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5 Health Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri

Brahmi is a staple plant in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, also known as Bacopa monnieri.

For centuries, Ayurvedic medical practitioners have used Bacopa monnieri for its health benefits, including memory recovery, anxiety reduction, and epilepsy treatment.

1. Prevents Anxiety and Stress

bacopa monnieri can prevent anxiety and depression. It is called an adaptogenic herb, which means it increases the resilience of your body to stress (1).

Research on the health benefits of bacopa monnieri suggests it may help reduce stress and anxiety by elevating the mood and reducing cortisol levels, a hormone associated with stress (2).

One rat study shows that the anti-anxiety effects of Bacopa monnieri are like those of lorazepam (benzodiazepine), a prescription drug for anxiety treatment (3).

The results of bacopa monnieri on anxiety are, however, conflicting.

Two human studies, for example, showed that taking 300 mg of bacopa monnieri daily reduced anxiety and depression in adults over 12 weeks compared to a placebo (4, 5).

Another human study found that anxiety was not reduced by treatment with bacopa monnieri (6).

To validate bacopa monnieri health benefits, we need more large-scale human studies.

2. Enhances Brain Function

Research suggests Bacopa monnieri may improve brain function.

One research in mice, for example, found that supplementing with Bacopa monnieri enhanced their spatial learning and knowledge processing capacity (7).

The same study also found that the length and branching of dendritic increased (7).

Dendrites are portions of the brain’s nerve cells associated with learning and memory.

In addition, a 12-week study of 46 healthy adults found that taking 300 mg of bacopa monnieri daily improved the speed of visual information processing, learning levels, and memory compared with placebo treatment (8).

Another 12-week study in 60 older adults showed that, compared to a placebo, taking either 300 mg or 600 mg of bacopa monnieri extract daily improved memory, focus, and ability to process information (9).

In addition, bacopa monnieri may also ease symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

3. Lowers Blood Pressure

High blood pressure is a major health problem because it puts stress on your heart and blood vessels. This can weaken the heart and increase the risk of heart disease (10, 11).

Research suggests that bacopa monnieri can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Bacopa monnieri decreased the levels of systolic and diastolic blood pressure in one animal study (12, 13).

It achieved this by releasing nitric oxide which helps dilate blood vessels, leading to better blood flow and lower blood pressure.

Another study showed that bacopa monnieri lowered levels of blood pressure in rats with elevated levels, but had no effect on rats with normal levels of blood pressure (14).

One 12-week study in 54 older adults found that taking 300 mg of bacopa monnieri daily had no effect on blood pressure levels (4).

Based on current findings, in animals with high blood pressure, bacopa monnieri can lower blood pressure. To validate these results, we need further human research.

4. Reduces Inflammation

Inflammation is the natural reaction of your body to help heal and fight disease. Several chronic conditions, including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, have been associated with chronic inflammation (15).

In test-tube studies, bacopa monnieri suppresses the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines (16, 17).

Molecules that induce an inflammatory immune response. It also blocked enzymes including cyclooxygenase, caspase, and lipoxygenase in a test tube and animal studies, all of which play key roles in inflammation and pain (16, 17, 18).

Bacopa monnieri had anti-inflammatory benefits in animal studies similar to diclofenac and indomethacin, which are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications for inflammation treatment (18, 19).

To determine whether bacopa monnieri reduces inflammation in humans, we need further research.

5. Contains Antioxidants

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect against cell damage from harmful molecules known as free radicals.

Research suggests that many chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, are associated with damage caused by free radicals (20).

Bacopa monnieri produces strong antioxidant compounds. For example, bacosides, the main active compounds in bacopa monnieri, neutralize free radicals and prevent the reaction of fat molecules to free radicals (21).

They undergo a process called lipid peroxidation as fat molecules react with free radicals.

There are several diseases associated with lipid peroxidation, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and other neurodegenerative disorders (22, 23).

A research study, for example, found that bacopa monnieri decreased free radical damage and reversed memory loss signs in rats (24).

Safety and Side Effects

Although bacopa monnieri is safe, some people may experience side effects. It can cause digestive symptoms, including nausea, cramps of the stomach, and diarrhea, for example (25).

For pregnant women, bacopa monnieri is not recommended as no studies have tested the efficacy of its use during pregnancy (26).

It may also interfere with certain drugs, including amitriptyline, a medication used to relieve pain.

Speak to your health care provider before taking bacopa monnieri if you are taking other drugs (27).

Bacopa monnieri is safe, but nausea, stomach cramps, and diarrhea can occur in some people.

Conclusion

For many illnesses, bacopa monnieri is an ancient herbal remedy from Ayurveda. Human studies show that it can help improve brain function and reduce stress and anxiety.

In addition, test-tube and animal studies have found that it may have anticancer properties and decrease inflammation and blood pressure.

While these potential health benefits are encouraging, there is a need for more work on bacopa monnieri to understand its full impact on human health.

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