Bacopa Monniera was tested by the authors against acute stress (AS) and chronic stress (CS) in rats, compared to panax root powder (Panax quinquefolium). Panax ginseng is well known as an adaptogen and unstressed rats are known not to respond to bacopa or panax. The rats were stressed by being restrained inside a plastic tube for one period of 150 minutes for acute stress and daily for 7 days for chronic stress.
After the rats were stressed, they were killed and tested for a number of blood factors and for the weight of the adrenals, thymus glands, and spleens. Stress caused changes in the nervous, endocrine, and immune system. The hypophyseal-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is involved in the stress reaction.
Without treatment, acute and chronic stress resulted in an increase in the size of the adrenal glands, which results from activity in the HPA axis. Pretreatment with 40 and 80 mg./kg. bacopa resulted in a reduction of the size of the adrenal glands to acute stress. Only 80 mg./kg. pretreatment with Bacopa resulted in a reduction of the adrenal size to chronic stress.
Animals that were pretreated with Bacopa had a reduced tendency to form stomach ulcers with both acute and chronic stress.
Spleen weight decreased with AS and CS. Neither Bacopa nor Panax was able to reverse the decrease in spleen weight.
CS resulted in a decrease in the size of the thymus gland. Neither Bacopa nor Panax was able to restore the weight of the thymus that resulted from CS.
Both AS and CS resulted in an increase in blood sugar. Pretreatment with B. monniera did not change the blood glucose, but pretreatment with B. monniera resulted in increased blood sugar levels following CS. The authors claim this represents a “restorative function” of bacopa.
Bacopa is from India where it has a long history of use as a nerve tonic. The authors used an extract of B. monierra which contained 55-60% bacosides, estimated to be bacoside A.
CONCLUSION: The authors concluded that Bacopa Monniera is a potent adaptogen in preventing the physical effects of stress, both acute and chronic. Bacopa is able to attenuate the HPA axis, even in chronic stress when higher doses are used.
NOTE: Read about the memory-enhancing effects of Bacopa monniera.