Natural Herb Bacopa: A Multipurpose Brain Protector With Amazing Health Benefits

By Deane Alban|Be Brain Fit

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Bacopa benefits the brain by balancing levels of neurotransmitters and stress hormones, thus improving cognitive and mental health. Get details on using it.

The many ways that bacopa benefits cognitive and mental health are impressive.

Bacopa is a foundational herbal remedy in the ancient healing traditions of both China and India.

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It has been highly prized as a brain tonic for reducing stress and anxiety, boosting mental energy and clarity, and protecting the brain from aging.

Bacopa is neither stimulating nor sedating but works by bringing the body and mind into a state of balance.

In this article, I’ll look at this traditional herb and why it deserves a place on any list of top brain supplements.

Traditional Uses for Bacopa

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a creeping herb with white flowers and small fleshy leaves that grows in bogs and wetlands on every inhabited continent.

It’s of major importance in India’s traditional Ayurvedic system of healing.

It also goes by the name brahmi after Brahmā, the Hindu god of creation.

Its use as a nerve and brain tonic for improving memory, learning, and concentration goes back at least 3,000 years.

According to legend, it was used by ancient scholars to memorize lengthy hymns and scriptures.

It has also been used to treat insomnia, fatigue, and disorders of the heart, lungs, and digestive system.

Bacopa Balances Neurotransmitters

Neurotransmitters are chemicals brain cells use to communicate with each other.

They regulate mood, appetite, addictions, energy, libido, motivation, and more.

They control your ability to focus, concentrate, learn, remember, and turn off your mind when it’s time to relax and go to sleep.

Bacopa is a master neurotransmitter regulator that dials their production up or down as needed.

In this way, bacopa brings the levels of three major neurotransmitters — serotonin, dopamine, and GABA — into balance.

Bacopa also increases the level of acetylcholine, the neurotransmitter of memory and learning.

The symptoms of low levels of acetylcholine are typical of what we joke about as “senior moments” — struggling to find the right word, constantly losing things, and not remembering what you’ve just read.

Without adequate acetylcholine your brain can’t turn short-term memories into long-term memories.

Since Alzheimer’s patients typically have extremely low acetycholine levels — usually around 10% of normal — it’s suspected that this brain chemical plays a significant role in Alzheimer’s.

The drugs currently used to treat Alzheimer’s work by blocking the breakdown of acetylcholine.

So far about a dozen bioactive compounds have been found in bacopa, the most important of which are bacopaside A and bacopaside B.

These compounds encourage the growth of new nerve endings called dendrites which brain cells need to communicate with each other.

In one study, bacopa was tested against two very different kinds of cognitive enhancers — the ancient herbal remedy ginseng and the popular smart drug Modafinil.

Bacopa exhibited superior cognitive benefits compared to both of them.

Bacopa can improve attention, memory, and the ability to learn in seniors, children, and everyone in between.

This versatility makes it a popular addition in brain-boosting nootropic formulas and in supplements that address age-related mental decline.

Bacopa Balances Stress Hormones

Bacopa belongs to a small group of herbs known as adaptogens.

Adaptogens promote overall health by bringing the body into a state of balance known as homeostasis.

Like all adaptogens, bacopa balances the level of the potentially damaging stress hormone cortisol and supports healthy adrenal function.

The adrenal glands are an important part of a properly functioning stress response system.

Adaptogens have the unique ability to calm a stressed mind and increase energy without being either sedating or stimulating.

In many ways, adaptogens act like a thermostat that keeps you in an emotional “comfort zone.”

It’s this ability to restore balance that makes bacopa equally beneficial for anxiety and depression.

Bacopa Is a Multipurpose Brain Protector

Bacopa can protect the brain from damage now and thus from degenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s that reveal themselves later in life.

It’s an herb that increases cerebral blood flow, delivering more oxygen, nutrients, and glucose — the brain’s primary energy source — to the brain.

Related Article: Better Mind, Better Life: Rewire Your Brain For Healthy New Habits 

Bacopa acts as an antioxidant to fight the effects of free radical damage to the brain.

Free radicals are unattached oxygen molecules that damage and age all cells, especially brain cells.

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