Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) is a nootropic herb used to enhance memory and revitalize brain function. It is classified as medhya rasayana or ‘brain tonic’ in Ayurveda due to its rejuvenative properties on the nervous system, and has traditionally been given to children to boost brain power.
Bacopa has been demonstrated to improve memory formation and learning in healthy young people as well as older adults suffering from memory loss. Its main mechanism of action is enhancing communication between neurons by increasing the growth of nerve endings, called dendrites. Studies also suggest that Brahmi increases the production and availability of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter critical for memory, cognition, and attention that is depleted in Alzheimer’s disease. Human and animal research on Bacopa indicates that its benefits are cumulative and build up over routine use.
In addition to strengthening connections between nerve cells, helping them create memory maps and fire more quickly and efficiently, Bacopa is a powerful antioxidant that increases levels of defense enzymes such as glutathione and Superoxide Dismutase in the brain. It has also been shown to remove toxins and free radicals from inside neurons and help repair their mitochondria. This is significant because not only are the mitochondria the body’s power centers, converting energy into a form cells can use, but they also control the process of apoptosis, a cell’s lifecycle. By switching on antioxidant machinery inside cells that repairs mitochondria, bacopa helps prevent oxidative damage and early neuron death. These neuroprotective effects have been seen with aluminum, mercury and iron. Bacopa has also been observed to protect dopamine cells and prevent beta-amyloid buildup, making it a promising candidate for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s therapy.
Bacopa’s anti-oxidizing effects have been implicated in reducing neural inflammation, and it also supports brain health by improving blood flow and oxygen delivery to the brain. As an adaptogen, it is protective against acute and chronic stress and has been shown to reduce biomarkers of stress in all brain regions, including the hippocampus, cortex and cerebellum. Bacopa works synergistically with gotu kola and several other brain healing herbs in Amrita Anti-Aging Brain Food.