Bacopa monnieri (Bacopa or Brahmi) is a plant that has been used for centuries as a part of Ayurvedic medicine to improve memory. The steroidal saponin active ingredients are called Bacosides. Bacopa 300 mg/day has been shown to improve various intellectual functions. Some studies have shown that longer durations of use up to 12 weeks of Bacopa are necessary to receive benefits.
This study evaluated Bacopa in the ‘elderly’ with a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. The clients received either 300 mg. of Bacopa per day or a placebo for each 12 week trial period. The people studied were all over 55 years of age and did not have dementia. Many memory tests were administered throughout the duration of the study.
Of the 136 volunteers, 81 completed the trial. “Bacopa significantly improved verbal learning, memory acquisition, and delayed recall” according to the authors.
People on Bacopa had more gastrointestinal side effects, such as abdominal cramps, nausea and increased stool frequency. The side effects are cholinergic, due to increased acetylcholine. Bacopa should be used with caution with acetylcholinesterase inhibitors. The beneficial effects of Bacopa on the brain are believed to be cholinergic. The saponins could have been the cause of gastrointestinal irritation.
Audioverbal and visual memory were tested. The people on Bacopa had a significant improvement in learning rate and in memory when compared to the placebo controls.
CONCLUSION: Bacopa improved memory acquisition and retention in older Australians, with some gastrointestinal side effects.
NOTE: Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are chemicals that allow the buildup of acetylcholine neurotransmitter. They include chemicals used to treat myasthenia gravis and Alzheimer’s dementia.
Bacopa is beneficial in seizure-related behavioral deficits.
To read the author’s abstract of the article click on the link to the author’s title of the article above.