Natural remedies such as herbs can be life-changing in how they can positively affect the brain and body. Bacopa is a little-known Indian herb that has been shown in some studies to be as effective as pharmaceuticals in its ability to calm the mind. It has demonstrated a positive effect on Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and may even have a role as an alternative therapy for ADHD.
The Role of Bacopa Monnieri in Ayurvedic Medicine
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri or b.) is a traditional Indian herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. It is known by several names including water hyssop, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort.
It is also sometimes referred to as brahmi, not to be confused with gotu kola – another ayurvedic herb that is sometimes called brahmi. These two plants are both amazingly beneficial but in vastly different ways.
Over the centuries, bacopa has been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda) for:
- digestive issues
- respiratory conditions
- back pain
- joint pain
- and much more
It is most known, however, as a “brain tonic” for the many ways it can help the mind.
Bacopa Benefits: Improved Memory
Bacopa has been shown to improve memory and help calm anxiety in particular. According to research, B. monnieri has the ability to regulate certain brain chemicals, such as dopamine and serotonin , which are involved in learning, thinking, memory, stress response, and mood.
In 2008, researchers at Swinburne’s Brain Science Institute in Australia  analyzed data from 62 healthy volunteers who took bacopa for three months. The volunteers were given cognitive assessments before starting bacopa and then divided into two groups – those who received bacopa and those who received a placebo.
The researchers found that bacopa improved spatial, visual, and working memory significantly. Task performance timing also improved.
Earlier findings have shown similar results. Another Australian research team working in 2001 stated that their results suggested:
“that B. monnieri may improve higher order cognitive processes that are critically dependent on the input of information from our environment such as learning and memory .”
Bacopa Reduced Stress Responses & Boosted Mood in Study Subjects
Bacopa has also been shown to help reduce stress responses rather quickly. In another study at Swinburne conducted in 2014 , Australian researchers found that salivary cortisol levels went down overall in subjects who took both 320 mg and 640 mg of bacopa in two different occasions. The researchers also noted that mood improved in the participants as well.
Animal Studies Show Promising Role of Bacopa for Cognitive Decline and Depression Disorders
Promising studies have also been done on Bacopa’s role in regulating brain chemistry for those with schizophrenia. Cognitive decline is one of the unfortunate long-term effects of the disease and can also exacerbate the symptoms.
A 2015 Thai mouse study  found that Bacopa monnieri may be able to help. Researchers reported that Bacopa orchestrated positive changes in the prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and other parts of the brain in a mouse model.
This finding and others like it may give hope to individuals with the condition since schizophrenia-related cognitive decline is something that modern pharmaceuticals have not been able to address.
On the other end of the spectrum, Bacopa monnieri has also been linked to improvements in depression disorders . Antioxidant saponins in Bacopa can positively affect the nervous system. In particular, it can provide possible enhancements to the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid), according to researchers at the University of Michigan .
As noted on the Michigan Medicine (University of Michigan) website, “Bacopa extracts also appear to have significant antioxidant activity in the brain, and other effects that may help protect brain cells .”
Bacopa Benefits for Type 3 Diabetes (aka Alzheimer’s)
It may appear strange that two conditions that seemingly operate on different parts of the body could be related. But conclusive evidence has proven that diabetic conditions can indeed lead to memory loss, the build-up of neurological toxins and, in some cases, full-blown Alzheimer’s Disease .
In fact, for more than a decade many health experts have been referring to Alzheimer’s as “Type 3 diabetes .”
The connection has to do with insulin. A 2015 report published in the journal Experimental & Molecular Medicine  found that Alzheimer’s disease is connected to imbalances in insulin signaling as well as the metabolism of glucose in the brain.
Yes, your brain contains insulin receptors as well! This may explain one of the reasons why individuals suffering from long-term metabolic syndrome often experience more cognitive decline than others who do not have the conditions .
Bacopa has been found to positively affect both metabolism and brain health. In fact, a 2008 investigation  published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology discovered that bacopa protected brain neurons from oxidative stress while at the same time protecting against lipid peroxidation. The researchers noted that:
“…treating patients with Brahmi (bacopa) extract may be an alternative direction for ameliorating neurodegenerative disorders associated with the overwhelming oxidative stress as well as Alzheimer’s disease.”
Can Bacopa Help With ADHD?
An exciting possibility for bacopa is as a substitute for pharmaceuticals given mostly to children for Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
ADHD is characterized by difficulty in maintaining attention, hyperactivity and impulsive behavior, and usually begins in childhood. U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data collected in 2016  found that approximately nine percent of U.S. children aged two to 17 years have been diagnosed with ADHD; this equates to about 6.1 million children and young adults.
Substances called bacosides are antioxidants unique to B. monnieri. They have been found to improve cognition by sharpening nerve impulses.
According to a 3-month long joint randomized clinical trial conducted by both Australian and Indian scientists , children with ADHD who took 50 milligrams of bacopa twice a day showed vast improvement in memory, logical responses, mental and behavior control and “paired associated learning.” What’s more, the effects seemed to be long-lasting for the children.
This presents a possibly natural and side-effect-free option for the millions of children with ADHD, many of whom are prescribed drugs for their condition.
One common pharmaceutical is Adderall. Adderall is an amphetamine that is commonly used in the U.S. for the treatment of ADHD as well as depression. One downside of Adderall is that it can be highly addictive. Other side effects include:
- mood swings
- sleep issues
- heart issues 
Bacopa Side Effects
While there appear to be no side effects of taking bacopa, some do complain about the taste: it can be quite bitter. In addition, some studies have found that it may take bacopa a period of time for its benefits to be revealed.
For example, in general, studies show that cognitive improvements are much more noticeable after 12 weeks than they are at six weeks.
Finally, some individuals have experienced increased bowel movement as well as stomach upset with bacopa, although this is fairly rare.
The effects on cognition, mood, and stress responses can be noticeable with bacopa. Couple this with the fact that there are few side effects and this makes bacopa a go-to Ayurvedic herb for boosting memory, improving mental sharpness, and lowering stress levels overall – all much needed in our stress-inducing modern world!
Note: Bacopa monnieri is one of eight brain-enhancing and all-natural botanicals from the Amazon rainforest in Organixx Ageless Brain formula.