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Bacopa Monnieri’s effects on memory : Scientific & Anecdotal evidence, Reddit user experiences

Introduction

Bacopa monnieri is probably the best known cognitive-enhancers and rejuvenators recognized since ancient times in the Ayurvedic medicine. Bacopa monnieri Linn or Brahmi, a plant in the family Scrophulariaceae, has been employed in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for centuries. It has been reported as a nerve tonic and thoroughly put to use as remedy for a variety of neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases. Current research has revealed it’s an all-around valuable herb for the mind and body, although more clinical trials are needed.

Experts suggest that Bacopa may possibly enhance specific brain chemicals that are associated with thinking, learning, comprehension and memory.

Ayurvedic experts put this herb in the category of “medhya rasayana” – an herb taken to hone the intellect and improve mental deficits. Quite simply, bacopa is perhaps one of the oldest-known nootropics in the world.

Ancient Vedic scholars are known to make use of Bacopa monnieri to comprehensively memorize extensive sacred hymns and scriptures. They often bundled it with other intended intellect-sharpening herbal treatments like Gotu Kola. Formulations with bacopa are likewise regularly recommended by experts for cognitive dysfunction in Ayurveda

BM was originally identified around the 6th century A.D. in texts as the Charaka Samhita, Athar-Ved, and Susrutu Samhita as a medhya rasayana–class supplement used for sharpening intellect and attenuate mental deficits.

How does Bacopa Monnieri work?

The primary mechanisms of cognitive action of Bacopa seems to be by boosting two key neurotransmitters in the brain: acetylcholine and GABA. Consequently, it may allow you to be feeling relaxed and mentally-stimulated concurrently. Consistent with whatever research has been done along with some anecdotal evidence, it may be a great supplement for reducing stress and improving memory and learning – especially if you’re older. It also appears to improve antioxidant defense, defending the body against oxidative damage.

Specifically, bacopa has dual boosting action: it suppresses acetylcholinesterase–the enzyme that breaks acetylcholine down, and stimulates choline acetyltransferase–the enzyme that releases acetylcholine [These mechanisms were observed & outlined in a clinical study].

It’s important to keep in mind that Acetylcholine (ACh) plays an important role in memory function.

The Role of Acetylcholine in Learning and Memory :- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2659740/
Acetylcholine: Working on Working Memory (Alzheimer’s Disease) :- https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/scitranslmed.3003583
Cholinergic modulation of the hippocampal region and memory function :- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5645066/
The role of acetylcholine in learning and memory :- https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S095943880600122X

Bacopa Monnieri also shows anti-oxidant, hepatoprotective, and neuroprotective activity. As more & more research is done on this herb, several mechanisms of action — acetylcholinesterase inhibition, choline acetyltransferase activation, ß-amyloid reduction, increased cerebral blood flow, and monoamine potentiation have been observed. (Source : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/ )

As opposed to the potentially addicting and forceful action of popular psychostimulants, chronic and reasonable intake of BM appears to help nourishment of neurons, long term, rather than depletion of neurons, a long-term memory benefit that is at par with 1400 years of Ayurvedic study.

Bacopa may also enhance serotonin and GABA in the hippocampus. Serotonin boosts mood, GABA heightens feelings of calmness, and the hippocampus is the brain’s center for memory and emotions [Source : https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/].

One group of researchers found that bacopa may help neurons branch out. They showed increased dendritic branching – dendrites being the parts of neurons that send out information and facts by attaching with other neurons. Better-branched neurons may well improve grasping new concepts and strong memory retention.

Furthermore, bacosides in the plant are anti-inflammatory. They lower inflammatory cytokines and iNOS manufacturing in the brain, as reported by studies in rats.[ Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22198697/].

Scientific evidence on memory boosting abilities of Bacopa Monnieri

1. Bacopa increased cognitive function and decreased anxiety and depression in 54 people over 65 years of age. In a different trial of 98 people over 55 years of age, 300 mg/d of bacopa extract improved learning and memory [Source 1, Source 2].

