Bacopa Monnieri: Improve Memory and Cognitive Performance

Bacopa Monnieri: Improve Memory and Cognitive Performance

Has science finally caught up with one of the most important medicinal herbs of ancient whole-body healing system used to improve cognitive function?

Bacopa Monnieri also known as Brahmi, “Herb of Grace”, or “Water Hyssop” is a perennial, creeping aquatic plant that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat memory and health issues for thousands of years. Born out of India, Ayurvedic medicine supports health and wellness by balancing the mind, body, and spirit. Practitioners believe that we are all a product of five basic elements that combine in the body to create three life forces called doshas. When in alignment, each dosha contributes to a person’s overall health, but when one element outweighs the other, the consequences can be detrimental. 

In Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa Monnieri is a medicinal plant used to rejuvenate intellect and improve memory. Known as Brahmi, a word derived from Lord Brahma, the creator god in Hinduism, Bacopa Monnieri can be translated from Sanskrit to mean “expansion of consciousness”. With such a powerful connection to the spiritual world, it is no wonder that Bacopa Monnieri has been revered as a revitalizing herb for its ability to treat cognitive issues such as poor memory, anxiety, and lack of concentration. 

Documented as far back as the first century A.D. in the ancient Ayurveda text known as the Charaka Samhita, Bacopa Monnieri is now increasingly being studied as a nootropic herb for treating neurological and psychological conditions. 


What are the benefits of Bacopa Monnieri?

  1. Enhances memory and boosts brain function*
  2. Contains antioxidants that may support the immune system and protect brain health*
  3. Adaptogenic effects may calm the mind and reduce stress*

1. Bacopa Monnieri May Enhance Memory and Boost Brain Function

Although more peer reviewed studies are required, research seems to support the notion that Bacopa Monnieri could be used as a potential herbal remedy for improving memory and cognitive function.*

In a randomized double-blind placebo controlled study, sixty healthy elderly adults received either a placebo or a standardized extract of Bacopa Monnieri at 300mg or 600mg. Interestingly, participants taking the standardized extracts daily for a 12-week period experienced a compounding effect and saw an increasing benefit overtime when compared to the control group. The results suggest that a standardized extract of Bacopa Monnieri can improve attention, cognitive processing, and working memory by helping to suppress acetylcholinesterase activity in the brain.*1

Acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter responsible for playing an important role in focus, attention, memory and motivation. By inhibiting acetylcholinesterase (the breakdown of acetylcholine), researchers believe Bacopa Monnieri may help to increase the availability of acetylcholine in the brain, resulting in better neural communication and improved cognitive function. 

Similarly, in another double-blind placebo-controlled study participants were either given 300mg of Bacopa Monnieri or a placebo. Using neuropsychological testing at various stages throughout the study, researchers found that Bacopa Monnieri significantly improved speed of visual information processing. They also found that the herbal extract improved learning and memory consolidation, while helping to reduce anxiety compared to the placebo group.* Just like the first study, the maximum benefits seemed to be most profound at the 12-week mark, suggesting a loading phase is required when taking the extract.2

Interestingly, animal research in 2011 not only corroborated the two human studies above, but a post-mortem analysis on the lab rats used suggested that the constituents in Bacopa Monnieri extract could also be responsible for stimulating the growth of neuron dendrites.*3 In the brain, dendrites play a critical role in neural communication and signaling, with research suggesting that the density and formation of dendrites are highly correlated with healthy neuron function.4


2. Antioxidants Found In Bacopa Monnieri May Help Reduce Inflammation and Protect the Brain

We are constantly under attack by foreign substances in the food we eat and the air we breathe. Even drinking water could cause single oxygen atoms known as free radicals to scavenge the body, looking to pair with electrons, and ultimately disrupting our cells and DNA. Over time, this can lead to chronic inflammation, and when left untreated, can create an environment in which free radicals thrive, leading to cancers, autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease.5 

Unfortunately, all this oxidative stress can also lead to serious neuron cell death, early onset cognitive decline, and neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzhiemer’s.  

We now believe that antioxidants, the unique compounds found in many foods, could help to inhibit oxidation and protect us from the effects of chronic inflammation and free radical destruction. 

