Brahmi, Indian pennywort, or Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), is a perennial herb that grows in India, Africa, parts of Europe, and in America, and tends to flourish in wet areas, even in small gardens and swamp areas. It is known to have small green leaves with small white flowers. All parts of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, and roots, are harvested to produce oil extracts, capsules, and tablets. Used commonly within the Ayurvedic Medicine community, this herb also has been gaining focus in the West with great success.
Historically, Bacopa use dates back to the 6th century in India. Bacopa has been commonly used for its adaptogenic benefits, stress support, and for its brain function support. In India, many add it to soups, curries, salads, and ghee as a nutritional addition to the diet. Throughout India, Bacopa is praised for its brain Nootropic benefits, and is recommended for diminished neural focus and cognitive concerns, and for increasing information processing.
Several animal and in vitro studies have demonstrated potential medicinal properties of the herb, and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials have substantiated its nootropic effects in humans (1). Evidence also suggests potential attenuation of dementia, Parkinson’s, and epilepsy (1).
The Nootropics category is seeing great success and popularity, as people seek out “smart pills” and brain boosters. As a Nootropic, Bacopa is known to have many possible benefits including mental focus, motivation, clarity, and protecting the brain from oxidative stress.
Stress has long been a chronic issue, but over the last few years we have seen escalations that are off the charts. Avoiding stress is almost impossible, so focusing on how to deal with added levels of stress has become a major focus. High-pressure situations are becoming more common, leading to psychological health problems like anxiety. Anxiety can contribute to chronic health issues affecting many systems of the body, and can affect people across all age levels. Bacopa has been used successfully to reduce cortisol, and support the symptoms of anxiety, sleep disorders, and a generalized decline in focus.
Bacopa has little to no side effects, and is commonly used as a dietary supplement in tablet or powdered form. But while it appears to exhibit low toxicity in humans, it’s important to note that long-term studies of toxicity in humans have yet to be conducted (1). There isn’t enough reliable information to know if Bacopa is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding, so it should be avoided unless one gets their medical practitioner’s approval. There are also some medications that may not mix with Bacopa, so it’s important to speak with a healthcare practitioner.
(1) Neuropharmacological Review of Nootropic Herb Bacopa Monnieri. Sebastian Aquiar and Thomas Borowski- 2013 August https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/