2. It has been proven that use of B. monnieri at a dose of 300 mg per day can improve logical memory, paired associated learning, and cerebral control in age-associated memory impairment (AAMI) people with no severe uncomfortable side effects. Still, “flu-like symptoms” and “digestive problems” were also observed [Source : Google Scholar].

3. Bacopa monniera attenuates scopolamine-induced impairment of spatial memory in mice

A. Anand, M. K. Saraf, S. Prabhakar, and K. L. Khanduja, “Bacopa monniera attenuates scopolamine-induced impairment of spatial memory in mice,” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2011, Article ID 236186, 10 pages, 2011.

4. Brahmi rasayana improves learning and memory in mice

H. Joshi and M. Parle, “Brahmi rasayana improves learning and memory in mice,” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 3, no. 1, pp. 79–85, 2006.

5. Bacopa increases cognitive function, attention, and reaction time, as reported by a review of 9 studies and over 500 people

6. Bacopa strengthens language skills and symptoms of hyperactivity and attention-deficit in children and adolescents, based on another review

7. Bacopa upgraded cognitive function and reduced anxiety and depression in 54 people over 65 years of age. In some other study of 98 people over 55 years of age, 300 mg/d of bacopa extract improved learning and memory.

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153866/
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480

8. Bacopa furthermore increased memory in a study of 76 people aged 40 to 65 years. After taking Bacopa, the participants were considerably far better at recalling & remembering new information.

9. Bacopa leaf extracts substantially elevated learning and memory in rats. They also preserved good memory in mice given drugs that induce brain damage and amnesia. One of the tested drugs it safeguarded against was diazepam (Valium), an anti-anxiety medication recognized to build “brain fog”-like side effects over time.

Sources:

10. One mouse investigation indicated bacopa sharpens memory by triggering the GABA pathway – aside from its primary acetylcholine-boosting action [ http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00213-007-1049-8 ].

11. Bacopa also offers pro-dopaminergic mechanisms, and dopamine has positive effects on memory:-

Bacopa accelerates tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the enzyme that converts L-dopa to dopamine. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23402822 )

Some substances in Bacopa slow down monoamine oxidase, an enzyme that breaks down dopamine. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/24449518/ )

12. A systematic review of studies also shows that consumption of B. monnieri at doses of 300–450 mg/day can enhance memory recall.

M. P. Pase, J. Kean, J. Sarris, C. Neale, A. B. Scholey, and C. Stough, “The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials,” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 18, no. 7, pp. 647–652, 2012.

13. In line with the data extracted from animal studies of our groups, it was identified that B. monnieri at amounts of 20–80 mg/kg BW could improve neuron density in the hippocampus, the place instrumental in fundamental role of learning and memory. The most effective benefit was seen at a dose of 40 mg/kg BW. This safe human equivalent dose (HED) was calculated with a safety factor of 4 because this plant is quite safe. LD50 via oral route was approximately 17 g/kg BW.

Sources:

14. One clinical study verified the health advantages of Bacopa monnieri for the healthy & aged. No toxicity or unintended side effects were discovered during this experiment. It evidently showed that B. monnieri inhibits AChE activity causing increased cholinergic functionality, which experts claim promotes focus and memory processing and strengthens working memory.

Analyzing the influence of B. monnieri on attention, cognitive refinement, working memory, and cholinergic and monoaminergic attributes in healthy elderly, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled design was implemented. The cholinergic and monoaminergic systems functions were determined using AChE and MAO activities. Working memory was examined using percent accuracy and reaction time of various memory tests as indices.

B. monnieri-treated group showed improved working memory together with a decrease in both N100 and P300 latencies. The suppression of plasma AChE activity was also observed. These outcomes suggest that B. monnieri can enhance attention, cognitive processing, and working memory in part by suppression of AChE activity.

