Bacopa Monnieri

December 7, 2020

Bacopa monnieri is a herb grown in wet marshy lands. For this reason, it is also called water hyssop. It is common in Southeastern Asia and some parts of India. Bacopa monnieri, also called Brahmi, has been used in Indian traditional medicine for treating several health conditions. In the past, bacopa monnieri herbs were recommended to Ayurvedic devotees to help them memorize long texts.

As time progressed, people began to use bacopa monnieri for treating anxiety problems, depression, and stress. It has become a popular nootropic following bits of scientific evidence that the herb might help with memory and cognition. 

The active ingredient in bacopa monnieri is the compound Bacoside A. Its powerful effects have been attributed to the fact that it can easily penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB). 

How does it work?

Boost acetylcholine levels

Bacopa is essential to brain function in several ways. One important method of action is by increasing acetylcholine levels in the synapses in two major ways. Bacopa monnieri inhibits the action of acetylcholinesterase, the enzyme which catalyzes the destruction of acetylcholine. Acetylcholine is an important neurotransmitter for several brain and motor functions.  Increased levels mean improved brain activity. 

Improves synaptic connections

Bacopa might affect the branching of nerve axons, in turn, helping the connection between different parts of the nervous system. This is important for proper communication between regions of the brain and probably memory. Bacopa monnieri is also believed to promote nerve cell growth and proliferation.

Modulates Superoxide Dismutase (SOD) levels 

Free radicals can exist in the form of Superoxide Dismutase in the body. Accumulation of these compounds in the body might lead to cell damage and oxidative stress. The neuroprotective functions of bacopa monnieri are achieved via fighting off these substances that might damage cells and affect brain structure and function. 

Mood enhancing action

The nootropic effects of bacopa monnieri also make it helpful in mood elevation. This is probably achieved by stimulating two important neurotransmitter systems in the body: dopaminergic and the serotonergic systems. Both hormonal systems control the mood; an increase or decrease in the levels affects the mood. Bacopa boosts dopamine and serotonin levels, so it has a positive effect on a person’s mood. 

Adaptogenic effect

Bacopa has a potent effect in reducing stress levels in the body, helping the body cope with stressors. This is called the adaptogenic effect. Normally, during stress, cortisol levels are elevated. Bacopa has been found to reduce cortisol levels in the blood, which is probably the reason for the adaptogenic effect. The active compound in Bacopa monnieri that activates these reactions is bacoside.


  • Neuroprotection: Animal studies reveal that bacoside acts as an antioxidant in the body to protect cells from oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals attack the cell membranes and try to destroy it. The function of bacoside (the active substance in bacopa) helps the cells to cope without damage. This helps to preserve the structure and function of the brain.
  • Memory and cognition: The action of bacoside in fostering neural communication and promoting nerve cell branching ensures that pathways for new memories are created and made stronger. This is necessary for engraving memories. Bacopa monnieri is believed to increase blood flow to the brain, which, in turn, means increased oxygen levels and reduced accumulation of waste. This function is important for brain cell activity, such as thinking and memory. Another way to improve memory and attention is when bacopa stimulates increased levels of acetylcholine. 
  • Relieving stress: Taking bacopa monnieri extracts during a cognitive task may reduce stress levels by helping your body adapt. This is achieved by bacoside action in reducing blood levels of cortisol, the so-called stress hormone; when cortisol levels are high, stress increases.
  • Treating anxiety and depression: Studies have shown decreased levels of anxiety in people after taking bacopa extracts. Bacoside might help set off the serotonergic system of neurons, important for elevating the mood at high levels. Dopaminergic neurons can be activated by the substance too, and its effect can be euphoric. 



There is no such thing as the universal dose for bacopa monnieri. This is because the dosage of most drugs depends on individual factors such as gender, size, and medical history. 

However, there is a guideline to follow. You may like to take the lowest dosage that works for you and take for up to a few days rather than just once. It’s more effective that way. 

The normal daily dosage falls in the range of 200-400 mg of bacopa monnieri containing about 45-55% bacoside for most people. At this level, side effects are minimized, though it is advised you take it with food to avoid gastrointestinal disturbances.


Bacopa monnieri is a medicinal herb with a good deal of nootropic effects. It is gradually growing to become a popular choice amongst nootropic lovers. It agrees with the body at good levels and gives you the desired push through your day. It works best with a good diet, especially fatty food, for better absorption. A daily exercise routine may help to boost its effects too. 




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