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Botanical names: Bacopa monnieri

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.

Used for Amount Why
Age-Related Cognitive Decline Refer to label instructions Animal studies have found this Ayurvedic herb enhances several aspects of mental function and learning ability, and there is some preliminary research that it improves mental function in humans.
Alzheimer’s Disease Refer to label instructions Animal studies have found that bacopa has constituents that enhance several aspects of mental function and learning ability.
Anxiety Refer to label instructions Bacopa has been shown to have anti-anxiety effects.

How It Works

The leaves of bacopa contain saponins, including the bacosides, 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. Additional brain effects of bacopa demonstrated in animal 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). Bacopa extracts also appear to have significant antioxidant activity in the brain, and other effects that may help protect brain cells.

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, and can help both prevent and heal ulcers in the stomach.

How to Use It

Traditional herbal references recommend 5 to 10 grams per day of the powdered herb. Human research has used 300 to 450 mg per day of an extract standardized to contain 55% bacosides.

Side Effects

Bacopa appears to be well tolerated when taken in typical amounts, although one double-blind study reported significantly more symptoms of dry mouth, nausea, and muscle fatigue in participants taking bacopa.

Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds

At the time of writing, there were no well-known interactions with this supplement.

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