This has specific benefits for the elderly, since mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early phase Alzheimer’s disease occur as a consequence of cholinergic weakening and oxidative stress, this plant extract may offer an edge by cutting down memory impairment in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and early-phase Alzheimer’s disease and quite possibly in attention deficit disorder. Then again, these techniques of research need further investigation.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3537209/
https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2012/606424/#conclusions

15. Bacopa considerably improved memory acquisition and retention in healthy older Australians.
[Source: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20590480/ ]

16. This analysis gives even more evidence that B. monnieri has good potential for safely making improvements to cognitive performance in the aging. Standardized extracts of B. monnieri have memory boosting potential and this effect may be because of immediate mechanism in which the dynamic agents in Bacopa monnieri act on brain chemistry to have an impact on memory processes or to greater tolerance for frustration, or due to reducing the performance-degrading effects of arousal on complex tasks, or yet some other mechanism. [Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153866/]

17. Bacopa also shows promise in boosting NGF & BDNF

Bacopa increases NGF in rat spleens: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/23076629/
Bacopa increases BDNF in rat brains: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124189/

Ideal dosage of Bacopa monnieri for memory & cognitive performance

If we go according to studies, 1400-2000 mg per day seems to be good dose for maximum cognitive enhancement. There are different kinds of doses & potencies of BM available in the market, different kinds in different price ranges & each with different potency wise.

While 150-300 mg of pure extract seems to be the most common dose, with 24% bacosides to 45% bacosides.

But the most important thing about taking bacopa monnieri is taking it consistently every day for at least a few MONTHS. For most people, it would take at least few weeks to notice some of the memory benefits, although some people might see quicker improvements in memory recall, learning & cognitive enhancement.

The highest doses can be found at cheaper prices on Amazon.com, Nootropics Depot, BulkSupplements etc. at around 5 g dose in powder form. 3-5 grams is enough to feel cognitive effects while avoiding negative side effects. Take into account that certain bacopa powders supplements may accumulate heavy metals. If you are consuming 5 grams of a bulk bacopa from Amazon, there is a VERY high likelihood you are getting exposed to higher than safe levels of heavy metals like lead etc.

Anecdotal evidences – Real Bacopa monnieri user experiences from reddit etc.

Stuff like stimulants is easy to see the effects of because it’s instantaneous and noticeable. However, substances like Bacopa that also have the potential to up or down-regulate neuronal receptors and sometimes take weeks to kick in… that’s tougher to see.

Apart from a memory enhancer, whose effects may take few days to few weeks to kick in, it’s better to use it with long term perspectives, although there have been several instances of users reporting quicker results with memory, as quicker as few days. However, some users also report lack of motivation, apathy, laziness when taking Bacopa alone, probably because of its anxiolytic (anti-anxiety & serenity effects), so it’s a good idea to take Bacopa monnieri in combination with other dopaminergic enhancing ingredients!

So, here are some reviews/experiences of real people taking Bacopa Monnieri, long term.

1. Increase in memory but came with anhedonia

I was taking 200mg for about 3 months before I started noticing the lethargy, then came the anhedonia and it really messed up my routine. It was not worth it for me, but man did I notice an increase in memory. The anhedonia was almost a self limiting mechanism.

2. Greater emotional intelligence, help with mania

People are more likely to report negative experiences. I’ve been taking baccopa for 16 days now with great success. I experienced about -%10 baseline energy levels and upset stomachs after dosing for the first week but now those effects are gone. The benefits I’ve noted are greater emotional intelligence, also I have chronic overstimulation/mania and since I started dosing I have not had one manic episode along with much better sleep and so far it’s been quite life changing for me! Haven’t noticed much in terms of memory but it’s to early to tell however I think I’m seeing a reduction in visual snow symptoms which is nice along with greater mental clarity. Don’t lose interest in a nootropic because of a few negative reports as bacopa is top tier for long term daily stack imo.

