Common name: Brahmi, water hyssop
Botanical name: Bacopa monniera
© Martin Wall
Bacopa is native to India, where it grows in marshy areas. In the West, bacopa is a familiar water plant used in aquariums. Most parts of the plant have been used traditionally, but modern preparations are extracts of the stem and leaves.
Bacopa has been used in connection with the following conditions (refer to the individual health concern for complete information):
|Science Ratings||Health Concerns|
and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support and/or minimal health benefit.
Since at least the sixth century A.D., bacopa (Brahmi) has been used in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India) as a diuretic and as a tonic for the nervous system and the heart. Specific uses include the treatment of asthma, insanity, and epilepsy.1
The leaves of bacopa contain saponins, including the bacosides,2 3 4 which are thought responsible for the therapeutic properties of the herb. In animal studies, both purified bacosides and extracts of bacopa standardized for bacosides have been found to enhance several aspects of mental function and learning ability.5 6 7 Additional brain effects of bacopa demonstrated in animal research include reduction of both anxiety and depression.8 9 Biochemically, these nervous-system effects have been attributed to an enhancement of the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and,10 11 possibly, serotonin or GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).12 13
Bacopa extracts also appear to have significant antioxidant activity in the brain,14 and other effects that may help protect brain cells.15
Animal research has also reported that bacopa extracts can relax the muscles that control the blood vessels, the intestine, and the airways of the respiratory system,16 17 18 19 and can help both prevent and heal ulcers in the stomach.20
Traditional herbal references recommend 5 to 10 grams per day of the powdered herb.21 Human research has used 300 to 450 mg per day of an extract standardized to contain 55% bacosides.
Bacopa appears to be well tolerated when taken in typical amounts,22 although one double-blind study reported significantly more symptoms of dry mouth, nausea, and muscle fatigue in participants taking bacopa.23
Are there any drug
Certain medicines may interact with bacopa. Refer to drug interactions for a list of those medicines.
1. [No author listed]. The Wealth of India: Raw Materials. II-B. New Delhi: Publications and Information Directorate, CSIR, 1950:2–3.
2. Chatterji N, Rastorgi RP, Dhar ML. Chemical examination of Bacopa monniera Wettst. Part I: isolation of chemical constituents. Indian J Chem 1963;1:212.
3. Rastogi S, Pal R, Kulshreshtha DK. Bacoside A3—a triterpenoid saponin from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry 1994;36:133–7.
4. Jain P, Kulshreshtha DK. Bacoside A1, a minor saponin from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry 1993;33:449–51.
5. Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi). Indian J Pharmacol 1997;29:S359–S365.
6. Singh HK, Rastogi RP, Srimal RC, Dhawan BN. Effect of bacosides A and B on avoidance responses in rats. Phytother Res 1988;2:70–5.
7. Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn. (brahmi) extract on avoidance responses in rat. J Ethnopharmacol 1982;5:205–14.
8. Bhattacharya SK, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera—an experimental study. Phytomedicine 1998;5:77–82.
9. Sairam K, Dorababu M, Goel RK, Bhattacharya SK. Antidepressant activity of standardized extract of Bacopa monniera in experimental models of depression in rats. Phytomedicine 2002;9:207–11.
10. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology 2001;156:481–4.
11. Bhattacharya SK, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Effect of Bacopa monniera on animal models of Alzheimer's disease and perturbed central cholinergic markers of cognition in rats. In: Siva Sanka DV, ed. Molecular Aspects of Asian Medicine. New York: PJD Publications, 2000.
12. Ganguly GK, Malhtora CL. Some neuropharmacological and behavioral effects of an activefraction from Herpestis monniera Linn (Brahmi). Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1967;11:33–43.
13. Dey PK, Datta C. Effect of psychotropic phytochemicals on cerebral amino acid level. Indian J Exp Biol 1966; 4:216–8.
14. Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Antioxidant activity of Bacopa monniera in rat frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus. Phytother Res 2000;14:174–9.
15. Russo A, Borrelli F, Campisi A, et al. Nitric oxide-related toxicity in cultured astrocytes: effect of Bacopa monniera. Life Sci 2003;73:1517–26.
16. Dar A, Channa S. Bronchodilatory and cardiovascular effects of an ethanol extract of Bacopa monniera in anaesthetized rats. Phytomedicine 1997;4:319–23.
17. Dar A, Channa S. Relaxant effect of ethanol extract of Bacopa monniera on trachea, pulmonary artery and aorta from rabbit and guinea-pig. Phytother Res 1997;11:323–5.
18. Channa S, Dar A, Yaqoob M, et al. Broncho-vasodilatory activity of fractions and pure constituents isolated from Bacopa monniera. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;86:27–35.
19. Dar A, Channa S. Calcium antagonistic activity of Bacopa monniera on vascular and intestinal smooth muscles of rabbit and guinea-pig. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;66:167–74.
20. Sairam K, Rao CV, Babu MD, Goel RK. Prophylactic and curative effects of Bacopa monniera in gastric ulcer models. Phytomedicine 2001;8:423–30.
21. [No author given]. Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia, Volume 1. Worli, Mumbai: Indian Drug Manufacturers Association, 1998.
22. Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi). Indian J Pharmacol 1997;29:S359–S365.
23. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology 2001;156:481–4.
Copyright © 2007 Healthnotes, Inc. All rights reserved. www.healthnotes.com
Learn more about Healthnotes, the company.
Learn more about the authors of Healthnotes.
The information presented in Healthnotes is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires September 2008.