Bacopa monniera Monograph

Bacopa monniera Monograph

This section is compiled by Frank M. Painter, D.C.
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FROM:   Alternative Medicine Review 2004 (Mar);   9 (1):   79–85 ~ FULL TEXT

Bacopa monniera, also referred to as Bacopa monnieri, Herpestis monniera, water hyssop, and “Brahmi,” has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for centuries. Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration, [1] and to provide relief to patients with anxiety or epileptic disorders. [2] The plant has also been used in India and Pakistan as a cardiac tonic, digestive aid, and to improve respiratory function in cases of bronchoconstriction. [3] Recent research has focused primarily on Bacopa’s cognitive-enhancing effects, specifically memory, learning, and concentration, and results support the traditional Ayurvedic claims. Research on anxiety, epilepsy, bronchitis and asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and gastric ulcers also supports the Ayurvedic uses of Bacopa. Bacopa’s antioxidant properties may offer protection from free radical damage in cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer.

Clinical Indications

Cognitive Effects for Adults

Bacopa monniera has been studied clinically for its acute and chronic effects on cognitive function. In adults, it appears only chronic administration is associated with cognitive-enhancing effects. In a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 38 healthy volunteers (ages 18-60), subjects were given a single dose of 300 mg Bacopa monniera extract (standardized to 55-percent combined bacosides A and B) or placebo. Subjects were tested two hours after drug administration, coinciding with maximum pharmacodynamic effect. Acute administration of this dose of Bacopa extract resulted in no significant changes in cognitive function when compared to baseline values. Parameters assessed included attention, working and short-term memory, verbal learning, decision making, memory consolidation, executive processes, planning and problem solving, speed of information processing, and motor responsiveness. [20]

On the other hand, significant cognitiveenhancing benefits have been demonstrated with more chronic administration of Bacopa extracts. Australian researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled, 12-week trial utilizing the same patient selection criteria and same dose of Bacopa extract (300 mg daily) containing 55-percent combined bacosides. Forty-six healthy volunteers (ages 18-60) were randomly and evenly divided into treatment and placebo groups. The same series of tests administered in the acute dosage trial were administered at baseline, five, and 12 weeks after treatment began. At the end of the 12-week 7study, results indicated a significant improvement in verbal learning, memory consolidation, and speed of early information processing in the treatment group compared to placebo. These effects were not observed at baseline or at five weeks. These results may be attributed to Bacopa’s antioxidant properties and/or its effect on the cholinergic system. [21]

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