Bacopa monniera (bacopa) is an Ayurvedic herb from India. Studies have shown it to have antioxidant, adaptogenic, and memory enhancing effects. The bacopa plant contains chemicals called saponins which are designated bacosides A and B.
This study was done to test bacopa’s antioxidant effects. The herb was tested to see if it could prevent or treat the oxidation and damage to the nervous system resulting from aluminum exposure. Bacopa was compared to the antioxidants effects of a drug called l-deprenyl. Bacosides A and B are believed to be the active ingredients in bacopa. Evaluation was done by specific blood tests to evaluate for the effects of oxidation and by microscopic evaluation of anatomical damage by aluminum in the hippocampus of the brain. The hippocampus and the neocortex of the brain are especially sensitive to damage from aluminum toxicity.
The study design included giving rats aluminum chloride (AlCl3) on a daily basis along with Bacopa extract of 40 mg./kg./day. The extract used had 55-60% bacosides. Comparison animals were given AlCl3 and l-deprenyl. Blood levels of specific chemicals were tested to estimate the level of oxidation in the animals. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) enzyme activity was measured in the blood. Aluminum usually lowers SOD levels.
The results of this study show that animals which were treated with Bacopa while AlCl3 was given had lower levels of oxidation and higher levels of SOD enzyme in the hippocampus of the brain than in the animals which received aluminum alone. Aluminum alone caused structural damage to brain cells and reduced SOD brain activity. Bacopa treatment reduced the damage and increased the SOD activity.
CONCLUSION: Bacopa compared well with l-deprenyl as an antioxidant against the damage of aluminum with both biochemical and microscopic testing. L-deprenyl is an antioxidant which is known to extend life expectancy. This testing showed that l-deprenyl and Bacopa have similar effects so that Bacopa should be considered to have antiaging potential.
Note: L-deprenyl (selegilene) (Eldepryl). It is a “selective monoamine oxidase type B inhibitor.” Selegilene has previously been shown to improve daily functioning in Alzheimer’s disease and made it easier for the patients to be cared for. Vitamin E works as well as Selegilene.