The adaptogen herb Bacopa Monnieri is a powerful nootropic. It supplies your brain with active bacosides that improve memory, enhance cognition, elevate mood, and relieve stress.
Also known as Brahmi or water hyssop, Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial creeping herb. It is native to southeastern Asia, mainly India.
As an adaptogen, Bacopa Monnieri protects your brain from physical and chemical stress. But unlike some conventional therapies, Bacopa doesn’t sacrifice your cognition to reduce stress. Meaning, it doesn’t sedate you like some anxiolytics. (5)
Bacopa helps with:
- Brain chemicals – Bacopa interacts with neurotransmitters like acetylcholine, which is known to regulate memory and cognitive function.
- Protects neurons – Bacopa delivers Bacosides which have strong antioxidant activity in the brain and enhance cognition. In addition, Bacopa works to prevent the formation of arterial plaque in the brain, which is known to lead to stroke and Alzheimer’s.
- Stress and Anxiety – Bacopa is a natural anxiolytic. It regulates the levels of serotonin, also known as the ‘happy brain chemical’.
The brain-boosting effects of Bacopa were first discovered by ancient Ayurvedic people. The nootropic herb was given to devotees to enhance their mind’s capacities – helping them recall long passages of text.
In this post, I’m going to break down the science behind Bacopa’s nootropic benefits. In easy to digest facts for you. Read on to learn more…
What is Bacopa Monnieri?
Being an aquatic herb, Bacopa Monnieri loves growing in wet and marshy parts of India and Southeast Asia.
You may know this herb under many names, including water hyssop or Brahmi. It’s got its name after the Hindu Creator God Brahma.
Ancient Ayurvedic records mentioned Bacopa quite often. Devotees took it to boost their memory and cognition.
The key active chemical in Bacopa is called Bacoside A. It easily crosses your blood-brain barrier and exerts its benefits in the brain.
Who is Bacopa For?
Is Bacopa Monnieri for you? Should you supplement it?
Bacopa Monnieri, like the one found in one of my favorite nootropic formulas, Mind Lab Pro, is a leading nootropic for students, busy professionals, older people, and athletes who’re looking to retain knowledge and stay cool during stressful situations.
Bacopa’s benefits go beyond learning, though. This nootropic herb is also for anyone who’s looking to improve mood, mental performance, and long-range brain health – no matter the age.
If You’re Always Stressed…
Stress is an inevitable part of life. However, when stress becomes chronic, things go downhill fast. Cortisol stays elevated and your brain cells suffer damage in the process.
Experts from the University of California found that chronic stress leads to long-term changes in our brain function and structure. (1)
During stress, certain proteins over-express which damages your neurons in the process. This leads to:
- Memory loss
- Brain cell death
- Destruction of synapses
- Mood swings
When under chronic stress, your brain can’t fire signals from neuron to neuron efficiently.
The good news is, you can offset this issue. Optimizing your lifestyle around exercise, a healthy diet, and herbs like Bacopa Monnieri will create an environment where your brain can thrive.
Bacopa has the potential to undo the damage of chronic stress on your brain. Not only that, Bacopa is one of the best natural supplements for rumination; clearing the mind of stressful & doomed thoughts.
Here’s how Bacopa works…
How Bacopa Can Help You
Bacopa benefits the brain in a number of ways. But two key ones are:
- Boosts memory & recall. The two active compounds in Bacopa, bacosides A and B, improve electrical impulses between your brain cells. Bacosides also aid in neuron repair.
- Reduces stress. By interacting with the serotonergic brain pathways, Bacopa effectively raises mood and relieves stress. Both clinical and anecdotal evidence show that Bacopa can help with anxiety (including social anxiety).
Bacopa also slows down the rate of forgetting what you’ve just learned. At the same time, it optimizes memory and learning in general. (2, 3, 4)
This is very different from conventional therapies where the mind is numbed in order to reduce stress. You feel less tense, but at the cost of your cognition. (5)
Quick Bacopa Facts
- Enhances acetylcholine, serotonin, and GABA hormones
- Helps promote balance stress response by regulating cortisol
- In addition to its own antioxidant activity, it regenerates other antioxidants; delivering a one-two punch against neuron-damaging free radicals
Nootropic Benefits of Bacopa
- May aid in promoting visual information processing speed
- Optimizes higher-order cognitive processes that are dependent on external stimuli
- Supports mood and cognition in times of stress
- Enhances learning, memory, and knowledge retention
How Does Brahmi (Bacopa) Work on the Brain?
Your brain is an extremely complex organ (the most complex we know in the Universe, in fact!), and so is Bacopa’s interaction with it.
For simplicity’s sake, we can break everything down into three key brain pathways that Bacopa affects:
Emerging studies show that Bacopa Monnieri can increase cerebral blood flow by as much as 25% in animals.
