Medicine, 10, 108–110.
Tripathi, Y.B., Chaurasia, S., Tripathi., E, Upadhyaya, A., Dubey, G.P. (1996) Bacopa monniera Linn as an anti-oxidant mechanism of action. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 34, 523–526.
Vohora, S.B., Khanna, T., Athar, M., Bahar Ahmed (1997) Analgesic activity of bacosine, a new triterpene isolated from Bacopa monnieri. Fitoterapia, 68, 361–365.
Bacopa monnieri has a suppressant action on appetite, and so is best combined with warming digestive herbs such as ginger or cardamom (Pole 2005). Its astringent action is useful in diarrhea due to Vata disturbance.
Bacopa monnieri is widely used in India and China to enhance brain function and in the treatment of mental problems such as epilepsy, anxiety, and hysteria. Bacopa monnieri is reported to have sedative as well as cardiotonic effects due to the presence of hersaponin, one of four saponins isolated from the plant.
It has been used traditionally to improve memory and concentration, enhance learning ability, and calm mental turbulence. It has a nourishing effect on the nervous system and is prescribed for reducing the effects of stress and nervous exhaustion, depression and in particular for conditions associated with excess Vata. A trial of 76 adults suggested that bacopa may help decrease the rate of forgetting newly acquired information (Roodenrys et al. 2002).
Bacopa is a popular remedy for treating coughs and colds in children. It can also be used for asthma and hoarseness. A poultice of the entire boiled plant is applied to the chest in bronchitis and chronic cough.
A cooling diuretic, bacopa is used for relieving the pain of cystitis and irritable bladder.
In Sri, Lanka bacopa is used for relieving fevers.
For external use
As a medicated oil it is neuralgic in joint pain. Used as a head rub for headaches and to clear the mind. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is also used as a brain tonic to strengthen the memory and encourage hair growth. We also use Brahmi in our Hanging from Heaven hair formula.
Promote memory and focus
Slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease
Also used for children and adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Recovering from head trauma injuries
Ingredients: Wild harvested Bacopa monnieri
Parts Used: Aerial parts
Forms: Two ounces of powder or 60 vegetable capsules (550-600 mg).
How to use:
Powder: Take ½ to 1 tsp. of dried powder in 8 oz. of favorite juice, two times a day.
Capsules: Take 2-4 capsules twice a day with water or a favorite beverage.
The gel caps we use are Vegicaps (vegetable) and are all-natural. No Animal By-Products, Starch Free, Wheat Free, Dairy Free, Preservative Free, Ethylene Oxide, and Sulfite FREE!
Legal Information: The Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated these statements. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.