Bacopa Benefits

Bacopa - an ancient Ayurvedic herb used for centuries to improve memory, reduce anxiety and even treat epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. And now turning up in our dietary supplements! But what does the evidence say about the long list of health benefits associated with Bacopa? That’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

Key Takeaways

  • Bacopa is a herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries to treat a variety of issues, mainly associated with brain health but also including epilepsy, hypertension, asthma and arthritis.
  • High quality clinical evidence in to the health benefits of bacopa is limited.
  • Based on current findings, bacopa may have potential benefits for cognitive health, reducing stress, symptoms of anxiety and depression, cardiovascular health as well as antimicrobial effects.

What Is Bacopa?

Bacopa, scientifically called bacopa monnieri and also known as water hyssop, herb of grace, or Brahmi (although not to be confused with another plant, gotu kola, which is also sometimes called brahmi) is a herb that has been used for centuries as a traditional Ayurvedic medicine. (Source)

A small plant that grows in marshy areas all over Asia as well as in South America, Hawaii, and Florida, bacopa is known as a “tonic for the human brain“.

Bacopa’s active ingredients, called bacosides, are believed to protect nerve cells and improve learning. The plant is also thought to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects and is taken for the purpose of improving cognitive function, stress relief, and a general enhancement of vitality. (Source)

The plant can be used in several ways:

  • Eaten as an herb
  • Dried and made into a powder that is often mixed with butter
  • As a dietary supplement in pill or capsule form
Bacopa Brahmi Leaf

Bacopa Benefits

There is a long list of health benefits associated with Bacopa. These include:

  • Improvement in memory and learning
  • Treatment of epilepsy, neurosis, hypertension, anxiety, asthma, leprosy, tuberculosis, and skin diseases
  • Slowing down aging
  • Prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease
  • Improvement in digestion
  • Treatment of snake bites

Ayurvedic medicine is a system of traditional medicine native to India. It is one of the world’s oldest medical systems and remains one of India’s traditional healthcare systems.

Although there is scientific evidence to support many Ayurvedic practices, due to Ayurvedic medicine evolving over thousands of years, it relies more on traditional knowledge and evidence of the history of use rather than evidence from clinical trials. This means the quantity and quality of clinical evidence for Ayurvedic techniques can be limited at times. (Source)

Nonetheless, in this article, we will explore the clinical evidence-based benefits of Bacopa.

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What Is In Bacopa?

The key compounds in bacopa include:


Bacosides are the main active compounds in bacopa and are thought to be mainly responsible for bacopa’s health benefits. (Source)

Bacosides have been seen to have antioxidant effects, especially in the brain.

Research shows that this antioxidant activity plays an essential role in the health of our neurons (the nerve cells in our brain), protecting them from harm.

These bacosides have also indicated promising anti-cancer activity for certain types of brain cancer. (Source)


Bacopa also contains compounds called alkaloids, which are well-known for their anti-inflammatory properties.

Research shows that Bacopa alkaloids exhibit anti-inflammatory properties in the brain, as well as other parts of the nervous system. (Source)

These anti-inflammatory properties could play a role in reducing inflammation in the nervous system which in turn could have a positive effect on various brain disorders.


Flavonoids are a group of compounds found in many plants, including bacopa.

Researchers believe flavonoids may protect our brain cells by reducing cell-damaging free radicals,  soothing inflammation, and enhancing blood flow.

A recent study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition linked high flavonoid intake with a decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. (Source)

What Are The Benefits Of Bacopa?

It is important to note that evidence of the health benefits of bacopa is limited.

Research into the benefits of bacopa thus far has mainly been conducted in cells and animals, and while there have been some human studies carried out, many of them are small and not of great quality.

While the research still has a way to go, what we know so far can still be helpful.

Let’s take a look at what the existing research shows.

Brainstorm and emotive cognitive concept

Cognitive Benefits

Memory And Learning

There is research to suggest that bacopa may improve memory and learning.

A study in rats with dementia showed that bacopa reduced free radical damage and reversed signs of memory impairment. (Source)

There have been some human studies that showed supplementation with bacopa daily:

  • improved the speed of processing visual information, learning rate, and memory (Source)
  • improved memory, attention, and the ability to process information (Source)

However, a recent analysis of all data on this subject could not conclude that bacopa improves memory as the results tended to be inconsistent across different tests and scenarios. (Source)

More extensive and well-designed clinical trials are still necessary.

Supporting Focus And Attention

There is some research to suggest that bacopa might play a role in supporting focus and attention as it has been seen to reduce symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adolescents.

One small study in children aged 6-12 years found that daily supplementation with bacopa significantly reduced ADHD symptoms, such as restlessness, poor self-control, inattention, and impulsivity. (Source)

A similar, slightly larger study in males aged 6-14 years demonstrated that bacopa supplementation was significantly beneficial for the symptoms of ADHD and suggestive of cognitive improvement. (Source)

Promoting Mental Resilience

Bacopa may also help to reduce stress and anxiety. It contains adaptogens, which are active ingredients in certain plants that help our bodies to manage stress and restore balance after a stressful situation. (Source)

One study suggests that bacopa imparts this anti-stress and anti-anxiety effect by reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone that is closely linked to stress levels. (Source)

Most human studies on bacopa’s effect on stress and anxiety show mixed results.

However, a study in rodents did show that bacopa had anti-anxiety effects comparable to those of lorazepam (benzodiazepine), a prescription medication used to treat anxiety. (Source)

And a study in humans that explored the effect of bacopa on people diagnosed with anhedonia, which is the inability to find pleasure in things you used to enjoy and a common symptom of depression and other brain-related conditions, found significant improvements in those who took bacopa alongside their antidepressant medication compared to those who took the medication alone. (Source)

Neuroprotective Effects

Antioxidant Properties

As mentioned, bacopa has an antioxidant effect on the body. This is thought to be mainly due to the bacosides in bacopa, as well as certain alcoholic extracts.

