Bacopa, or water hyssop, is a highly respected aquatic plant in Ayurvedic medicine. Better known in India as "brahmi", it is traditionally used to stimulate the brain and improve memory and other cognitive functions.
Bacopa and cognitive functions
Several studies have shown the plant's effectiveness in improving reasoning, learning and the speed of information processing. Bacopa promotes cerebral circulation and improves the plasticity of the brain, that is, its ability to reshape, to adapt, an important mechanism for thinking and memory.
The first results are felt over the long term and usually appear after 3 to 4 weeks. Therefore, it is advisable to consume bacopa over the course of 2 to 4 months.
As it works on both young and old people, the action of bacopa is largely due to the bacosides A and B it contains. These compounds act in particular at the level of the prefrontal cortex, the hippocampus and the striatum, sites of various higher cognitive functions and regeneration of brain tissue.
Bacosides also increase levels of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter involved in memory and learning. Bacopa is also being studied as a potential agent to improve the symptoms of Alzheimer's disease, the acetylcholine level of a person with the disease being lower than normal.
Bacosides and brain protection
Bacosides A and B are also excellent at scavenging free radicals. They thus constitute powerful antioxidant molecules which protect the neurons of the brain. This makes bacopa all the more interesting in the fight against certain neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, characterized by strong oxidative damage. The vitamin C contained in the plant also participates in limiting this oxidative stress.
It has also been shown that bacopa slows down the formation of amyloid plaque, which is strongly involved in the degradation of brain structures during neurodegenerative diseases.
Bacopa and inflammation
Bacopa is a powerful anti-inflammatory. The alkaloids, flavonoids, vitamin C and bacosides it contains are all components that inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory molecules such as TNF-alpha (Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha) and IL-6 (Interleukin-6), involved among others in joint diseases such as arthritis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
Bacopa and stress
Bacopa is an adaptogenic plant in the same way as ginsengs, lamaca or larhodiola. Thus, it improves the body's resistance to situations of physical, psychological, acute or chronic stress.
At the same time, it has a calming and anxiolytic action which promotes appeasement and relaxation. It is therefore ideal for stress, anxiety, depression, overwork and mental fatigue.
It works by reducing the level of cortisol, a stress hormone, and by supporting the activity of the main calming neurotransmitters serotonin and GABA (γ-aminobutyric acid).
Bacopa and ADHD
Bacopa has been tested in children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, the notorious ADHD. It is a frequently increasing diagnosis, especially in North America.
Thanks to bacopa, we see significant improvements in learning and attention skills with, at the same time, a decrease in impulsivity and hyperactivity.
In addition to being effective, the treatment appears to be safe and well tolerated by children, constituting an interesting avenue for helping them in their daily life and in their academic progress.
Chaudhari KS, Tiwari NR, Tiwari RR, Sharma RS. (2017). Neurocognitive Effect of Nootropic Drug Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) in Alzheimer’s Disease. Annals of Neurosciences; 20;24(2):111-122.
Kean, J.D., Kaufman, J., Lomas, J. & al. (2015). A Randomized Controlled Trial Investigating the Effects of a Special Extract of Bacopa monnieri (CDRI 08) on Hyperactivity and Inattention in Male Children and Adolescents: BACHI Study Protocol (ANZCTRN12612000827831). Nutrients; 2,7(12): 9931-45.
Nemetchek, M. D., Stierle , A. A., Donald B Stierle, D. B. & al. (2017). The Ayurvedic plant Bacopa monnieri inhibits inflammatory pathways in the brain. J Ethnopharmacol; 2; 197:92-100.