Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), is a perennial herb that has been recently reclassified into the Plantaginaceae family from the Schropulariaceae or Figwort family. Bacopa is a small, creeping succulent herb, loving water and growing in ponds, tidal lands, and wetlands in tropical and semitropical areas. The flowers have 5 petals, are white or whitish-blue, and grow on short pedicels at the axils of the leaves. Each individual has a specific energetic constitution, and in Ayurveda the 3 categories of energetic constitutions are called doshas. Energetically, Bacopa is a cooling bitter that is thought to pacify all doshas (vata, pitta, & kapha).* The whole plant can be dried and used medicinally, or the aerial parts can be eaten fresh. Native to India & Sri Lanka, but now naturalized in the southern coasts of the U.S, & Australia, its growth habits can be a challenge for finding pure sources. Given its ability to thrive and absorb the moisture of its environment, Bacopa is notorious for also absorbing the pollutants of its environment, such as pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals. Bacopa shares the common name Brahmi with another herb significant in Ayurvedic medicine, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica). The term ‘brahmi’ originates from the Hindu god Brahma, which refers to the feminine aspect of Brahman. Brahman is the divine ‘essence of source from which all created things emanate, or with which they are identified and to which they return at the time of dissolution’ . Brahman is also referred to as the ‘cosmic consciousness’ , leading Bacopa to be associated with knowledge, learning, memory, and concentration*. Some use Bacopa to increase concentration and devotion to support a spiritual practice, and it is believed that ancient scholars utilized Bacopa as a nootropic to memorize extensive hymns and scriptures.
Traditionally, Bacopa was utilized in various conditions afflicting the mind and nervous system. In traditional Ayurvedic medicine, Bacopa is a rasayana, or a rejuvenative tonic, which promotes the revitalization of the body and tissues. It was used tonically to promote intellect and longevity*. Modern research on Bacopa shows that Bacopa monnieri extracts are able to improve various cognitive functions in healthy college students. Other studies suggest that Bacopa monnieri decreases the rate of forgetting newly acquired information in healthy adults, and may improve cognitive processes in healthy humans*. As more and more people turn to herbal medicine, Bacopa monnieri is experiencing increasing popularity as a nootropic aid. Study participants noted a sense of calm and wellbeing from Bacopa with short term use, however, studies showed that beneficial cognitive effects of Bacopa are typically seen after 6-12 weeks, with better results seen with long term use*.
Uses of Bacopa
This information in our Herbal Reference Guide is intended only as a general reference for further exploration, and is not a replacement for professional health advice. This content does not provide dosage information, format recommendations, toxicity levels, or possible interactions with prescription drugs. Accordingly, this information should be used only under the direct supervision of a qualified health practitioner such as a naturopathic physician.