Medicinal plants: Bacopa enhances memory and protects neurons

Bacopa is an Asian plant that has been used medicinally for thousands of years to enhance intellectual abilities such as memory and learning. It could also prevent the degeneration of neurons.

A review of studies presented by the pharmacist expert in nutrition and medicinal plants Anna Pare at the XII Phytotherapy Congress, held in Oviedo, shows the beneficial effects of Bacopa monnieri on the brain. According to the doctor, supplementation with standardized dry extract improves attention, memory and learning in healthy adults, in older people with mild cognitive impairment and in children and adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. It also increases neuronal plasticity and the levels of well-being neurotransmitters such as serotonin, acetylcholine and GABA acid.

Bacopa, which is also known as water hyssop, is an adaptogenic plant, that is, it stimulates the body”s response, especially the brain and nervous system, to stressful situations, improving physical and mental performance. Originally from Asia, traditional Indian medicine has been used for over 2,000 years in small doses in the treatment of epilepsy and asthma.


In the Hindi language, the combination of bacopa and gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is called “brahmi”, which means “energy of universal consciousness”. Legend has it that ancient Hindu sages took brahmi to memorize the very long sacred texts.

The action of bacopa is based on its complex chemical composition, where alkaloid substances and especially triterpenic saponins called bacosides stand out, which improve communication between neurons, which especially benefits long-term memory.

In tests carried out with laboratory animals with Alzheimer”s disease, it has been observed that bacopa extract can reduce beta-amyloid deposits, which suggests that it could be useful in the prevention and complementary treatment of this neurodegenerative disease, although they do not yet exist investigations with people who confirm it.


A study published in the journal Psychopharmacology, conducted with 46 healthy adults, who were administered 300 mg of dry extract with 55% bacosides daily for 12 weeks, shows that bacopa significantly improves the speed of visual information processing, learning rate, memory consolidation, and anxiety status compared to placebo.

Drs Morgans and Stevens administered 300 mg of bacopa daily to 81 elderly Australians and observed very significant improvements in verbal learning, memory acquisition and delayed memory loss. In summary, clinical research shows that bacopa is effective in decreasing the rate of forgetting (especially of verbal material).

Bacopa is traditionally taken with ghee (clarified butter) because the fat increases the absorption of its active ingredients.

It is a safe plant, of which no contraindications have been described and it does not present significant side effects at the doses used. In some cases nausea and other mild intestinal discomfort may appear.

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