When it comes to herbs that improve human brain function, Bacopa monnieri shines brightly with numerous studies showing its efficacy. It also has a long history of use on the continent of India where they call it Brahmi. Current research suggests that the herb works because it increases certain brain chemicals that are involved in learning, thinking and memory.
Bacopa monnieri is native to the wetlands of Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, southern India and North & South America. There are other varieties of bacopa besides the monnieri variety, but this article will only cover Bacopa monnieri and refer to it simply as bacopa.
A meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials on the cognitive effects of bacopa extract found that 437 people showed improved cognition. The study concluded that bacopa has the potential to improve cognition, particularly speed of attention.
In 2002, a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study was published showing the efficacy of bacopa. There were seventy-six adults between the ages of 40 and 65. The result showed that taking bacopa had a significant positive effect on the retention of new information.
Another randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study published in 2012 concluded that bacopa can improve attention, cognitive processing and working memory in senior citizens.
Promising research suggests that bacopa can be of help to those people with age related memory impairment including those with conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
In Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa has also been used to treat epilepsy, stress, allergies, irritable bowel syndrome and more. Looking through the medical literature one can find studies done on both humans and animals where bacopa has been used to treat a variety of conditions. These include: anxiety and depression, bronchitis and asthma, gastrointestinal disorders, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s disease, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder in children and more.  The research is ongoing.
Therapeutic doses of bacopa have not been associated with any dangerous side effects. However, it is not advised to take larger doses than recommended. The usual dose is 300mg of extract per day for a period of 12 weeks. It is known that Bacopa has been used safely in India by for at least the last several hundred years and perhaps even thousands of years.
Craig B Sommers ND, CN
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24252493  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12093601  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23320031  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20703343  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22700087  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24029249  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24682000  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21925152  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23326095