It is this antioxidant activity that has been seen to protect the brain against oxidative damage. (Source)

Many studies have indicated the antioxidant potential of bacopa in helping to mitigate the adverse effects of oxidative stress in neurons. (Source)

This neuroprotective effect may have a positive impact on age-related cognitive decline. There is evidence from animal studies that suggest bacopa may have anti-Alzheimer’s properties. (Source)

When it comes to studies in humans, one meta-analysis found people with Alzheimer’s disease who supplemented with 600 mg of bacopa daily did experience positive benefits. However, although these results are promising, this was a small study and was not placebo-controlled, making it low-quality evidence. (Source)

Results from another clinical trial also suggest that bacopa may be helpful to people with Alzheimer’s.

In this trial, patients took a herbal supplement that included bacopa and experienced effects similar to those of standard Alzheimer’s treatment, Aricept (donepezil). In people without Alzheimer’s disease, the herbal mix also seemed to improve results in brain function exams compared to a placebo. (Source)

However, in this study bacopa was combined with other herbs, making it difficult to know if bacopa is directly responsible for the results.

These results are positive, but further high-quality and extensive research is still necessary.

Reduction In Inflammation

Research suggests bacopa has an anti-inflammatory effect. (Source)

In test-tube studies, bacopa appeared to suppress the release of certain pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that stimulate an inflammatory immune response, as well as enzymes that play key roles in inflammation and pain. (Source)

Studies in animals have supported these findings, but more research is needed to determine whether bacopa reduces inflammation in humans. (Source)

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Cardiovascular Health Benefits

Blood Pressure Regulation

There is research to suggest that Bacopa may provide benefits to cardiovascular health by helping to keep blood pressure within a healthy range.

One study in rats showed bacopa reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure levels. By releasing nitric oxide, which helps dilate blood vessels, bacopa improved blood flow and lowered blood pressure. (Source)

Another study showed that bacopa significantly lowered blood pressure levels in rats that had elevated levels. (Source)

However, one small 12-week study in healthy older adults found that taking 300 mg of bacopa daily had no effect on blood pressure levels. (Source)

While bacopa may lower blood pressure in animals with high blood pressure levels, more research is required to confirm these effects in humans.

Cholesterol Management

Another study in rats found that bacopa may have beneficial effects on hypercholesterolemia.

In this study, rats with high cholesterol levels that were given bacopa extract had significantly lower levels of cholesterol and blood lipids.

Levels of “bad” cholesterol LDL and VLDL were reduced, while levels of HDL, or “good” cholesterol increased. (Source)

These changes are all conducive to a reduction in cardiovascular disease risk.

However, more research is needed to investigate the potential effects of bacopa on cholesterol levels in humans.

Antimicrobial Effects

Research investigating the antimicrobial effects of bacopa suggests its potential use as an anti-infective agent against various types of bacteria and fungus. (Source)

It is thought that compounds of bacopa such as flavonoids contribute to this antimicrobial activity.

Various extracts of bacopa have been seen to possess antimicrobial properties against human pathogenic organisms, making bacopa extracts a potential antimicrobial agent. In fact, a recent test-tube study showed bacopa to be effective against urinary tract infections (UTIs). (Source)

bacopa tea

Is Bacopa Safe To Take?

Bacopa is safe to take for most people. (Source)

Some people may experience side effects including diarrhea, increased stool frequency, nausea, and cramps in the abdomen. (Source)

Bacopa is not recommended during pregnancy or lactation as no studies have assessed the safety of its use in these groups.

It is also imperative to consult a healthcare professional before taking bacopa if you are taking any other medications, as bacopa may interact with them negatively.

Bacopa may interact with:

  • Amitriptyline, a medication used for pain relief (Source)
  • Aricept or any Alzheimer’s disease medications
  • Anticholinergic medications such as oxybutynin
  • Anti-inflammatory medications including ibuprofen
  • Other anxiolytics or mood medication

How Much Bacopa Should I Take?

Bacopa is available in several forms, including capsules and powders, and as part of multi-ingredient supplements.

The research reports doses ranging between 200-600 mg, with a most landing between 300-450 mg. However, dosage recommendations can vary widely depending on the product you purchase. (Source)

Currently, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage of bacopa to take for any condition. More high-quality clinical trials are necessary before determining this.

If you are interested in taking a Bacopa product, follow the label instructions or consult with a healthcare professional regarding dosage.

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In Summary

Bacopa is a herb that has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries for a variety of purposes, including improving memory, reducing anxiety, treating epilepsy, and treating arthritis.

Because of these purported health benefits, bacopa is now being included in dietary supplements.

However, clinical trials into the effectiveness of bacopa for various health issues are limited.

Current evidence suggests that bacopa may be beneficial when it comes to cognitive benefits such as enhancing memory and learning, supporting focus, reducing stress and symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as neuroprotective effects.

There is also a small amount of evidence to support its benefits on cardiovascular health and its antimicrobial effects.

Overall, more high-quality clinical trials are necessary to better assess the effectiveness of Bacopa.

Human Tonik’s Supergreen Tonik contains bacopa extracts and can be a good option for introducing bacopa into your diet if you are interested.

Bacopa is considered safe to take and is typically taken in amounts that range between 300-450 mg daily. But as with many medications and natural products, side effects and medication interactions are possible so it is important to consult a health professional before taking bacopa if you have any existing medical issues or are taking any other medication or health supplements.

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