Don't let your brain trick you, Bacopa is not some strange bacon-esque salad topping that's good for mental enhancement. Although the word Bacopa might sound similar, it's way more useful and powerful than the legendary bacon.
Also known as Brahmi or Bacopa monniera, Bacopa is a small aquatic plant found in tropical and subtropical areas. It’s small, but very mighty when it comes to improving cognitive function and supporting general health. Whereas bacon’s only real claim to fame is amazing taste, Bacopa is immensely powerful in a variety of ways. It’s been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and has also received attention in the past 50 years in Western medicine. To-date, hundreds on studies have been done all around the world that support the powerful effects of Bacopa on the body. Studies have shown that Bacopa’s effects primarily fall into three camps: cognition, mood, and health.
Bacopa has been shown to be a powerful anti-depressant and memory enhancer; it’s even been suggested that Bacopa may be used as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related mental illnesses. On recent study with adults aged 40-65 found that taking Bacopa lead to significant increases in the retention of new information – but Bacopa’s not just for that 40+ crowd! Taking Bacopa can also be beneficial for younger people; taking it could give you an edge while studying for an exam, doing research, or any other tasks involving memory and learning.
In addition to memory, another study has shown that taking Bacopa can significantly increase the speed of visual information processing and other high-level cognitive processes that are essential for learning. Taking Bacopa will not only help you remember information, but it can also help you absorb it faster – so if you’re into maximizing your productivity, Bacopa might be worth trying!
The benefits of Bacopa don’t stop there: it’s also been shown to work as an anti-depressant and anti-anxiety compound, which might be related to the improved memory and learning associated with it. When you’re less anxious, you probably have an easier time learning and retaining information, which means that Bacopa provides two functions that can help improve your learning, since it both reduces anxiety and supports learning.
Everyone has heard of free radicals today, but few know that Bacopa helps reduce the number of these compounds floating around in your body. Free radicals are dangerous because they can split or warp DNA, the very foundation of every cell, which can lead to other problems. One of the most common free radicals is H2O2, or hydrogen peroxide. Bacopa has been shown to reduce the cytotoxic – or cell-damaging – effects of H2O2 on DNA, thus protecting your DNA from harm.
Bacopa has also been shown to be a mast cell stabilizer, which is important because mast cells are central to creating allergic reactions in the body. When mast cells are stabilized, allergic reactions diminish because mast cell stabilizers are used to reduce or prevent allergic reactions by blocking the release of histamine and related compounds that create allergic reactions. Thus, in addition to its cognitive effects, Bacopa can also be useful for dealing with allergic reactions.
While there’s no silver bullet when it comes to optimizing health, Bacopa certainly goes a long way in that direction with its trifecta of cognitive, mood, and physical health effects. It’s a nifty little plant with a lot of positive side effects and minimal downsides, in addition to being quite accessible, and could become a useful tool in your arsenal of cognitive support supplements!
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Bhattacharya, S., Dorababu, M., Goel, R., and K. Sairam. Antidepressant activity of standardized extract of Bacopa monniera in experimental models of depression in rats. Phytomedicine (2002) 9:3. 207-211.
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