With centuries of use in Ayurvedic medicine, researchers are now looking at Bacopa Monnieri for its ability to suppress pro-inflammatory cytokines as well as its powerful antioxidant compounds called bacosides. The bacosides in Bacopa Monnieri include superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase, brain-protective enzymes that help to regenerate other antioxidants.*6 It is thought that the antioxidant properties of bacosides could help to prevent brain degeneration by protecting against irregular protein clusters.*7 There are multiple studies in fact that suggest Bacopa Monnieri acts as a therapeutic antioxidant with the potential to not only improve cognitive function but to help provide neuroprotection and reduce inflammation.*8 

Although more research is required, scientists in one animal study were able to successfully reverse signs of memory impairment caused by oxidative damage. These results suggested that Bacopa Monnieri could provide potential therapeutic benefits when used in treating diseases related to cognitive decline.*9


3. Bacopa Monnieri’s Adaptogenic Effects May Calm the Mind and Reduce Stress

One of the key principles to Ayurvedic medicine is to bring the body back in balance. Since its discovery, Bacopa Monnieri has been used as a treatment to do just that. Known for its adaptogenic properties, this powerful herb could help to stabilize physiological processes and promote homeostasis. 

Everyday, our adrenal glands produce cortisol, the brain’s main stress hormone used to control your mood, motivation and fear. Even though the production of cortisol is a natural response key to survival, chronic levels of stress can eventually lead to a weakened immune system, anxiety, depression, and even heart disease.  

A growing body of evidence now suggests Bacopa Monnieri acts as an adaptogen that may help to manage stress and mood by regulating cortisol, serotonin, and GABA.*10

By reducing cortisol levels and boosting mood, Bacopa Monnieri has shown promising results in treating stress related health issues.* In fact, one study successfully showed that participants experienced a significant reduction in cortisol two-hours after ingesting a standardized extract of the herb.11 

In another 12-week human study, the herb’s adaptogenic effects seemed to decrease heart rate, state plus trait anxiety and CESD-10 depression scores  when compared to those of the placebo group.12

Bacopa Monnieri is a promising natural remedy that may help manage stress, allowing for quick and clear thinking in the short term, while helping to protect the brain over time.* 


Summary: Taking Bacopa Monnieri May Enhance Memory and Protect the Brain After 12-Weeks  

Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial, aquatic herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to promote longevity, rejuvenate intellect, and improve memory. Today, Bacopa Monnieri can be found as a standardized extract for use as a natural nootropic to improve cognitive function.* A growing body of research seems to support Bacopa’s traditional use in Ayurvedic medicine, suggesting the powerful herb may help to improve memory, slow cognitive decline, and reduce inflammation, while regulating stress and chronic stress related health issues.* 

Multiple studies suggest that Bacopa Monnieri requires a loading phase, with optimal benefits beginning around the 12-week period after daily use.* In a study with sixty healthy adults, researchers concluded that a 300mg standardized extract may help to improve attention, cognitive function, and memory by increasing bioavailability of acetylcholine in the brain.1 Similar studies suggest that Bacopa Monnieri could also help to improve learning and memory consolidation, while one animal study found that the herb’s ability to stimulate neuron dendrite growth may play an important role in contributing to cognitive performance and long term brain health.*2 3 4

Bacosides, the powerful antioxidants found in Bacopa Monnieri could provide therapeutic defense against chronic inflammation and neurodegenerative disease by regenerating other antioxidants and managing irregular protein clusters in the brain.*6 7 

Furthermore, Bacopa Monnieri has shown promise by acting as an adaptogenic herb, helping to manage stress and calm the mind. As a natural anxiolytic, Bacopa Monnieri regulates cortisol, the primary stress hormone, and boosts mood by stimulating serotonin and GABA in the brain.*10

Even though more long term studies are required, Bacopa Monnieri has shown promising results as a safe herbal remedy for improving cognition, memory, learning, and visual information processing, while helping to balance mood and stress in healthy adults.* As studies have shown, the most benefits seem to occur when taking a 300mg standardized extract for at least 12-weeks.* 

Mind Flora, our natural plant and functional mushroom-based formula designed to support wakefulness contains 120mg of a 10:1 Bacopa Monnieri extract, standardized to >45% bacosides. Try Mind Flora today.*





 *The statements made in this article have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Any products mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. The information in this article is intended for educational purposes. The information is not intended to replace medical advice offered by licensed medical physicians. Please consult your doctor or health practitioner for any medical advice.