Ayurveda, which means "life sciences" in Sanskrit, is a holistic system of Indian medicine that evolved between 3000 and 5000 years ago. It is becoming more and more popular in the U.S., and is still used by the majority of people in India to treat a variety of health problems, because not only is it time-tested for its safety and effectiveness, it is accessible and inexpensive.
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Bacopa monniera-named Brahmi in the Ayurvedic texts, probably for Lord Brahma, the Hindu creator of the world and originator of Ayurveda-is recognized as a powerful brain enhancer.1 It is still considered to be the greatest herb in Ayurveda for treating age-related mental decline, as well as for improving cognitive processes, including comprehension, memory and recall. It also enhances the crucial coordination of these three aspects of mental functioning, and helps increase one's ability to solve problems.
Who can benefit from Bacopa?
Anyone who wants to improve his or her memory, the ability to concentrate, learn new information, and minimize the negative effects of stress.
In India, adults and students take Bacopato improve for better mental function, and Brahmi tea is even given to infants to encourage optimal mental development. The herb is popular among students for improving mental clarity, confidence, intelligence, concentration, and memory recall. It is also especially helpful to students with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
In a double-blind, randomized trial conducted at the Department of Pediatrics, BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, India, 19 ADHD children, aged 8-10 years old, were given 50 mg. of Bacopa twice daily. 17 ADHD children received a placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, the children took a battery of specialized tests. The data revealed a significant improvement in the areas of sentence repetition, logical memory, and pair-associative learning (matching things that go together; e.g., "test" and "grade") in all 19 children who took Bacopa. Evaluation did not occur until four weeks after stopping Bacopa usage, indicating that it had a lasting effect. According to Dr. O. P. Asthana, head of the pediatric department, there were no side effects and the herb was very well tolerated.5
Now, thanks to this study and other numerous studies conducted by the Central Drug Institute (CDRI) in Lucknow, India, it is being introduced to the rest of the world and tested by scientists outside of India, who have found that Bacopa:
- Increases mental agility and alertness
- Improves memory
- Increases ability to learn new information and skills
- Calms the mind, while promoting relaxation
- Improves academic performance
- Helps concentration and focus
Increases intelligence in healthy adults, while reducing anxiety
In an Australian double-blind study, researchers gave 46 healthy adults either 300mg. of Bacopa or a placebo. After 12 weeks, the group that took Bacopa had a 13 percent improvement in learning and memory rates. But the most striking result was the significant reduction in anxiety in those who received Bacopa.6
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Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi). IndianJ Pharmacol 1997;29(5):S359-65.
Channa S, Dar A, Yaqoob M, Anjum S, Sultani Z, Atta-ur-Rahman. Broncho-vasodilatory activity of fractions and pure constituents isolated from Bacopa monniera. J Ethnopharmacol. 2003 May; 86(1): 27-35.
Goel RK, Sairam K, Babu MD, Tavares IA, Raman A. In vitro evaluation of Bacopa monniera on anti-Helicobacter pylori activity and accumulation of prostaglandins. Phytomedicine. 2003; 10(6-7): 523-7.
Sairam K, Rao CV, Babu MD, Goel RK. Prophylactic and curative effects of Bacopa monniera in gastric ulcer models.Phytomedicine. 2001 Nov; 8(6): 423-30.
Negi KS, Singh YD, Kushwaha KP, Rastogi CK, Rathi AK, Srivastava JS, Asthana OP, Gupta RC, Lucknow G. "Clinical evaluation of memory enhancing properties of Memory Plus in children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder." Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 2000 Apr; 42(2) Supplement
Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, Downey LA, Hutchison CW, Rodgers T, Nathan PJ. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl) 2001 Aug;156(4):481-4
Rastogi S, Pal R, Kulshreshtha DK. Bacoside A3 - a triterpenoid saponin from Bacopa monniera. Phytochemistry 1994 May;36(1):133-7.
Russo A, Izzo AA, Borrelli F, Renis M, Vanella A. Free radical scavenging capacity and protective effect of Bacopa monniera L. on DNA damage. Phytother Res. 2003 Sep; 17(8): 870-5.
Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn. (brahmi) extract on avoidance responses in the rat. J Ethnopharmacol 1982;5:205-14.
Bhattacharya SK, Bhattacharya A, Kumar A, Ghosal S. Antioxidant activity of Bacopa monniera in rat frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus. Phytother Res. 2000 May; 14(3): 174-9.
Singh RH, Singh L. Studies on the anti-anxiety effect of the medyha rasayana drug, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera Wettst). Part 1.J Res Ayur Siddha 1980;1:133-48.
Russo A, Borrelli F, Campisi A, Acquaviva R, Raciti G, Vanella A. Nitric oxide-related toxicity in cultured astrocytes: effect of Bacopa monniera. Life Sci. 2003 Aug 8; 73(12): 1517-26.
Das A, Shanker G, Nath C, Pal R, Singh S, Singh H. A comparative study in rodents of standardized extracts of Bacopa monniera and Ginkgo biloba: anticholinesterase and cognitive enhancing activities. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2002 Nov; 73(4): 893-900.