Learn More About Bacopa
What is bacopa?
This perennial creeping marsh herb has been an integral part of Ayurveda, a system of Indian folk medicine so ancient that it even predates Chinese herbal lore. Although bacopa grows mostly in India, it can also be found in Southeast Asia and even in parts of the American south, especially Florida.
What is bacopa used for?
Ayurvedic medicine has found many uses for bacopa that modern science has recently begun to validate.
For instance, in Australia a three-month-long -blind, placebo-controlled strongly suggested that taking bacopa twice a day could improve the speed of information recall, verbal learning rate, and memory consolidation. This is significant. While herbs such as ginkgo biloba may help people, especially the elderly, remember events from the distant past, bacopa perhaps helps users to learn new information.
Indian scientists suspect that certain “memory compounds” in bacopa which they refer to as bacosides play a role in the repair of brain synapses, the junctions that nerve cells communicate with one another across. What this means in practical terms is that supplementation with bacopa may increase not only sharpen memory, but also increase our desire to seek out novelty, both of which are vital parts of learning. These effects may be especially notable in children.
Bacopa appears to have other possible uses as well. Evidence points to the ability of bacopa to boost levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which plays a vital role in controlling anxiety and improving mood. One study in 1960, for instance, showed that patients treated for anxiety neurosis could decrease their anxiety levels by 20 percent, with a consequent reduction in mental fatigue and even an improvement in short-term memory, all without the use of prescription drugs. A decrease in blood pressure was also noted.
The antioxidant properties of bacopa may explain some of its brain enhancing effects. Bacopa seems to inhibit experimentally induced lipid peroxidation, that is, free radical damage to the fatty parts of the central nervous system that contain cholesterol and triglycerides. (If you’ve ever opened an outdated bag of potato chips and smelled the odor of rancidity, then you have encountered lipid peroxidation!) Substances such as bacopa that slow down or prevent lipid perxoidation benefit our health, since this process can lead to atherosclerosis, otherwise known as hardening of the arteries.
Another neurotransmitter that bacopa appears to stimulate the production of is GABA, an inhibitory brain chemical that helps control convulsive behavior and aids in locomotive function. It can even prevent pain from oversensitive nerve endings, and perhaps serve as a sedative.
How is bacopa taken?
Bacopa can be ingested in the form of a tea, a liquid extract, or (most commonly) in capsule or tablet form. The most commonly researched amount is 150 milligrams of bacopa taken twice a day.
Is bacopa safe?
No studies have been conducted in the West with regard to the safety of bacapa during pregnancy, so avoid this herb if you are expecting a child. That said, this herb has a history of safe use going back thousands of years, and appears to pose no risk to users.
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