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Mechanisms, Efficacy, and Safety of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) for Cognitive and Brain Enhancement

  • Lumen Research Foundation,Chennai
Mechanisms, Efficacy, and Safety of Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi)
for Cognitive and Brain Enhancement
Con Stough,1Hemant Singh,2,3 and Andrea Zangara1,4
1Centre for Human Psychopharmacology, Swinburne University, P.O. Box 218, Hawthorn, VIC 3122, Australia
2Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 226031, India
4NaturalPowerMeds Consulting SL, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
Correspondence should be addressed to Con Stough;
Received  July ; Accepted  July 
Copyright ©  Con Stough et al. is is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License,
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
e plant Bacopa monnieri (water hyssop, Brahmi, thyme-
leaved Gratiola, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort) is a
perennial, creeping herb native to the wet lands of India,
particularly northeast and southern regions. Bacopa is an
important plant of Ayurveda, where it is named as Brahmi,
aer Lord Brahma, the mythological creator of the world and
originator of the science of Ayurveda. Bacopa is frequently
mentioned in the religious, social, and medical treatises of
India since the time of Vedi c civilization. Its antiquity can be
tracedtothetimeofAthar Ved (the science of well-being)
writteninBCwhereBacopa nds a mention in the very
rst verse of the third chapter of Athar Samhita (compilation
on the factors promoting well-being).
More recently researchers have turned their attention to
better understanding the mechanisms and ecacy of various
extracts of Bacopa monnieri on human conditions. Although
extracts of Bacopa have been studied and used to treat various
disorders for centuries (pain, epilepsy, and inammation,
amongst many) perhaps the chief therapeutic claim concern-
ing its benets has been in improving memory. e Indian
government has invested signicant resources and conducted
hundreds of studies examining the mechanisms of action on
the brain and at a cellular level. Interestingly this research
has uncovered a myriad of possible mechanisms relating
to anti-inammatory, antioxidant, metal chelation, amyloid,
and cholinergic eects amongst many others. Although it is
not unusual for plant based medicines to have multiple eects
on cellular processes, Bacopa monnieri is perhaps one of the
most scientically studied in terms of mechanisms of action.
Interestingly these mechanisms seem to comprehensively
map on to the biological mechanisms that many researchers
have argued underpin cognitive and memory processes. In
 a special extract of Bacopa monnieri was launched by
the Indian Government’s Central Drug Research Institute,
this particular standardised extract had been subjected to the
most research and was the most promising extract for medica l
conditions. In  the three editors for this special issue
attended CDRI’s th research anniversary where a special
one-day symposium on research on CDRI  was held. It is
this extract of Bacopa monnieri that is the focus of most of
the papers in this special issue which reports studies relating
to the safety, mechanisms, and ecacy of specic extracts of
Bacopa monnieri.
Over the last ten years there have been growing scientic
studies on this interesting terrestrial herb. As can be seen in
Figure  the number of publications concerning Bacopa mon-
nieri is steadily growing reecting increasing scientic inter-
reect scientic endeavours relating to cellular mechanisms.
As such these studies are an excellent base to launch larger
clinical trials in humans. Although much is known about the
mechanisms of Bacopa extracts on the brain there are still
signicant gaps in our knowledge. For instance, long-term
chronic trials in older people are now required to understand
whether Bacopa extracts such as CDRI  can prevent age-
related cognitive decline or even more insidious diseases such
as Alzheimer’s dementia. We note that a number of studies
Hindawi Publishing Corporation
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2015, Article ID 717605, 2 pages
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Number of publications in SCOPUS
F 
arealsocurrentlyexaminingtheeectofBacopa extracts
on improving cognitive and behavioural function in younger
people. Clearly the next decade will focus on larger clinical
trials in humans and expand upon the excellent animal and
Con Stough
Hemant Singh
Andrea Zangara

Supplementary resources (10)

October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
October 2015
Con K K Stough · Hemant K. Singh · Andrea Zangara
... For example, a study has shown Ashwagandha to be effective in improving memory and cognitive functions in people with Mild Cognitive Impairment (Choudhary et al., 2017). Similarly, work has been done on proving the efficacy of Brahmi for enhancing cognition (Stough et al., 2015). Brahma Rasayana is one such effective Ayurvedic formulation which consists of 45 ingredients that help reduce lethargy, tiredness and enhances memory, and immunity (Dash et al., 2018). ...
... It is also known as Brahmi and is found in warm wetlands [165]. They are indigenous to India and Australia [166]. It is also grown in Sri Lanka, Nepal, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan, Florida, and other southern states of the USA [167]. ...
