Last week we looked at the ingredient Lion's Mane, one of the coolest nootropics on the block. This week we get down and dirty looking at one of the most promising and well known natural nootropics - Bacopa Monnieri.
Who is Bacopa and where do we find them?
Bacopa, also known as Brahmi and water hyssop, is technically known as a perennial herb (a herb that lives for greater than two years). If you’re looking for Bacopa you won’t find it in Australia, you'll need to go searching in India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China or in the south of the US. So why would we bother searching so far and wide? Well, if we take a trip back to the Indian scriptures of 5000 BC, Bacopa was regularly used for the treatment of poor memory, improvement of cognitive processes, comprehension, memory, and recall. Pretty cool stuff.
What does it do?
Although Bacopa can be seen as a 'friend with benefits type of person', take my word for it, Bacopa is better in longer term relationships with the benefits increasing over time. Bacopa is best known for it's memory enhancing effects and importantly has significant clinical evidence to support this. Most clinical evidence, explored below, suggests Bacopa may positively impact the cholinergic system (the system that uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine), while also exerting an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effect.
How Does Bacopa work
Like your Facebook relationship, Bacopa is complicated, and what I mean by that is Bacopa exerts many of its beneficial effects through many of its different constituents. However, if we take a reductionist view of things, and narrow our focus to the heavy hitting constitutes, then we need to look at the saponins; Bacosides A and B
1) Bacosides A and B
Bacosides A and B are certainly busy and have been shown to improve the transmission of impulses between neurons (i.e. how well some of your specialised cells are communicating with each other). Bacosides A and B also increase the growth of nerve endings known as dendrites and help to repair damaged neurons. Sounds pretty good, but what’s the practical implication? Through the above effects, we improve our ability to learn, retain and retrieve information.
Show me the proof
Yes, Bacopa is beautiful on the outside, but we all know what matters is what’s on in the inside, and these internal components inside Bacopa are making waves in the scientific community. Let’s take a look at some of the evidence behind Bacopa.
Study 1) Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa Monnieri extract
The recent 2014 meta-analysis on Bacopa Monnieri used nine studies, equating to 518 subjects. What the meta-analysis found was Bacopa has the potential to improve cognition, particularly in the domain of speed of attention.
Study 2) Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa Monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial
In 2016 a study, which utilised a randomised placebo- controlled trial, was conducted on medical students for six weeks at a dosage of 150mg of Bacopa. The study was able to conclude statistically significant improvements in a range of cognitive functions, including working memory.
Ok now for the recommendations based off the literature:
Remember, not all extracts are created equal, and its crucial you find the right extract and use the right dosage. Follow the below, but remember always consult your doctor or medical advice beforehand.
- Find a product of Bacopa with a bacoside content standardized to 50-55%
- Aim to consume the optimal effective daily dose of 300mg. However, lower dosages such as 150mg may also be effective.
Until next week, stay hungry, stay humble and be smart.
- Kongkeaw, C., Dilokthornsakul, P., Thanarangsarit, P., Limpeanchob, N., & Scholfield, C. N. (2014). Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 151(1), 528-535.
- Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 647-652.
- Kumar, N., Abichandani, L. G., Thawani, V., Gharpure, K. J., Naidu, M. U. R., & Venkat Ramana, G. (2016). Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.