Has been used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine for centuries. Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration and to provide relief to patients with anxiety or epileptic disorders.
Recent research has focused primarily on Bacopa’s cognitive-enhancing effects, specifically memory, learning, and concentration,and results support the traditional Ayurvedic claims.
Bacopa monnieri, is a small, creeping herb with numerous branches, small oblong leaves, and light purple flowers. The entire plant is used medicinally. Active Constituents and Pharmacokinetics
Compounds responsible for the pharmacological effects of Bacopa include alkaloids, saponins, and sterols. Many active constituents – the alkaloids Brahmine and herpestine, saponins d-mannitol and hersaponin, acid A, and monnierin – were isolated in India over 40 years ago. Other active constituents have since been identified, including betulic acid, stigmastarol, beta-sitosterol, as well as numerous bacosides and bacopasaponins. The constituents responsible for Bacopa’s cognitive effects are bacosides A and B.
Mechanisms of Action
Since Bacopa’s primary therapeutic use is to enhance cognitive function, most research has focused on the mechanism behind these properties. The triterpenoid saponins and their bacosides are responsible for Bacopa’s ability to enhance nerve impulse transmission. The bacosides aid in repair of damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, and restoration of synaptic activity, and ultimately nerve impulse transmission.
Loss of cholinergic neuronal activity in the hippocampus is the primary feature of Alzheimer’s disease. Bacosides appear to have antioxidant activity in the hippocampus, frontal cortex, and striatum. Bacopa extracts modulate the expression of certain enzymes involved in generation and scavenging of reactive oxygen species in the brain. Bacopa exerts a protective effect against DNA damage in astrocytes and human fibroblasts. Bacopa possesses anti-inflammatory activity via inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis and lysosomal membrane stabilization.