Bacopa monnieri, also known as Water Hyssop, is a commonly used and widely available supplement used for improving cognitive function and mitigating the symptoms of various conditions. It is also a treatment often used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.
It can be taken as a supplement, drank as tea, or purchased as a plain powder. Here is what the research says about Bacopa monnieri, its short-term and long-term effects, and what it can do for you, your family, and your body.
What Is Bacopa Monnieri?
Bacopa monnieri is an herb that goes by several names: Herb of grace, water hyssop, and thyme-leaved gratiola. It is found in the northeastern and southeastern parts of India, where it grows in wet, marshy areas.
It is often used as a traditional remedy in Ayurvedic medicine. In Ayurvedic traditional medical practices, Bacopa monnieri is called “Brahmi” by doctors and patients alike.
There are many studies concerning the supplement’s various antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and cognitive enhancing properties. Quite a few of them have promising results, but there are not enough studies or claims to make a definite decision on whether they should be used by medical professionals as a formal treatment.
Bacopa Monnieri as an Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Agent
When taken as a supplement, Bacopa monnieri is often used as both an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. Antioxidants protect against cell damage from harmful cells. Anti-inflammatories prevent or treat inflammation or swelling.
Bacopa monnieri’s most active molecules are called “bacosides.” According to a 2015 study on its effects on aging brains, bacosides have effective antioxidant properties and are able to neutralize harmful cells.
Its anti-inflammatory properties were shown in multiple human, animal, and test-tube studies, where it not only suppressed an inflammatory reaction in patients but inhibited enzymes related to inflammation.
Bacopa Monnieri as a Treatment for Symptoms of Neurodivergence
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects peoples’ concentration, memory, impulsivity, and emotional volatility. People with this condition are considered “neurodivergent,” as their brains are not wired in the same way as those who do not have these conditions.
In 2010, scientists released a study that investigated the effects of administering 225 mg of Bacopa monnieri to neurodivergent children aged 6-12. According to the study, this lowered the undesirable symptoms of ADHD by around 85%.
People with ADHD often deal with memory loss. The antioxidant properties in Bacopa monnieri can help regenerate brain cells, preventing memory loss and brain cell death. Some also link this with the potential to treat dementia.
Bacopa Monnieri as a Way To Help Cognitive Function and Lower Anxiety
Bacopa monnieri is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it may have the potential to help anxiety. However, the tests have been inconclusive.
On the one hand, there are studies that show it has the potential to lower cortisol levels (a hormone closely associated with high stress) and lower anxiety akin to drugs like lorazepam. However, there are other studies that show that Bacopa monnieri has no effect on anxiety levels.
Animal and human studies also show Bacopa monnieri’s potential for cognitive enhancement. The animal studies showed that Bacopa monnieri improved the subjects’ learning capacity.
Another study reported that Bacopa monnieri had the potential to lengthen dendrites (parts of the brain that affect memory).
Human tests also showed potential. According to one study, adults who took 300 mg or 600 mg of Bacopa monnieri reported improved learning capacity, faster understanding, and higher cognitive ability.
Bacopa Monnieri as a Cancer Treatment
According to some studies, Bacopa monnieri may have anticarcinogenic (anti-cancer) properties that can help treat cancer.
Animal and test-tube studies have shown that Bacopa monnieri destroyed colon, breast, and skin cancer cells. This mechanism is unclear, but it is theorized that it is due to the bacosides present in the herb.
The antioxidant properties may contribute to its potential as an anticarcinogenic agent. It is also said to prevent tumor growth, effectively slowing the cancer down and preventing its spread.
Side Effects of Bacopa Monnieri
While Bacopa monnieri has plenty of beneficial effects, it also has plenty of side effects to be aware of.
Some of these side effects may include:
- Nausea or stomach upset
- Stomach cramps
- Bradycardia (slow heart rate)
- Increased gastrointestinal activity
- Increased urinary activity
- Increased thyroid activity
- Dry mouth
While some say that it can improve fertility and help with pregnancy, there are no conclusive studies to prove this. As a precaution, please do not take Bacopa monnieri while nursing or pregnant.
There are concerns about increased gastrointestinal, urinary, and thyroid activity while taking Bacopa monnieri. Take precautions if you have gastrointestinal, urinary, or thyroid conditions.
Other Effects of Bacopa Monnieri
While these are unsubstantiated and have very few studies to back them up, Bacopa monnieri has other stated benefits.
It is considered by some to be a suitable treatment for toothaches, fertility, and blood toxicity. Some even say it can prevent miscarriage.
As these are unsubstantiated claims, please do not take them at their word. Always check a medical claim’s veracity before using a supplement as a treatment for a condition.
Talk to Your Doctor Before Taking Bacopa Monnieri
Before taking any new supplement, please check with your doctor for medical advice. Your doctor knows you, your conditions, and your body better than anyone. They can let you know whether or not Bacopa monnieri is right for you.
While all these studies are promising and show a lot of potential, please keep in mind that the studies and results are not conclusive. There is not enough information to say for sure whether or not Bacopa monnieri should be used as a long-term treatment for any disorder, disease, or mental health condition.
Bacopa monnieri has plenty of potential as a cancer, cognitive, and anxiety treatment. However, as nothing is conclusive and many of the studies were conducted on animals and in test tubes, it is impossible to say for sure.