Bacopa Monnieri

Authored by Manny Lam and Robert Chen • 
July 10, 2016
 • 3 min read

Take Home Points

  • Bacopa monnieri is an herbal compound which has been shown to enhance cognition, specifically memory and attention.1,2

  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to have neuroprotective and antioxidant properties.


  • Bacopa monnieri, also known as, coastal water-hyssop, herb-of-grace, Indian-pennywort, farfakh, adha-birni, brahmi, gundala, indravalli, safed chamni, litet tjockblad


  • The main “active” ingredients of bacopa monnieri are bacosides, typically 15-20% of the plant.

  • In bacopa products, a higher "Bacoside rating" rating denotes a more pure and potent bacopa ingredient.

bacopa_structure Figure 1. Chemical structure of bacopa monnieri.


  • wetlands of Southern and Eastern India

Effects on the Brain


  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to increase visual perception, as measured by the rapid visual information processing task (RVIP) in a meta-analysis of healthy volunteers consuming 300-450 mg daily for up to 12 weeks2,3


  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to enhance working memory, specifically spatial memory, in a study of 107 volunteers ages 18-60 taking 150 mg twice daily for 90 days.4

  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to improve memory acquisition and memory retention, shown by an increased ability to recall words learned over time, even with interference, as measured by the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT).

  • Bacopa monnieri (300-450 mg daily over 12 weeks) has been shown to improve memory free recall in 9 or 17 tests in a meta-analysis of six studies3There were significant differences in performance on the auditory verbal learning test (AVLT) (measuring free recall memory), delayed recall task (measuring associative memory), digit span test (measuring memory span) and visual retention tasks (measuring visual memory).

  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to improve learning rate and memory consolidation, as measured by the ALVT in a study of healthy volunteers taking 300 mg of bacopa daily over 12 weeks, as well as a study of 54 individuals 65 and over without dementia.2,5

  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to protect against interference during delayed memory recall according to a meta-analysis.6.


  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to improve anxiety in a study of healthy volunteers taking 300 mg daily over 12 weeks, as measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory.2

  • Bacopa monnieri has been shown to decrease depression scores, as measured by the CESD-10 depression test, and to decrease anxiety scores, as measured by the State Trait Anxiety Inventory, in a study of 54 individuals 65 and older without dementia.5

Mechanism of Action

The mechanism of memory enhancement has not been completely understood. However, bacopa monnieri may increase memory learning and retention:

* (1) interacts with the serotonin system (and indirectly the acetylcholinergic system)
* (2) enhances “synaptogenesis” (formation of connections between neurons).  
* (3) acts as an antioxidant by absorbing free radicals in cells;
* (4) mediates metal chelation7,8* (5) increases iron concentrates8* (6) inhibits lipid peroxidation7,8* (7) modulates the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. This leads to increased firing of neurons, increased cerebral blood flow, decreased acetylcholine breakdown by inhibiting acetylcholinesterase, and increased acetylcholine synthesis (by activating the enzyme choline acetyltransferase).8

How to take

  • Take a daily dosage of 300 mg with food, since it is fat-soluble.

Side Effects

  • Potentially more nausea, diarrhea, cramping, bloating.9


  • Approved as a dietary supplement component under provisions of the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994.
  1. Roodenrys, S., Booth, D., Bulzomi, S., Phipps, A., Micallef, C., & Smoker, J. (2002). Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory. Neuropsychopharmacology, 27(2), 279-281.

  2. Stough, C., Lloyd, J., Clarke, J., Downey, L., Hutchison, C., Rodgers, T., & Nathan, P. (2001). The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology, 156(4), 481-484.

  3. Pase, M. P., Kean, J., Sarris, J., Neale, C., Scholey, A. B., & Stough, C. (2012). The cognitive-enhancing effects of Bacopa monnieri: a systematic review of randomized, controlled human clinical trials. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 18(7), 647-652.

  4. Stough, C., Downey, L. A., Lloyd, J., Silber, B., Redman, S., Hutchison, C., ... & Nathan, P. J. (2008). Examining the nootropic effects of a special extract of Bacopa monniera on human cognitive functioning: 90 day double-blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Phytotherapy Research, 22(12), 1629-1634.

  5. Calabrese, C., Gregory, W. L., Leo, M., Kraemer, D., Bone, K., & Oken, B. (2008). Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 14(6), 707-713.

  6. Neale, C., Camfield, D., Reay, J., Stough, C., & Scholey, A. (2013). Cognitive effects of two nutraceuticals Ginseng and bacopa benchmarked against modafinil: a review and comparison of effect sizes. Br J Clin Pharmacol, 75(3), 728-37.

  7. Tripathi, Y. B., Chaurasia, S., Tripathi, E., Upadhyay, A., & Dubey, G. P. (1996). Bacopa monniera Linn. as an antioxidant: mechanism of action. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology, 34(6), 523-526.

  8. Limpeanchob, N., Jaipan, S., Rattanakaruna, S., Phrompittayarat, W., & Ingkaninan, K. (2008). Neuroprotective effect of Bacopa monnieri on beta-amyloid-induced cell death in primary cortical culture. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 120(1), 112-117.

  9. Morgan, A., & Stevens, J. (2010). Does Bacopa monnieri improve memory performance in older persons? Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 16(7), 753-759.

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