Bacopa for stress, anxiety, and clarity

Posted by Andrew Neal on

What is Bacopa?

Bacopa monnieri (Bacopa leaf extract) is an herb known for its ability to reduce stress, anxiety, and improve clarity. Use of Bacopa dates back to 500 BC to treat memory loss, anxiety, memory, comprehension and recall (1,6). Bacopa has even been used as an adjuvant therapy for Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy (5,7). Although, Bacopa itself is not responsible for these benefits, but the isolated compounds found in Bacopa called bacosides.

Various molecules are found in Bacopa such as bacosides, mentioned before, as well as bacosterols, bacosine, and quercetin (8). The Bacosides found in Bacopa are of most interest because they are what have been shown to be beneficial for cognitive purposes (2). Bacopa has been shown to be effective at 300mg per day to reduce anxiety and related symptoms (3).

What Does Bacopa Do?

Bacopa works promoting the growth of neurons in the brain as well as regulating neurotransmitters that influence mood, energy, and cognition. To get the optimal benefits of taking bacopa, you must supplement for at least 12-weeks with at 300mg/day (9). Below are a list of Bacopa's benefits.

  • Promote the growth of neurons to more effectively send signals within the brain and throughout the body.
  • Increase the amount of serotonin in the brain which regulates mood and happiness.
  • Support dopamine levels in the brain, which may lower because of stress and cause depression and poor mood.
  • Slow the breakdown of acetylcholine, the body's primary neurotransmitter for sending signals, which improves cognition.
  • Prevent inflammation in the brain by acting as an antioxidant.

Bacopa for Stress

Bacopa is an adaptogen meaning it helps your body adapt to and reduce stress. Everyone has stress in their lives; it's inevitable. Some have different ways of dealing with stress, but supplementing with ingredients such as Bacopa, Ashwagandha, and Ginko Biloba can help. Stress is caused by relationships, work schedules, or if life isn't going your way. When you get stressed, it excites signaling molecules in the brain in places responsible for learning and memory. This can lead to an increase of free radicals in the brain that promote inflammation. However, when you take Bacopa, these free radicals are reduced and your stress is alleviated (4).

Think of stress as a graph. The X-axis (bottom) is stress and the Y-axis is the amount of dopamine you have in your brain. Short term stress such as cramming for a test or if work gets hectic can promote the release of dopamine, which can help you focus on the task at hand. When the stress is over, everything returns to normal. Conversely, when you have long-term stress, you could deplete the amount of dopamine in the brain leading to the inability to focus, poor mood, and lethargy.

Bacopa for Anxiety

Constant stress can lead to you feeling anxious. This is especially true if you are stressed about one particular thing and you haven't found a way to cope with the stress. When you have constant anxiety, your brain chemistry can change by reducing the amount of available serotonin. Similar to dopamine, if you have low serotonin it could cause you to have poor mood. Bacopa can increase serotonin in the brain that can decrease after you have been exposed to long-term stress or anxiety. If you want to maximize your results and reduce anxiety, it's recommended that you take 300mg of Bacopa for 12-weeks.

Bacopa for Clarity

When you combine the stress of life and anxiety, your brain becomes foggy. You won't be able to execute tasks as quickly or efficiently than if you had a clear head. As mentioned above, constant stress and anxiety reduces dopamine and serotonin, which can have a negative impact on your well-being. This is where Bacopa comes into play. Bacopa can help reduce the stress and anxiety in your life allowing you to process information and combine memories more quickly as well as learn faster and more effectively. So, Bacopa is a cognitive supplement that you won't receive immediate effects from, but after taking it for 12-weeks you'll notice that you don't have as much stress and aren't as anxious.

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Citations

  1. Badmaev, V. (1998). Bacopin (Bacopa monniera): a memory enhancer from ayurveda. Sabinsa Corporation, Piscataway.
  2. Bhattacharya, S. K., & Ghosal, S. (1998). Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera: an experimental study. Phytomedicine, 5(2), 77-82.
  3. 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.
  4. Chowdhuri, D. K., Parmar, D., Kakkar, P., Shukla, R., Seth, P. K., & Srimal, R. C. (2002). Antistress effects of bacosides of Bacopa monnieri: modulation of Hsp70 expression, superoxide dismutase and cytochrome P450 activity in rat brain. Phytotherapy Research: An International Journal Devoted to Pharmacological and Toxicological Evaluation of Natural Product Derivatives, 16(7), 639-645.
  5. Goswami, S., Saoji, A., Kumar, N., Thawani, V., Tiwari, M., & Thawani, M. (2011). Effect of Bacopa monnieri on cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Int J Collaborat Res Int Med Public Health, 3, 285-293.
  6. Kumar, N., Abichandani, L. G., Thawani, V., Gharpure, K. J., Naidu, M. U. R., & Venkat Ramana, G. (2016). Efficacy of Standardized Extract of Bacopa monnieri (Bacognize®) on Cognitive Functions of Medical Students: A Six-Week, Randomized Placebo-Controlled Trial. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2016.
  7. 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.
  8. Patel, K. (2018, June 14). Bacopa monnieri. Retrieved from https://examine.com/supplements/bacopa-monnieri/#ref9
  9. 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.

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