Bacopa, also known as brahmi, water hyssop, and Bacopa manniera, is native to India. It grows in marshy areas and is a water plant. Most parts of the plant have been used traditionally In Ayurvedic medicine (traditional medicine of India) as a diuretic, nervous system health, heart health, asthma and epilepsy.
The active components of the leaves are saponins, including bacosides. Bacosides are presumed to enhance the effects of neurotransmitters acetylcholine, serotoin and GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid). Bacopa extracts appear to be strong antioxidants in the brain and may help protect brain cells. In studies bacosides have been found to enhance higher cognitive functions, memory and learning ability when taken for 3 to 12 weeks in comparison to placebo. In other studies it has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression. Bacopa has also been shown to relax the muscles in the airways of the respiratory tract, possibly explaining its traditional use in asthma.
Bacopa supplements can be found as a dried herb, in powdered form and capsules. Bacopa should always be taken as directed by the manufacturer although traditionally 5 to 10 grams per day of powdered herb have been used; and in human studies 300-450 mg per day has been used. Bacopa tends to be well tolerated when taken in the traditional amounts although there have been reports of dry mouth, nausea and muscle fatigue. Always refer to your physician before taking supplements, especially when giving supplements to children, pregnant women or breast-feeding moms.
Garby, Alan, et al. The Natural Pharmacy, 3rd edition, 2006
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