- Adaptogenic Stress Reducer
It’s been shown that up to 90 percent of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints — 90 percent! (1) Crazy, I know, but not hard to believe. Stress, especially chronic stress, does terrible things to our minds and bodies, and general stress reduction should always be a top priority for anyone trying to live a healthy lifestyle.
Bacopa extract has actually been shown to work as a natural stress reliever by helping our bodies better handle or adapt to our daily stressors. An animal study conducted at the Central Drug Research Institute in India showed that a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera successfully guarded against acute and chronic stress. More specifically, it reduced damaging stomach ulcer and adrenal activity. The study concluded that bacopa possesses a potent adoptogenic activity. (2)
- Anti-Anxiety & Antidepressant
It’s probably not too surprising that just as it reduces stress, this beneficial plant also can reduce anxiety and depression. Animal research published by the University of Michigan Health System shows the positive brain effects of bacopa, including reduction of both depression and anxiety. These very positive effects on the nervous system have biochemically been attributed to an enhancement of the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and, possibly, serotonin or GABA. (3)
- Memory Improvement
A small, double-blind, 12-week study conducted at the Neuropsychology Laboratory at the School of Biophysical Science and Electrical Engineering in Australia had volunteers take 300 milligrams of bacopa daily while other volunteers received a placebo. Prior to the study commencing, researchers tested all volunteers on visual information processing, memory and speed of information processing.
The tests were repeated five and 12 weeks after the study began. A significant improvement among the volunteers in the bacopa group was found compared to those in the placebo group, leading researchers to conclude that it “may improve higher order cognitive processes that are critically dependent on the input of information from our environment such as learning and memory.” (4)
- Alzheimer’s Disease & Dementia Treatment
Alzheimer’s disease is a brain disorder that progressively causes memory loss, dementia and early mortality. Natural prevention can include supplementation with bacopa. According to the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, it might hold promise for preventing the dementia (decline in mental ability severe enough to affect daily life) associated with Alzheimer’s. (5)
No high-quality human studies have been conducted, but the animal research affords great results so far. For example, these research studies have found that bacopa improves cognition, reduces oxidative stress and may protect the brain from Alzheimer’s- and dementia-related symptoms. (6, 7, 8)
- Epilepsy Treatment
Seizures occur in the body when your brain cells, which communicate through electrical signals, send out the wrong signals. Generally, several seizures are needed before there is a diagnosis of epilepsy.
While little to no human research has been done, there is a plethora of research in animals that suggests bacopa may be a natural epilepsy treatment. These research studies find that treatment with bacopa regulates gene expression, helps correct faulty reception of brain cells and help increase GABA responses. (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14) All of these results are a good sign that the cognitive impairment and seizure activity caused by epilepsy could potentially be relieved with bacopa.
- Chronic Pain Minimizer
A review published in Current Medicinal Chemistry showed that Bacopa monnieri not only has strong antidepressant effects, but it has pain-reducing capabilities comparable to morphine. The study also indicated that this herbal treatment offers protective benefits for organs commonly affected by opiate toxicity like the brain, kidneys and heart. Researchers concluded, “Bacopa is may be a safe and well-tolerated herbal therapy for pain management in multiple clinical trials including various age groups.” (15)
- Blood Pressure Regulator
A recent animal study showed that bacopa might increase the human body’s utilization of nitric oxide and encourage vascular muscle function, two benefits that positively influence normal blood pressure. The Journal of Ethnopharmacology study concludes that, according to research studies, some Bacopa monnieri ingredients could be effective at naturally lowering blood pressure. (16)
- ADHD Treatment
The bacosides in Bacopa monnieri are said to sharpen cognitive function by improving transmission of nerve impulses, which makes it promising for the ADHD. Attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often begins in childhood and is a chronic condition that involves attention difficulty, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.
In a 12-week, double-blind, randomized clinical trial, children with ADHD who took 50 milligrams twice a day showed significant improvement over children receiving a placebo in tests of mental control, logical memory and paired associated learning. Evaluation of study subjects did not occur until four weeks after stopping bacopa usage, indicating that the supplementation had a lasting effect. (17)
Overall, it makes sense why it would be helpful for the symptoms of ADHD. Bacopa creates a sense of calm and peace, which is very helpful for the hyperactive and impulsive tendencies of those with ADHD. It also has a unique ability to invigorate mental processes while reducing the effects of stress and nervous anxiety, which is a perfect combination for an ADHD sufferer’s attention difficulties.
- Reduce symptoms of Schizophrenia
Bacopa is one supplement in a long list hopeful to reduce symptoms of schizophrenia, although no human research has yet been completed. It may be able to protect against the cognitive impairments frequently seen in schizophrenia. (18, 19)