Bacopa is a great Neurotonic

* By Prof. Dr. Sanjeev Sood


ImageBacopa is a great neurotonic, immuno-modulator, adaptogen, tranquilizing, memory and learning enhancing, cerebral activator, anti-ulcer, antispasmodic, anti-asthmatic ayurvedic herb. Other benefits are anti-allergic, free radicals scavenging effect and as herbal supplement in Epilepsy, anxiety and depression.

Know its beneficial actions on brain, memory, mental deficiency, Alzheimer's disease, learning skills, anxiety, depression, stress, epileps and ADHD children.
In a double blind randomized placebo controlled research study in Australia, at University of Wollongong, this ayurvedic botanical was found to be effective in tests for retention of new information.
In another similar study mentioned in Neuropsychopharmacology, its effects were documented for several weeks and various memory functions were tested with levels of anxiety. The study revealed the same - B. monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting of newly acquired information, verbal learning rate and memory consolidation.
In yet another study, the long term administration of B. monnieri showed significant improvement in speed of visual information processing by IT task, learning rate and memory consolidation as compared to placebo. There was improvement in higher order cognitive functions that depend on memory, learning and environmental factors.
However the single dose of this medicinal herb doesn't show any improvement in cognitive or memory functions. The dosage in the above two studies was 300 mg of B. monnieri extracts daily.
Triterpenoid saponins and Bacosides of B. monnieri play key role for enhancing nerve impulse transmission. Bacosides support the repair of damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, restoration and regeneration of synaptic activity resulting in nerve impulse transmission. These effects make it a wonderful nerve tonic or nerve nourishing agent as against the neuroleptic drugs that modulate the behavior.
In a study on this its effects on children, it showed significant improvement in exploratory drive, improved perceptual image of patterns and increased perceptual organization and reasoning ability.
During International Brain Research Conference in Australia 1996, CDRI scientists presented that B. monnieri reduced the time to learn specific task to six days while the control group took ten days to learn the same task.
Bacopa In Mild To Moderate Mental Deficiency: B. monnieri was tested on men with mild to moderate mental deficiency. 172 persons received B. monnieri 500 mg of extract thrice a day while 114 persons received placebo for one year. At the end of study, there was improvement in concentration ability, memory span, and overall mental performance in individuals taking the extract as compared with placebo group.
There was improvement in the performance of school children with poor educational performance.
Alzheimer's Disease And Bacopa: Loss of cholinergic activity in hippocampus was the primary cause of Alzheimer's disease. B. monnieri showed important antioxidant activity in many brain parts like hippocampus, striatum and frontal cortex. Further studies showed its protective effect against DNA damage in cells. All this suggest its important role in Alzheimer's and at least it could be useful in checking the progression of this disease to some extent.
Bacopa In Epilepsy: Despite its mention as anti-epilepsy role it was found to exert this effect only on very high doses over long periods. Research in India found its saponin to exert some anticonvulsant effect. So it could better be used as an adjuvant in treatment of Epilepsy.
Anti-epilepsy drugs as Phenytoin have some side effects as cognitive impairment. Simultaneous administration of this botanical with phenytoin improved acquisition and retention of memory. B. monnieri extracts have corrective effect on phenytoin induced cognitive deficit.
Bacopa Improving Learning Skills: In this research trial, the animals were trained in T maze. One group wasn't given any medicine, second group was given Diazepam and third, fourth and fifth group received this ayurvedic herb. After 10 days there was comparable memory and learning enhancement in the group treated with B. monnieri. Biochemical studies found the Serotonin content of B. monnieri groups to be more compared to control group and the other group.
All the anti-depressants produce two effects - the augmentation of the effect of Norepinephrine and Seotonin by blocking their intracellular depletion. It is not clear how B. monnieri produced this effect of increasing Serotonin content. But in future as the understanding of these neurochemicals would grow, B. monnieri might emerge as the standard and natural treatment for anxiety and depression.
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