Not only that, but Bacopa also increases glucose uptake in your brain. Meaning it makes your brain use fuel more efficiently. Researchers describe this finding as a “pro-cognitive effect”. (6)
Bacopa boosts acetylcholine, your key learning neurotransmitter. In addition to regulating memory, acetylcholine is also essential for sharp cognition and overall brain health.
Bacopa also enhances GABA and serotonin. Both of which are known to induce positive mood and states of calmness. (7, 8, 9)
Possibly the most important benefit of Bacopa is its protective effect on your brain. The active components of Bacopa are very strong antioxidants on their own. But, they also regenerate your body’s native antioxidants, such as glutathione peroxidase (GPx) and superoxide dismutase (SOD).
Bacopa’s potent antioxidant activity is even shown to counter the formation of protein clusters that lead to mental decline. (9, 10)
Plus, Bacopa is an adaptogen. This means it strengthens your body’s resilience to the damage caused by physical and emotional stress.
It achieves this by interacting with the endocrine system – suppressing the release of cortisol. This is why you’ll find you can think and focus more clearly during stress when you have the benefits of Bacopa going for you. (11)
Bacopa (Brahmi) Studies
Here are scientific studies of Bacopa’s nootropic effects on the brain.
Study #1 – Bacopa Reduces Stress
Alongside its memory-boosting effects, Bacopa is best known for relieving stress. Latest research from Australia’s Swinburne University of Technology confirms this.
This double-blind, placebo-controlled study took 17 healthy volunteers. The researchers gave them either 320mg or 640mg of Bacopa Monnieri extract.
What the study found, was that Bacopa significantly improved the volunteers’ mood and reduced cortisol levels. (12)
Cortisol is your main stress hormone involved in the fight-or-flight response, alongside adrenaline and noradrenaline.
Study #2 – Bacopa Monnieri Boosts Mental Performance
We have another double-blind placebo-controlled clinical trial from Swinburne University. This time, the researchers took 107 healthy volunteers. They were given 300mg of Bacopa extract for 3 months.
At the end of the study, these people went through a series of tests. The results showed that those who took Bacopa extract saw a significant boost in their memory accuracy, spatial memory, and visual information processing. (4)
#Study 3 – Bacopa Protects the Brain From Toxins
Believe it or not, but long-term aluminum exposure can increase your risk of getting Alzheimer’s by 60%. It’s no secret that heavy metals can do some heavy damage to us. (13)
That’s why I personally always check my deodorant label before buying it. I also look to minimize my exposure to heavy metals in general, from other sources as well.
How does this relate to Bacopa, you ask?
Well, studies show that it can protect your brain from harmful toxins. Such as aluminum.
Bacopa works to prevent the build-up of toxins inside and between your neurons. Thus preventing damage to the hippocampus, which is critical for memory, learning, cognition, and neurogenesis.
A study from Jawaharlal Nehru University gave rats water with aluminum chloride. The same aluminum that is harmful to your brain. Some of these rats were also given Bacopa Monnieri.
It turned out that Bacopa protected these rats’ brains from oxidative stress caused by aluminum. The shocking finding was that it was just as efficient as selegiline, an Alzheimer’s drug. What’s more, Bacopa restored the brain’s native antioxidants to near-normal levels, including superoxide dismutase. (14)
Bacopa Monnieri Deficiency – Is There Such a Thing?
While Bacopa Monnieri isn’t an essential compound. Your body doesn’t make it on its own. So if you want to experience its wealth of benefits, you need to supplement it.
As I said, B. Monnieri specializes in protecting the body and the mind from the damaging effects of stress.
Bacopa isn’t essential – but, if you’re under constant tension, it can help a great deal. Studies show that it can even repair damage to synapses and neurons caused by stress.
In fact, a study released in Phytomedicine found that the calming effect of Bacopa was on the same level to lorazepam (Ativan). Which is an anti-anxiety pill.
Truth be told, this is no news. Ancient Ayurvedic passages knew what we’re only now discovering about Bacopa.
How to Get the Most Out of Bacopa
If you want to gain the mental benefits of Bacopa, you basically have two options: get an individual B. Monnieri supplement. Or take it as a part of a professional nootropic formula like Mind Lab Pro.
This pre-formulated nootropic includes 10 ingredients that work in synergy with Bacopa to optimize all aspects of mood and cognitive function.
Mind Lab Pro is by far the best nootropic I’ve tried. The ingredients are all top-notch quality. This includes Bacopa which comes with its full spectrum of isomers, saponins, and bacosides in Mind Lab Pro.
See my in-depth Mind Lab Pro review to find out more about this fantastic nootropic.
As both you and me have our own unique chemical make-ups, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ dosage of Bacopa.
That said, we do have some general guidelines if you’re just starting out with this nootropic. It’s recommended to start with the lowest dosage that works for you, and then increase from there until you get the desired effect.
- The standard dose for Bacopa Moonieri that has 45% bacosides is between 200-450mg a day.
