Botanical: Bacopa monnieri; Bacopa monniera
Family: Scrophulariaceae (figwort/snapdragon)
Other common names: Bacopa, Bacopa Monniera, Brahmi*, Neer Brahmi, Pennell, Water Hyssop
*Note: The common name, Brahmi, should not be confused with one of Gotu Kola's common names (also called Brahmi); it is a different plant with different properties.
Bacopa Monnieri is a very popular "brain tonic " in India that is used for longevity and to enhance concentration and mental clarity, as well as improve memory, learning abilities and overall mental function. It is considered an Ayurvedic age tonic that is said to restore youth and vitality and to stimulate sex drive. Bacopa is also thought to repair damaged skin, minimize scars and smooth out cellulite.
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.
Bacopa Monnieri is an annual or perennial creeping plant that may be found growing throughout India, in damp and marshy wetlands and on muddy shores, ascending to an altitude of 1,320 meters. There are also several species of the herb found in Hawaii and Florida; and in the West, Bacopa is a familiar water plant used in aquariums. Bacopa Monnieri is a small, sprawling plant that bears succulent, relatively thick, lance-shaped leaves and is distinguished by its small white flowers with four or five petals. In the Ayurvedic medicine of India, Bacopa has been revered for more than three thousand years, appearing in the ancient Ayurvedic treatise, Charaka Samhita, as a brain tonic for treatment of a range of mental conditions including anxiety, poor cognition, lack of concentration, epilepsy, loss of memory; and it also acts as a mild sedative. There is a story that in ancient India, long before the written word, Rishi holy men were entrusted to pass on their knowledge and wisdom from generation to generation through exhaustive oral histories; they were famous for their ability to perform epic poems for days on end. One classic poem, the Mahabharata, took several weeks to recite, but the Rishis were able to recite them consistently word-for-word. The Rishis attributed their amazing memory to a special tea brewed from a wild herb that grew along the sacred River Ganges. It was Bacopa. Most parts of the plant have been used traditionally, but modern preparations employ extracts of the stem and leaves. Today, in India, Bacopa is still recognized as being an effective brain tonic and is used in the treatment of learning disabilities, mental illness and epilepsy. Some of the constituents in Bacopa Monnieri include saponins (monnierin, hersaponin, and bacoside A and B), betulinic acid, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, serine, wogonin and oroxindin, flavonoids (apigenin and luteolin), beta-sitosterol, D-mannitol, stigmasterol (and its esters), nicotine and alkaloids (brahmine and herpestine).
Bacopa Monnieri is considered a fine "brain tonic" that has been used for centuries to improve mental capacity, enhance clear thinking, learning and memory, and generally boost all mental and brain functions. Traditional applications already suggest that it has a direct effect on increasing concentration; and modern laboratory tests claim that Bacopa provides antioxidant protection for the critical memory centers and helps to reduce the effects of stress on the brain. The bacosides (saponins) in Bacopa appear to play a protective role in the synaptic functions of the nerves of the hippocampus, the seat of memory. Nerve impulses are transmitted across the synapses (the gap between two neurons, over which impulses lead to learning), and their degeneration is believed to contribute to impaired memory and cognition. Use of Bacopa is thus thought to improve learning skills and impaired memory. Bacopa extracts also appear to have significant antioxidant activity in the brain and other effects that may help protect brain cells.
Additional brain effects of Bacopa demonstrated in lab research include reduction of both anxiety and depression. Biochemically, these nervous-system effects have been attributed to an enhancement of the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and, possibly, serotonin or GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). As a potent nerve tonic, Bacopa Monnieri is used to restore, energize, nourish and strengthen the central nervous system. It is used to calm the nerves and act as an herbal anti-depressant, alleviating nervous exhaustion, anxiety, temporary depression and headaches. It has also been used to treat nervous breakdown, attention deficit and nervous deficit, due to injury or stroke. Currently, in India, Bacopa is recognized as being effective in the treatment of mental illness, insanity and epilepsy.
With regard to epilepsy, Bacopa is said to protect mental function in those patients with epilepsy who take the anticonvulsant drug, phenytoin/valproic acid. Naturally, this should be undertaken under the aegis of one's attending physician.
Bacopa Monnieri is considered an Ayurvedic "age tonic," and is said to restore youth and vitality and stimulate sex drive. It is a very popular herb in India for longevity and mental function and has been used to restore vigor and banish fatigue. It is also thought to be useful in repairing skin (smoothing scars and minimizing imperfections) and supportive tissues and smoothing out cellulite.
It has been said that Bacopa Monnieri acts as a cardiotonic that is used to aid the circulatory system and help maintain a normally-functioning heart.
Pregnant and nursing women should avoid Bacopa Monnieri; and those who are taking prescription blood thinners, Coumadin, etc., should not use this herb.