Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

Latin Name Bacopa Monnieri, Bacopa Monnieria, Herpestis monnieria
Sanskrit Name Brahmi, Sarasvati, Kapotavanka
English Name Thyme Leaved Gratiola
Common Name Manduka Parni, Neerbrahmi, Bamanevari, Jalnam, Brahmi, Birami, Nirabrahmi, Sambarenu, Sambrani
Ayurvedic Properties and Action:
Rasa Madhura, Tikta, Kasaya
Guna Laghu, Sara
Virya Sita
Vipaka Madhura
Karma Kaphahara, Medhya, Rasayana, Svarya, Vatahara, Visahara, Ayusya, Matiprada, Prajasthapana, Mohahara

Phytochemistry:

The herb contains the alkaloids brahmine, herpestine, and a mixture of three bases. It also contains the saponins, monnierin; hersaponin, bacoside A and bacoside B. Other constituents present in the plant are D-mannitol, betulic acid, ß- sitosterol, stigmasterol and its esters, heptacosane, octacosane, nonacosane, triacontane, hentriacontane, dotriacontane, nicotine, 3-formyl-4-hydroxy-2H-pyran, luteolin and its 7-glucoside. The presence of a-alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid and serine is also reported.
Pharmacological Actions:

It has astringent, tranquilizer, antioxidant, smooth muscle relaxant, laxative, intellect promoting, carminative, digestive, antiinflammatory, anticonvulsant, depurative, and tonic actions, antianxiety, adaptogenic, brain tonic, sedative and antidepressant activity.
Medicinal Use:

Clinically it is used for memory enhancing, epilepsy, insomnia and as a mild sedative, and in treatment or prevention of neurological disorders.

It is useful in neuralgia, epilepsy, amentia, dyspepsia, etc.

It is adaptogenic, sedative, tranquilizing, potent nervine tonic, anti-anxiety agent (improves mental functions, used in insanity, epilepsy), in psychic disorders and as a brain tonic. (The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India; Indian Herbal Pharmacopoeia).
Clinical / experimental study:

Natural Tranquilisers
The saponin, hersaponin, is reported to possess cardiotonic, sedative and spasmodic properties. It has tranquilizing effect, also improve the performance of rats in various learning situations.

Brahmi exhibited a sedative effect and significantly prolonged the hypnotic action of pentobarbitone. It produced a variable blockade of conditioned avoidance response. The presence of a significant antinociceptive effect, coupled with the ability of the test substance to offer protection against electroshock seizures and chemoconvulsions plus the ability to antagonize the haloperidol-induced catalepsy, suggests an involvement of the GABAergic system in the mediation of the central nervous system effects of Brahmi.

Triterpene saponins (bacopasides VI-VIII) of Brahmi have antidepressant activity.

B. Monnieri has been shown to cause prolonged elevated level of cerebral glutamic acid and a transient increase in GABA level. Endogenous increase in brain glutamine may be helpful in the process of learning. Hersaponin is reported to possess cardiotonic and sedative properties. It was found, as in case of reserpene, to deplete nor-adrenaline and 5-HT content of the rat brain.

Researchers using a rat model of clinical anxiety demonstrated bacopa’s considerable anti-anxiety activity that was comparable to lorazepam, a common anti-anxiety prescription drug. However, Bacopa did not cause forgetfulness like lorazepam but instead had a memory-enhancing effect.

Mental As well as physical strength
Bacopa Monnieri possesses a potent adaptogenic activity against chronic and acute stress. On the basis of the study it is concluded that the standardized extract of B. monniera possesses a potent adaptogenic activity.

Usage of Bacopa Monnieri continuously for three months led to a significant overall improvement in the memory of the trial group as a whole, thereby establishing that it has a definite role as a memory booster drug. Therefore, it can be recommended to the patients suffering from memory related problems. Maximum improvement in memory sub-tests was observed in ‘Verbal retention for dissimilar pairs’ followed by ‘Immediate recall’ and ‘Attention and concentration’. Marked improvement was also observed in ‘Visual retention and recognition’. It has no adverse effect on the individual and hence its use is safe in all the people irrespective of their age.

Memory Enhancer
Bacopa monniera is recognized as a powerful brain enhancer. It is considered to be the greatest herb in Ayurveda for treating age-related mental decline, as well as for improving cognitive processes, including comprehension, memory and recall. It also enhances the crucial coordination of these three aspects of mental functioning, and helps increase one’s ability to solve problems.

In a double-blind, randomized trial conducted at the Department of Pediatrics, BRD Medical College, Gorakhpur, India, 19 ADHD children, aged 8-10 years old, were given 50 mg. of Bacopa twice daily. 17 ADHD children received a placebo. After 12 weeks of treatment, the children took a battery of specialized tests. The data revealed a significant improvement in the areas of sentence repetition, logical memory, and pair-associative learning (matching things that go together; e.g., “test” and “grade”) in all 19 children who took Bacopa. Evaluation did not occur until four weeks after stopping Bacopa usage, indicating that it had a lasting effect. According to Dr. O. P. Asthana, head of the pediatric department, there were no side effects and the herb was very well tolerated.

107 healthy participants were recruited for this double-blind placebo-controlled independent group design investigation. 62 participants completed the study with 80% treatment compliance. Neuropsychological testing using the Cognitive Drug Research cognitive assessment system was conducted at baseline and after 90 days of treatment with a special extract of Bacopa monniera (2×150 mg) or placebo. The Bacopa monniera product significantly improved performance on the ‘Working Memory’ factor, more specifically spatial working memory accuracy. The number of false-positive recorded in the Rapid visual information processing task was also reduced for the Bacopa monniera group following the treatment period. The current study provides support for the two other published studies reporting cognitive enhancing effects in healthy humans after a 90 day administration of the Bacopa monniera extract. Further studies are required to ascertain the effective dosage range, the time required to attain therapeutic levels and the effects over a longer term of administration.