- The standard dose for Bacopa Monnieri that has 20% bacosides is 750mg a day.
If doing higher dosing, divide it equally in two daily doses. One with your first meal and another in the early afternoon.
Also, Bacopa is fat-soluble. That means you should take it with a healthy source of fat like olive oil or coconut oil. This ensures Bacopa’s beneficial compounds get fully absorbed and delivered to your brain cells.
Important! Bacopa takes time to work. You probably won’t notice its benefits immediately. The longer you take it, the bigger the benefits. In fact, some studies show that Bacopa’s benefits peak at around the 8-12 week mark.
Types of Bacopa Monnieri Supplements
You’ll find Bacopa in tablets, capsules, and powder forms. Just make sure to check the label for the amount of Bacosides. The higher the concentration of these compounds, the lower the dose you need.
Bacopa Monnieri, aka, Brahmi side effects are rare when following the dosage directions. Occasionally, this herb can cause fatigue and upset stomach.
Since bacopa interacts with your neurotransmitters like dopamine and serotonin, it will have effects on your mood. Most studies and anecdotal evidence shows only positive mood changes with Bacopa.
But there are a few user reports on Reddit saying how Bacopa made them feel lethargic and unmotivated. Some even claimed that Bacopa caused them anhedonia.
I did some digging on this, and found that there are two brands on Bacopa currently on the market. One is BaCognize, and another is Synapsa.
BaCognize seems to be causing some of these symptoms in some (very few) users. People on Reddit report having better results from Bacopa Synapsa. Synapsa is more stimulating and should thus fix the issue.
However, this is just one more reason to go with a full spectrum, high-quality Bacopa supplement. Like the one found in Mind Lab Pro. This way you’ll avoid the headache of trying to find a Bacopa brand that works (and doesn’t cause side effects).
Anything Else to Consider?
As I’ve said, you’ll find Bacopa Monnieri as a standalone supplement. But also in higher-quality professional nootropic stacks.
The example I keep coming back to is Mind Lab Pro, which contains 11 nootropics including Bacopa M. extract with 24% active bacosides as well as the bioactive isomers and saponins. It’s one of the highest quality extracts on the market today.
And the reason why I recommend Mind Lab Pro is because it addresses all aspects of brain health. This includes brain waves, neuroprotection, mood enhancement, brain repair, and regeneration. I personally use it to boost my focus, mood and work productivity. You can see my full Mind Lab Pro review here.
Does Bacopa Make You Tired?
For most people, Bacopa doesn’t make them tired. That said, WebMD states that in some cases, fatigue following Bacopa ingestion can occur.
Can Bacopa Cause Anhedonia?
Some users report that a specific brand of Bacopa, BaCognize, can cause anhedonia. While we don’t have scientific evidence to support this, you can take the Synapsa form of Bacopa, which is said to be more stimulating. Or simply take Bacopa as a part of a high-quality nootropic stack.
Can You Take Bacopa and Ginkgo Together?
Yes, you can take Bacopa and Ginkgo together. In fact, unless you have or suspect a medical condition (in which case you should talk to your doctor before taking any supplement), taking Bacopa and Ginkgo together will only lead to more pronounced benefits. Mainly cognition, memory, and mental clarity.
Will Bacopa Keep You Awake?
Bacopa isn’t a stimulant, and we don’t have reputable clinical evidence showing that it can keep you awake. Despite this, certain forms of Bacopa are described as energizing by some users. Specifically, Synapsa (a patented form of Bacopa) could keep you awake.
Can You Take Bacopa and Ashwagandha Together?
Ashwagandha and Bacopa are both adaptogens. Many users take them together because they complement each other’s anti-stress and mood-boosting benefits.
Does Bacopa Lower Dopamine?
The research still doesn’t have definitive answers on whether Bacopa lowers dopamine or increases it. We do know that Bacopa interacts with brain chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and GABA, which is how it achieves its anti-depressant effects.
Bacopa Monnieri is a natural and highly effective nootropic for:
- Improving mood & reducing anxiety
- Enhancing memory
- Protecting the brain from toxins and stress
- Aiding nerve repair
- Improving cerebral blood flow
Bacopa has been used by devotees to retain long passages of text in ancient times. Today, everyone from students, busy professionals, athletes, and stressed parents use Bacopa to feel better and achieve more.
One thing to note is, don’t expect Bacopa to work immediately.
Research shows that it takes between 4-8 weeks of daily use to get the most out of this herb. This is simply because Bacopa slowly builds up in your brain.
Its horrible taste aside (easy to avoid, just don’t take it as powder), Bacopa is a safe and powerful nootropic. Some of the rarer side effects are fatigue, nausea, and lethargy.
If you’re looking to get Bacopa, make sure to look at the label for Bacoside content, and choose one from a high quality reputable brand. There are many supplements with Bacopa out there which are ineffective, or worse yet, are contaminated with heavy metals and cause side effects.