3. Stable emotions and memory improvements

From my experience, I had stomach upsets at the beginning when I started using it, but I can’t say 100% Bacopa issue, it might be food. Another – is the feeling sluggish, if you don’t do any physical exercises. Does it work for me? Hell yeah, emotions are ok, never sad or too much happiness, I also feel memory improvements, I can more easily recall random memories, of what I learnt.

4. Improved immediate working memory, attention boost and anxiolytic effects

The most important nootropic benefit I was looking for was the memory benefits. Tired was I of slaving through a semester’s worth of material only to have to restudy everything for the cumulative final. Tired was I of forcing myself to start working and stop procrastinating when I could easily take the wonderful adderall and, at the cost of my health, finish all my work without a sweat. This would be the answer to all my study complaints.

The first month: Contrary to anecdotal reports, I could definitely feel the bacopa kicking in. It acted almost as a mild downer and a definite anxiolytic. I felt calm, chilled out, and careless. Super dosing bacopa (~800 mg) magnified these acute effects. Many initial reports include drowsiness and upset stomach. Though Bacopa did make me drowsy at first, I can only think of very specific instances with stomach upset which could easily have been as a result of what I ate that day. Besides these mild effects, there was not much else for Bacopa within the first month.

The second month and now: Throughout this entire period of taking Bacopa, I would constantly test my memory to see if it was improving. One study said that memory improvement would occur only with events that occur during the influence of Bacopa and not affect memory recall on events previous to administration. To be completely honest, it is very difficult to measure how much I can and cannot remember. But I can say that when people ask me if I remember something they said the week previous, I am more likely to respond positively. I am also more lucid with conversation topics as I can tie together the flow of a conversation from one topic to another. One can assume that my immediate working memory has greatly improved.

Bacopa’s anxiolytics effects have also had a nice influence on my life. I am less nervous about social interactions especially with women or job interviews. It has gotten to the point where I really just do not care what people I don’t know think of me. It has also definitely decreased my motivations for social interaction. I dislike partying now and would much rather just sit and have conversations with friends. However, for some reason I feel more embarrassed now when something negative happens. My emotions are a little more amplified.

One of the most gratifying and prominent effects that I feel from Bacopa is the attention boost. I have a have a very strong grip on whatever I am doing. It has made reading and studying easier. I can sit and become enamored by a book. I hated reading before Bacopa. I love it now. Studying was a task before Bacopa. It still is now, because fuck studying, but once I start I am driven to finish and make it the best work I can every time. It has close similarities to Adderall in that respect.

Overall Pros and Cons for me

Pros

  • Incredible Attention – reading and studying are easy to sustain
  • Less anxiety
  • Increased working memory
  • Task orientation. Getting things done is euphoric.

Cons

  • Multitasking is a bitch — can only use focus on one thing at a time
  • a little too emotional?
  • Huge decrease in motivation and doing things – reading and studying are incredibly difficult to start
  • Oblivious to finer details
  • Staying asleep is more difficult at first

Taking Bacopa has been very fun. I have become a different person and I am enjoying this person. Fortunately, there are no serious health concerns with Bacopa and the cons are just minor details on how it affects the mind.

I hope this helped, good luck to you all.

5. Help with anxiety & memory

I’ve been taking bacopa with gotu kola at night, and ginkgo biloba in the morning. I take the bacopa in very low doses (1 capsule of Himalaya Brahmi, low bacosides content). This seems to lessen the tired effect… The anxiolysis has been amazing, I feel incredibly stable despite big stressors and I feel more motivated than I have in a long time. I’ve also noticed I can recall events in a lot of detail. I’ve had childhood and adolescence memories sporadically pop up too.

6. Help with vocabulary memory, mental clarity

I have stacked L-theanine with tyrosine for few years now. I started taking bacopa of Nature’s Answer brand since the end of November last year, for purpose of improving memory. At the first month I didn’t notice anything different. But from mid January the effects kicked in, my memory did improved a lot, I can memorize lots German vocabulary pretty fast and still can recall it after few days without practicing. Besides that I can recall things happened in the past with DETAILS! Normally I could only remember fractions. Also the mental clarity is improved, no more brain fog.

