Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is an Ayurvedic herb from India which has been used for centuries for neurologic and psychiatric problems. Previous studies have shown that bacopa (300 mg. per day) increases brain function in the elderly in specific ways. The elderly often have trouble with normal thought processes, especially slowness of “speed of processing, memory, spatial ability, and reasoning”.
This study is of the effects of bacopa on human attention, cognition, memory, and other functions of the brain in 60 elderly people. They received doses of 300 mg. bacopa, 600 mg. bacopa, or a daily placebo, for 12 weeks. The subjects were then tested for brain functions every 4 weeks. Memory was tested for speed and accuracy. Brain waves were recorded as ‘evoked responses’ to help measure brain activity.
Brain function was improved on bacopa treatment in regard to “attention, cognitive processing, and working memory”. Working memory was improved in 4 weeks on bacopa, and the changes lasted beyond the 12 weeks of the study. On the 300 mg. dose, the subjects had improved attention and quality of learning at 4 weeks. Those on the 600 mg. dose showed increased speed of learning at 4 weeks also.
After 4 weeks of bacopa treatment, the herb was shown to suppress AChE (acetylcolinesterase) activity. This occurred at both the 300 and 600 mg. doses. The reduced AChE activity allows increased levels of acetylcholine neurotransmitter to improve attention and memory in the elderly. No change in MAO activity was seen in this study.
Both acetylcholine and monoamine neurotransmitters are important in attention and cognitive functions. Neurotransmitter activity was tested every four weeks of the study by determining the AChE and the monoamine oxidase (MAO) enzyme activities in the blood. (AChE breaks down the cholinergic neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, and MAO breaks down the catecholamine neurotransmitters, dopamine, epinephrine and norepinephrine.)
CONCLUSION: Bacopa herb was shown to improve cognitive functions in a group of elderly people. The improvement occurred at 4 weeks and was most likely due to AChE enzyme inhibition by bacopa with increased AChE levels. Bacopa may be useful in mild cognitive impairment, early Alzheimer’s disease, and attention deficit disorder.
To read the author’s abstract of the article, click on the title of the article. Then, to read the full article, click on the full text icon.
Summary #935. nutrientmedicine