It all started years ago! Our first Bacopa studies

When I became the Director of Research at the National University of Natural Medicine (then still the National College of Natural Medicine), one of the first clinical trials that I was involved with was for an herb called Bacopa monnieri. Bacopa had been used in Ayurvedic medicine for memory, but was not well studied. My colleague, Carlo Calabrese, ND, MPH, wanted to determine if it worked for mild cognitive impairment, otherwise known as slight dementia.  

The trial was successful[1]. Bacopa increased learning and memory. It also decreased depression.  

The data just adds up and up

Bacopa has shown up in my life multiple times since then. Almost every year, another clinical trial happens with Bacopa. The data keeps adding up – Bacopa is good for memory, whether people are young or old, trying concentrate on exams, or trying to remember where they put their car keys.  

So how does Bacopa help your brain?

We’re now starting to learn why Bacopa is so effective. Bacopa can help extend nerve endings[2].It also changes the balance of neurotransmitters, with effects on serotonin, dopamine, and acetylcholine[3]. Bacopa also reduces oxidative stress[4,5]. 

Can Bacopa help more than exam performance and finding your keys??

Now the historically used Bacopa is re-emerging as a potential drug for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s Disease, and Schizophrenia[6]. Since it works well in the brain, it makes sense that it may effect brain related disease. From a Parkinson’s perspective, research in 2014, showed that Bacopa reduced Lewy body formation in fruit flies[7]. True, a fruit fly is not a human. However, it’s the first step to showing that Bacopa may have a significant effect in Parkinson’s. 

What’s next for Bacopa?

Researchers are isolating active ingredients from Bacopa which can be turned into pharmaceuticals. While there’s promise, it will take years to hit the market. 

The beauty is, you can take the whole herb now. No need to wait. The brain-benefiting Bacopa can be part of your natural medicine cabinet. If you need help with focus, mental clarity, and memory, Bacopa should be on your radar. 


  1. Calabrese C, Gregory WL, Leo M, Kraemer D, Bone K, Oken B. Effects of a StandardizedBacopa monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2008;14(6):707-713. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0018. 
  2. Rajan KE, Preethi J, Singh HK. Molecular and Functional Characterization of Bacopa monniera: A Retrospective Review.Evidence-based Complement Altern Med. 2015;2015. doi:10.1155/2015/945217. 
  3. Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri.Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(4):313-326. doi:10.1089/rej.2013.1431. 
  4. Simpson T, Pase M, Stough C. Bacopa monnieri as an Antioxidant Therapy to Reduce Oxidative Stress in the Aging Brain.Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015;2015:615384. doi:10.1155/2015/615384. 
  5. Nemetchek MD, Stierle AA, Stierle DB, Lurie DI. The Ayurvedic plant Bacopa monnieri inhibits inflammatory pathways in the brain.J Ethnopharmacol. 2017;197:92-100. doi:10.1016/j.jep.2016.07.073. 
  6. Mathur D, Goyal K, Koul V, Anand A. The molecular links of re-emerging therapy: A review of evidence of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera).Front Pharmacol. 2016;7(MAR):1-15. doi:10.3389/fphar.2016.00044. 
  7. Siddique YH, Mujtaba SF, Faisal M, Jyoti S, Naz F. The effect of Bacopa monnieri leaf extract on dietary supplementation in transgenic Drosophila model of Parkinson’s disease.Eur J Integr Med. 2014;6(5):571-580. doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2014.05.007.