Bacopa monniera is recognized as a powerful brain enhancer. It is considered to be the greatest herb in Ayurveda for treating age-related mental decline, as well as for improving cognitive processes, including comprehension, memory and recall. It also enhances the crucial coordination of these three aspects of mental functioning, and helps increase one’s ability to solve problems. These multiple effects ultimately lead to improved nerve impulse transmission, leading to faster learning and better memory retention.

The study was conducted on 18 individuals in the age group of 15-65 years with an objective to advocate and standardize an effective Ayurvedic formulation as memory booster and to evaluate an Ayurvedic herbal formulation for its efficacy in selected cases of Smriti Daurbalya with special reference to disorder of memory. The volunteers were evaluated on the basis of an objective criteria “PGI memory scale” which includes different tests to evaluate different types of memory. They were administered with dry hydro- alcoholic extract of Bacopa monnieri in the dose of 150 mg twice daily in the form of capsule for 3 months. The present study revealed an overall significant improvement in the memory of the trial group as a whole. It was found that maximum improvement in memory among different memory subtests was in “Verbal retention for dissimilar pairs”, followed by “Immediate recall” and “Attention and concentration”. Marked improvement was also observed in “Visual retention and recognition”. The response to the treatment was found to be more pronounced in volunteers who had their memory score below 80 before the start of the trial as they offered maximum scope of improvement. Thus the drug Bacopa monnieri has a definite role as a memory booster drug. Therefore, it can be confidently recommended to the patients suffering from memory related problems.

Senile dementia In a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled clinical trail on 54 participants (65 years or older) with Bacopa Monnieri (300mg/day) gives significant cognitive enhancing results. Controlling for baseline cognitive deficit using the Blessed Orientation-Memory-Concentration test, Bacopa participants had enhanced Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT) delayed word recall memory scores relative to placebo. Stroop results were similarly significant, with the Bacopa group improving and the placebo unchanged. Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale (CESD)-10 depression scores, combined state plus trait anxiety scores and heart rate decreased over time for the Bacopa group but increased for the placebo group. The dose was well tolerated. This study provides further evidencing cognitive performance in the aging.

Bacopa Monnieri has been found to improve the power of concentration and useful in dementia. It has cognitive-enhancing properties and an antioxidant effect might be involved.

Bacopa Monnieri possesses significant anticholinesterase and antidementic properties, which may be useful in the treatment of dementia.

Cognitive effects of Bacopa monniera extract were evaluated in healthy human subjects in a double blind placebo controlled, independent group trial design. The randomly allocated subjects received either placebo or Brahmi. Bacopa monniera significantly improved speed of visual information processing, learning rate and memory consolidation and anxiety compared to placebo, with maximal effects evident after 12 weeks. These findings suggest that B. monniera may improve higher order cognitive processes that are critically dependent on the input of information from our environment such as learning and memory.

Bacopa has this remarkable effect on the brain due to its active components. Two of the most important types are triterpenoid saponins and bacosides. The active compounds enhance nerve impulse transmission and aid in repair of damaged neurons. They accomplish this by enhancing enzymes called kinases that are responsible for rebuilding ATP (the cell’s powerhouse molecule). Kinases also stimulate neuronal synthesis, restoring lost synaptic activity22, 23. According to scientists at the CDRI, a number of compounds have been identified in Bacopa, including bacosides A and B, two chemicals that improve the transmission of impulses between nerve cells in the brain. These bacosides regenerate synapses and repair damaged neurons, making it easier to learn and remember new information. Bacopa also increases serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter that promotes relaxation.

In a double blind randomized controlled clinical trial in 76 subjects, B. monnieri showed significant effect on the retention of new information. Follow – up tests showed that the rate of learning was unaffected, suggesting that B. monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting newly acquired information.

Antianxiety
For four weeks, 35 patients were treated for anxiety neurosis. After treatment they were assessed for clinical anxiety levels, maladjustment levels, mental fatigue rate, and immediate memory span. The patients who took Bacopa had a 20% reduction in anxiety levels. Their maladjustment and mental fatigue were significantly lower than before treatment, and their immediate memory-span scores were significantly increased. In other words, Bacopa improved memory and productivity by reducing anxiety and related problems.

Anti oxidant
Australian researchers conducted a double blind, placebo-controlled trial reported in the journal Pharmacology in 2001. They found significant improvement in verbal learning, memory consolidation, and speed of early information processing in subjects after just 12 weeks of treatment with Bacopa compared to the placebo group. These effects were not observed at the beginning of the trial or after the first five weeks. These delayed results can be attributed either to bacopa’s antioxidant properties or to its effect on the neurotransmitter system.

Like Ashwagandha, Bacopa also acts as an antioxidant. But in Bacopa’s case, it does this by protecting and assisting the enzymes involved in scavenging reactive oxygen compounds in the brain. In addition, test tube studies have shown Bacopa exerts a protective effect against DNA damage. Bacosides of Brahmi has potential to modulate the activities of Hsp70, P450 and superoxide dismutase thereby possibly allowing the brain to be prepared to act under adverse conditions such as stress (antistress activity).

The antioxidant capacity of BM may explain, at least in part, the reported antistress, immunomodulatory, cognition-facilitating, antiinflammatory and antiaging effects produced by it in experimental and in clinical situations.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri)

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