The side effect is quite substantial for me. Somehow it did kill my motivation, it’s hard to start to to thing. (But if things gets started, I can fully concentrate on it.) The second is lethargy. Even I sleep well for 7-9 hours, still feel tired throughout whole day. This also effects my workout, I cannot keep my routine longer than before. Only high dosage of caffeine can counter that. Other than that is all good for me. For the motivation part, it did come back after I stopped taking l-theanine, lethargy still there, but has been weakened. Maybe too much calmness could lead to some side effects?

7. Improved memory but decreased motivation

Basically my improved memory was cancelled out by decreased motivation. I took it for 6 months and to be honest, I would have been better off without it.

8. Felt memory effects within a month, comes with apathy, attention & calmness

So I’ve been taking Bacopa Monnieri for about a month at this point, mostly for it’s effects on memory because I used to have horrific memory but now that I’ve tried it for about a month I’ve realized the effects that it’s had on me. I’ll try to explain my experience with it so far.

I’ve heard that the memory effects take at least 8 weeks to show effect but I’ve been feeling some quite significant changes in my ability to recall events that have happened in the past month. It’s also improved the quality of these memories. This is a very nice effect that is very appreciated because I feel if i stick it out for another month my memory will improve noticeably.

One other effect that it’s had that I didn’t really expect it to have was that it made me completely apathetic. To everything. Studying, reading, music, doing anything at all. I’m completely careless to everything and my motivation to do things is very little. But when I start doing things, I don’t want to stop. It’s had a profound effect on my attention. I don’t know if the attention is because of the apathy or something but attention is another aspect that I like about Bacopa. Also due to the apathy, my anxiety is also very minimal in any situation. I completely have a fuck it attitude. Very appreciated as I used to be quite hyperactive.

It’s made me very calm, serene and genuinely carefree. When I occasionally use modafinil, I have a very focused, productive day. The only downside I see to Bacopa is the effects on motivation that it might have.

9. Improved memory without side effects

I’ve been taking Bacognize from ND for going on 19 months. No negative side effects, no lethargy, only an improved memory.

10. Improvement in working memory

I’ve been taking it sporadically for a couple of months, and have absolutely noticed an improvement in my working memory.

What Bacopa extract should I buy?

The bacopa that people often buy and the bacopa used in RCTs (clinical studies on rats) are often different. There are specific extracts that are used in the studies and people often just buy 20% or 40-50% extract from wherever. 20% extract has a fairly good chance of being significantly different, and the 40-50% extract may be different as well. Different compounds may be present in different amount depending on the extract. Overall, Synapsa/KeenMind is the extract that has truly been tested on people quite a lot with good results.

Synapsa vs. Bacognize – thoughts?

Most people on reddit seem to favour Synapsa BM extract over others, which they found to be providing more benefits – stimulating & energetic.

I found bacognize to be very sedating and depressing. Synapsa seemed to increase my energy and mood. Got completely opposite effects from the two. – jarrellt67

I used swanson’s bacognize and probably synapsa. The former wasn’t motivating at all though it helped a bit in terms of cognition. The latter was much more stimulating. Before I stopped it I had done a lot of work. – labratdream:

I felt the same effects from Bacognize.. A lot of anhedonia, sleepiness, no energy. I bought the Synapsa extract about a month ago and so far so good, I have none of those side effects with it. Granted I take it with a lot of other stuff, which is like a revolving door of supplements and nootropics but nothing too stimulating that would offset those effects, so yes I think the Synapsa extract would be worth looking into for you. – etherdesign:

Bacognize and other bacopa forms make me feel like total crap. Lethargic, grumpy, withdrawn, and wicked brain fog. But I decided to try Synapsa a few months ago and have experienced none of those bad effects. So if Bacognize makes you feel like you’d rather be dead, Synapsa is worth a try. – MetTech78:

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