Bacopa benefits an array of organ systems, including an affinity for supporting the nervous system and cognitive functioning. Learn about bacopa uses here.
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri, sometimes Herpestis monniera or Monniera cuneifolia) is a medicinal plant native to India, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Its Indian name is brahmi, and it is also referred to as Water Hyssop, Thyme-Leafed Gratiola, Herb of Grace, and Indian Pennywort.
Bacopa benefits the brain and nervous system, especially when cognitive difficulties are present, but there is much more to his plant. In Ayurveda, brahmi is considered a rasayana herb tonic. Rasayana is an Ayurvedic term referring to herbs, substances and techniques for balancing the doshas, building vitality and lengthening life.
Background information on bacopa
Bacopa is a perennial creeping plant with opposite leaves that are oblong and serrated, generally 1” long and skinny. Bacopa produces solitary white flowers with four or five petals. The parts of the plant that are used for medicinal use are the leaves and stem, which have a bitter taste.
Bacopa can also be found in Florida and Hawaii, where it prefers damp soil to marshy wetlands, like one would find throughout the Indian plains where it’s native.
Bacopa benefits for the nervous system and brain
The brain and the nervous system are the focal points of bacopa benefits.
Bacopa can be classified as an anti-anxiety, calmative nervine tonic used for preventing and treating symptoms as wide as anxiety (studies have shown to be as or more effective than Lorazepam, and without that drug’s side effects), depression, tension held in body and mind, chronic headache, nervous breakdown, Disturbed Shen (Spirit) symptoms, and even insanity.
Bacopa is a superior brain and nervous system tonic for calming and clearing the mind. It has been used proactively to enhance mental capacity, including the following:
- Mental endurance & recovery
- Cognitive function
- Sensory acuity
- Reflex time
- Mental brightness
- Stable emotions
Bacopa benefits also involve treating a wide array of mental deficiency symptoms, including neurasthenia, prevention and recovery from nervous or mental breakdown, treatment of epilepsy and other seizure disorders (as part of larger protocol), ADD-like issues, dementia, senility, Lyme Disease related cognitive dysfunctions, Alzheimer’s Disease, and Parkinson’s Disease, among others.
Bacopa also increases cerebral circulation. Tests show that it is most immediately effective at improving retention of newly acquired information, making it excellent for improving short-term memory. Long-term use shows even better results for improving memory, focus, reflex speed, sensory acuity, cognitive functions and intelligence after several weeks of steady administration. Bacopa is equally useful in elderly formulas for senility and age-related mental disorders, as well as in children and young adult formulas for addressing ADD and ADHD.
Bacopa benefits for the digestive system
Bacopa demonstrates antispasmodic activity on intestinal smooth muscle via inhibition of calcium influx across cell membrane channels. This makes bacopa useful as an adjunct in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and dyspepsia formulas. Bacopa benefits also include a protective and healing effect on stress-induced gastric ulcers, significantly healing and strengthening mucosal tissue. Bacopa also demonstrates specific antimicrobial activity against Helicobacter pylori., an organism that that causes stomach ulcers.
Bacopa benefits for the live and gallbladder
Being a bitter tonic, bacopa benefits the gallbladder as a cholagogue (encourages secretion of bile) and aperient (normalizes peristalsis in the intestines), and as such is used in correcting congested bilious disorders. Like any good bitter, bacopa normalizes intestinal motility, balances blood sugar, helps digest lipids, and keeps the digestive system running smoothly. It does this while also aiding in the elimination of waste via bile. These attributes make it a useful in protocols for congested liver. Bacopa also demonstrates hepatoprotective properties in the presence of toxins and drugs like morphine or phenytoin.
Bacopa benefits for the heart and cardiovascular system
Bacopa is a cardiotonic and vasodilative, providing a relaxing effect on arterial smooth muscle, including the aorta and pulmonary artery. It is cardiotonic by way of reducing workload on the heart muscle, and it also helps to stabilize stress-related high blood pressure.
Bacopa benefits for the lungs and respiratory system
Bacopa benefits the lungs and respiratory system by demonstrating an antiinflammatory effect as well as a relaxing, dilating effect on bronchial and tracheal tissue, in turn enhancing lung capacity. Bacopa has been used for centuries to treat asthma. It also relieves hoarseness of the throat, making it useful in performer’s throat formulas.
Bacopa benefits shown within scientific studies
A study from 2016 entitled Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial is one instance of bacopa being studied in a lab setting. Let’s take a look at some of the main conclusions from this study.
First, it states, “Our study further adds to the increasing scientific evidence supporting cognitive enhancement effects of Bacopa monnieri in humans.”
The study continues: “Our study also tested subjects’ other cognitive functions apart from memory which may be useful in evaluating Bacopa monnieri’s cognitive effects in future studies.”
The impact of bacopa on mineral and neurotransmitter levels was also discussed. “The antioxidant effect, action on calcium channels, and acetylcholine level have been credited for the action of Bacopa. We also found significant increase in serum calcium levels after Bacopa administration (still within normal range).”
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