Long valued in Ayurveda as a brain tonic, today Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is popular everywhere for its ability to sharpen memory and concentration.
Bacopa is a water hyssop, native to the wetlands in Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America.
Bacopa is also called Brahmi, in reference to the Hindu god. In India, newborns are blessed with bacopa to open the pathway to the intellect.
Indian children are even given Brahmi tea to increase learning before school.
Bacopa is a key adaptogen that reduces stress and encourages a relaxed state of mind. It’s a primary herb for people with racing thoughts who need to focus.
Herbalists use bacopa to enhance brain function for memory problems and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Preliminary research shows bacopa may benefit Alzheimer’s disease and amnesia, too.
Research finds bacopa extract increases the release of “feel good” brain chemicals like GABA (Gamma Aminobutyrique Acid) and serotonin, naturally reducing anxiety, stress, and depression.
Saponins, like bacosides in bacopa, seem to improve transmission of impulses between nerve cells in the brain, making it easier to learn and remember.
Some research suggests bacopa may actually aid the brain cells involved in brain tissue regeneration.
A 2008 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Therapies reveals taking bacopa for three months improves test scores on attention and verbal memory in older adults with memory problems.
Animal research suggests bacopa provides brain cell protection for age-related brain disease.
A 2002 double blind study published in Neuropsychopharmacology shows bacopa produces significant improvements in learning and memory, and seems to reduce distractibility in adults.
An open label study done in India finds bacopa promotes improvements in self-control and learning in children with ADHD.
Bacopa may be a healthier option to ADHD drugs like Ritalin and Adderall, which suppress the appetite, and cause insomnia and weight loss.
While Bacopa is best known for increasing brain health, it also works as an herbal adaptogen.
As an adaptogen, bacopa encourages healthy adrenal activity and guards against chronic stress. It’s a great tension reliever, and can encourage sleep if you have insomnia.
Bacopa is a popular digestive tonic for people with gas or who are prone to ulcers.
As an anti-inflammatory, bacopa helps decrease the swelling and redness that occurs during an immune reaction.
For this reason, it’s used with success in natural therapies for eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.
Bacopa acts as an antioxidant for protection against degenerative illnesses common with age. Research suggests bacopa can even protect the liver from damage related to toxin exposure.
Other studies find it helps with pain, improving the effectiveness of opioid drugs while reducing the “high” and risk for dependency.
A brahmi infused oil is widely used in Ayurveda for pain relief for arthritis and rheumatism, and to prevent hair loss.
In China, Bacopa is used to promote fertility and to fight impotence and premature ejaculation. It also supports nervous system health for people with epilepsy.
Some research suggests bacopa can lower blood pressure and could possibly guard against hypoglycemia reactions in newborns.
When looking for bacopa, choose organic when possible. Like most water plants, bacopa easily absorbs toxins present in its natural environment.
Organically grown bacopa or bacopa grown in pristine areas is best. Bacopa works well by itself or in combination with other herbs.
Brahmi tea is a traditional remedy for people who want to improve concentration without caffeine.
You can make Brahmi tea by adding 1 tsp. of dried bacopa to 8 oz of purified water. Just heat for 10-15 minutes before straining and serving.
You may want to add a small amount of natural sweetener like raw honey or agave syrup since bacopa is a bit bitter.
I like Bacopa in a Calm Mind formula with Ashwagandha, St. John’s Wort, Passionflower, Hops, and Lavender.
You will notice the “calm focus” of bacopa right away. I find it really helps before meditation or a big work project.
Bacopa is one herb that can truly transform your mind and your health.