Full-text available
Background: Huntington’s disease is an inherited autosomal dominant trait neuro-degenerative disorder caused by changes (mutations) of a gene called huntingtin (htt) that is located on the short arm (p) of chromosome 4, CAG expansion mutation. It is characterized by unusual movements, cognitive and psychiatric disorders. Objective: This review was undertaken to apprehend biological pathways of Huntington’s disease (HD) pathogenesis and its management by nature-derived products. Natural products can be lucrative for the management of HD as it shows protection against HD in pre-clinical trials. Advanced research is still required to assess the therapeutic effectiveness of the known organic products and their isolated compounds in HD experimental models. Summary: Degeneration of neurons in Huntington’s disease is distinguished by progressive loss of motor coordination and muscle function. This is due to the expansion of CAG trinucleotide in the first exon of the htt gene responsible for neuronal death and neuronal network degeneration in the brain. It is believed that the factors such as molecular genetics, oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, mitochondrial dysfunction, neuroglia dysfunction, protein aggregation, and altered UPS leads to HD. The defensive effect of the natural product provides therapeutic efficacy against HD. Recent reports on natural drugs have enlightened the protective role against HD via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiapoptotic, and neurofunctional regulation.
... Both extracts have not produced any gross behavioural changes at these dose levels. Based on some clinical studies and other published data, side effects of Bacopa monnieri supplements may include upset stomach, frequent bowel movements diarrhea nausea, slower heart rate (bradycardia), increased fluid secretions in the lungs, stomach and intestines, GI tract blockage, interference associated with increased thyroid hormones in body, fatigue, drowsiness, dry mouth and chances of heavy metal poisoning (Stough and Singh, 2015). There is still no experimental evidence reported for genotoxicity or teratogenesis by use of BME (Chaudhari and Tiwari, 2017). ...
... Specifically relating to the pathophysiological processes associated with sleep disturbances, Bacopa monnieri has been shown to influence HPA-axis activity (S. Kumar & Mondal, 2016;Zu et al., 2017), neurotransmitter concentrations of dopamine and serotonin (Rauf et al., 2012;Sheikh et al., 2007), and antioxidant and inflammatory activity (Nemetchek, Stierle, Stierle, & Lurie, 2017;Stough, Singh, & Zangara, 2015). In experimental studies, bacoside A inhibited inflammatory cytokine production (Madhu, T, & S, 2019), reduced free radical damage in the liver and brain (Sekhar, Viswanathan, & Baby, 2019), inhibited inflammatory cytokine production in the brain (Nemetchek et al., 2017), and inhibited beta-amyloid cytotoxicity (Malishev et al., 2017). ...
Full-text available
In this 28-day, randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 100 adults with self-reported poor sleep received either a placebo or a standardised Bacopa monnieri extract (150 mg twice daily). Outcome measures included the Bergen Insomnia Scale (primary outcome measure), Functional Outcomes of Sleep Questionnaire, Pittsburgh Sleep Diary, Short Form-36 Health Survey, and the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale. Changes in salivary concentrations of cortisol, dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate, immunoglobulin A (sIgA), α-amylase (sAA), C-reactive protein, melatonin, and the fatigue biomarker index were also assessed. Based on the Bergen Insomnia Scale, Bacopa monnieri did not improve sleep patterns more than the placebo; however, it was associated with greater improvements in emotional wellbeing, general health, and pain-related symptoms. Bacopa monnieri was also associated with greater reductions in sIgA and sAA compared to the placebo. Future clinical trials using varying doses, treatment periods, and objective outcome measures will be important to validate these findings.
... It is traditionally used for many ailments, but is best known as a potent nervine tonic and memory enhancer (Aguiar and Borowski, 2013). It is implicated in the treatment of anxiety, epilepsy, dementia, cognitive dysfunction, amnesia and other neurodegenerative disorders (Russo and Borrelli 2005;Gohil and Patel, 2010;Stough et al., 2015;Chaudhari et al., 2017). It has been used extensively in Ayurveda as a nootropic drug to improve memory, learning and concentration. ...
... Its principle mechanisms of action are related to anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, metal chelation, amyloid and cholinergic effects. (6,7). L-theanine is a major amino acid found in green tea, able to enhance cognitive functions and to have a positive effect on relaxing, emotional status and on quality sleep (7). ...
Background: The prevalence of senile dementia is increasing worldwide, especially in the developed countries. Nevertheless, drug therapy isn't often enough to treat this condition. Researchers are evaluating the possible impact of a preventive approach, based on an improvement of lifestyle and the intake of micronutrients. Moreover, there is an increasing interest for combined nutraceuticals that can act as memory and learning enhancers, with a significant and beneficial potential on the cognitive disorders. Objective: To evaluate the effects of a rational assemblage of nutraceuticals on cognitive functions in a sample of 30 elderly subjects. Design: Double bind, cross-over designed trial versus placebo Setting: outpatient clinical practice. Participants: 30 elderly subjects with basal Mini-Mental State Examination score between 20 and 27 and self-perceived cognitive decline. Intervention: Treatment with a combination of nutraceuticals based on Bacopa monnieri, L-theanine, Crocus sativus, copper, folate and vitamins of B and D group. After2 months of treatment or placebo. Measurements: Patients were evaluated with Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE), Perceived Stress Questionnaire (PSQ) and Index and Self-Rating Depression Scale (SRDS). Results: MMSE and PSQ Index significantly improved in the active treatment arm, both versus baseline and versus the parallel arm. Both groups experienced a significant improving in the SRDS scores. Conclusions: We obtained a good and significant improvement of the cognitive functions tested with the MMSE, PSQ-Index and SRDS score, after 2 months of combined therapy of nutraceuticals. Further confirmation will be needed to verify these observations on the middle and long term in a larger number of subjects.
Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst is a well-known nootropic herb, which is commonly used in the traditional system of Ayurveda for the treatment in improving memory and reducing anxiety. Traditionally, this herb is used for several ailments, but it is mainly known as a neuronal booster and cognitive enhancer. This chapter highlights structural characterization of the active chemical constituents by spectroscopic techniques, analytical methods, and their neuropharmacolgical effects. In addition, this chapter also provides details about bioactive compounds, i.e., triterpenoid glycosides present in B. monnieri, and shows chief therapeutic action in neuroprotection. The traditional claims of B. monnieri are authenticated by reporting numerous preclinical and clinical studies ensuring the specialized hydroalcoholic extract of B. monnieri and standardized phytochemical profile. Numerous evidence suggests that B. monnieri acts via resulting mechanisms—antioxidant neuroprotection (inhibition of reactive oxygen species and enzyme viz., poly [AAP-ribose], polymerase [PARP], and prolyl endopeptidase [PEP]), β-amyloid reduction, increased cerebral blood flow, acetylcholinesterase inhibition and/or choline acetyltransferase activation, and neurotransmitter modulation (acetylcholine, dopamine, 5-HT, serotonin). Thus, reviewing prolonged effects of a standardized extract of B. monnieri on neurological function in human subject for the purpose of standardized extract has been popularly commercialized in the names of bacognize, bacomind, synapsa, keenmind, and mediherb.
Herbs, Spices and Their Roles in Nutraceuticals and Functional Foods gives an overview of the many pharmacological activities associated with herbs and spices, including detailed coverage on their mechanisms and formulations for the food industry. Chapters focus on key ingredients such as Curcuma longa, Piper Nigrum and Trigonella foenum-graecum, with contributors across the globe providing the latest research and advances for each. This is an essential read for scientists who want to understand the fundamental mechanisms behind the bioactive compounds within herbs and spices. The numerous phytochemicals present in plant extracts have multiple pharmacological activities so there is extensive research into new bioactive compounds. The pharmacological activities of herbs and spices have been thoroughly investigated, and it is crucial that the latest research is organized into a comprehensive resource.
In recent decades, preclinical research into natural products has focused on the identification of pharmacologically active secondary metabolites produced by plants, often traditionally used as medicinal remedies. Beyond vitamins and minerals, plants contain other secondary metabolites recently defined as “nutraceuticals,” which are at the center of important scientific studies. The term nutraceutical is a portmanteau word, a combination of “nutrition” and “pharmaceutical,” and refers to “naturally derived bioactive compounds that are found in foods, dietary supplements, and herbal products and have health-promoting, disease-preventing, and/or medicinal properties.” Several nutraceuticals exhibit antiaging features by acting on the inflammatory status and on the prevention of oxidative reaction. This results in a significant reduction of all risk factors for age-related diseases, enhancing the attainment of healthy aging. In this context, the chapter will summarize the available clinical evidence supporting the use of selected botanicals and phytochemicals with confirmed activity on the human central nervous system and demonstrated effects in modulating cognitive decline as an example of age-related disease. In particular, the chapter will focus on data supporting the potential usefulness of Ginkgo biloba, Vitis vinifera, Camellia sinensis, Theobroma cacao, Bacopa monnieri, Crocus sativus, and Curcuma longa.
Dementia is a chronic condition characterized by the decreased cognitive capacity, which is more severe than in case of normal aging. Cognitive impairment is a major social and economic problem of modern society, which affects about 47 million people worldwide. The first stage of dementia (mild cognitive impairment) is characterized by the decline of memory, executive function, attention, visuospatial skills and speech. Pathogenic links of cognitive impairment are represented by neuroinflammation, excessive amyloid-β protein deposition, oxidative stress, hyperphosphorylation etc. In the recent years, the interest in natural plant-derived compounds for the treatment of cognitive decline has increased. In this chapter, we summarize the available evidence supporting the benevolent action of some botanicals and phytochemicals on cognitive function. The most widely studied plants include Ginkgo biloba, Panax ginseng and Camellia sinensis (green tea), but there also some other promising ones like guarana, grape, soy etc. These nutraceuticals mostly influence memory, learning and attention. At the moment it is quite difficult to make a definite conclusion on the effects of nutraceuticals on cognitive decline, because human trials show significant discrepancies. This underpins the need of future trials and scientific analysis.
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