Anti-epileptic medications interfere with human mental processes, especially with temporal lobe seizures. There is current interest in herbs to treat seizures. This article is about the effect of an Ayurvedic herb called Bacopa monnieri and it’s concentrate, Bacoside-A, on memory and learning through the GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) receptors of the striatum of the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter.
The striatum is a large part of the basal ganglia area deep in the brain. The striatum controls whether focal seizure activity spreads to other parts of the brain and becomes generalized. The striatum plays a part in learning and cortical control.
Seizures were produced in rats by giving them pilocarpine. The Bacopa extract used for testing was 45% bacosides and was given at a dose of 300 mg. of fresh plant/kg. body weight. Some rats were treated with Bacoside-A. Some rats received standard carbamazepine therapy. Some of the rats were studied for seizure activity and descriptions were recorded. Some rats were used for chemical analysis of the striatum following the Bacopa treatment.
Bacopa, Bacoside-A and carbamazepine treated rats had a “significant” reduction in seizure frequency. The rats which were tested in a maze were observed and times spent in each arm of the maze were recorded. The epileptic rats which were given Bacopa had improved maze performance by spending less time in each arm.
GABA receptors are the primary inhibitors of the striatum to prevent seizure activity. The electrical input which promotes seizure activity is GABA-inhibitory. Impaired GABA activity causes seizures. Injection of a GABA promoting chemical in the striatum prevents seizures. Epileptic rats have reduced numbers of GABA receptors in the striatum, so, seizure activity spreads easily.
There is evidence that GABA is involved with the dopaminergic and cholinergic neuronal systems. Bacopa acts as a cholinergic treatment in the midbrain to release acetylcholine, which triggers GABA stimulation. GABA stimulation controls seizures.
CONCLUSION: Bacopa monnieri improves GABA activity. It has the promise of making improvements in seizure therapy and reducing the cognitive problems associated with seizure activity.
NOTE: Read about the enhancement of brain neurons by Bacopa monnieri.
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