There is an extract of a little-known herb known as Bacopa that can dramatically increase your brain function and memory — and may even help prevent dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Bacopa is a creeping perennial herb that thrives in wetlands and on muddy shores. Its therapeutic use has its origins in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, where it has been used for its adaptogenic, tranquilizing, and antioxidant properties.
The herb can be found in Nepal, China, India, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Vietnam, and some regions in the U.S. such as Hawaii, Florida, and other southern states. Bacopa (also called Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi) thrives easily around ponds or bog gardens.
Bacopa has been used in India for thousands of years for both traditional and medicinal purposes. Notably, Indians used Bacopa in religious consecration ceremonies for infants, because the herb was believed to open a gateway to intelligence for the child.
Researchers may first have been intrigued by Bacopa monnieri because of the effect they believed it may have on ancient shamans, who reportedly used the herb to help them memorize epic poems.
Researchers theorized that perhaps the Bacopa plant enhanced the shamans’ brain function and improved their memory, concentration, and recall.
It’s no wonder researchers suspected a link, since some of these epic poems — when they were finally recorded in writing — exceeded 900 pages, and the shamans could recite them word for word!
Improvement in Ability to Retain New Information — and Increase in Visual Processing Speed
Today, modern science is confirming traditional wisdom about Bacopa. In studies conducted in Australia and the U.S., Bacopa improved study subjects’ ability to retain new information — and it also helped them increase their visual processing speed in as little as 3 weeks.
Just a few examples of scientifically researched benefits of Bacopa include:
- A study conducted by the psychology department at the University of Wollongong in Australia also showed that Bacopa increases memory and recall ability.
- Results of a study presented in 1996 at the International Brain Research Conference showed that Bacopa reduced the time needed to learn a new task by almost half! Participants taking Bacopa mastered the exercise in as little as 6 days compared to 10 days for the control group.
- Another extensive 2001 study conducted in Victoria, Australia garnered similar results. The study was a rigorous, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled experiment. Over a maximum of 12 weeks, subjects took either Bacopa or a placebo. At the end of the trial, those taking Bacopa scored significantly better on all higher order cognitive processing tests.
Bacopa monnieri has been extensively tested and proven as a memory and concentration enhancer, but the benefits of Bacopa extend to other mental and emotional functions, as well.
In many areas of the world, Bacopa is also used to treat:
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Mental Deficiency
Bacopa May Also Prevent Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
In addition to its short-term cognitive benefits, Bacopa may also prevent long-term cognitive decline.
A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed that elderly participants who used 300 mg per day of Bacopa demonstrated improved mental functions in comparison to the placebo group.
Improvement was most profound in the areas of attention and verbal information processing — and researchers concluded that Bacopa could be effective in preventing cognitive decline.
Since research has shown a link between mild cognitive decline and eventual dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, preventing even mild cognitive decline may play an important role in warding off those memory-related diseases that are so prevalent among baby boomers and elderly people.
News of the many health benefits of Bacopa have recently seeped into mainstream news. In his TV show on May 30, 2011, Dr. Mehmet Oz (also known as “America’s Doctor”) recommended Bacopa for brain health.
Dr. Oz said, “Bacopa Monnieri will make you smarter, enhance your memory, and help you focus better.”
How to Use Bacopa
A 225 mg tablet of Bacopa taken up to 3 times daily is recommended by many health practitioners, although consultation with a qualified herbalist is advised to determine your ideal dosage.
To be most effective, Bacopa extract is usually taken in the recommended dosage daily for 12 weeks.
In low doses, Bacopa is mild and non-addictive. Although overdose is uncommon, Bacopa has been known to be toxic in very high doses, so caution is advised.
However, it is reported that any symptoms of toxicity will immediately subside once Bacopa supplementation is discontinued.
Bacopa is relatively inexpensive and can be found at health food stores and through a variety of online retailers.