Bacopa Monnieri (BM) (also known as Brahmi/Indian Pennywort) is an Ayurvedic Medicine and a Neural Tonic used for its Antioxidant properties and as a Nootropic (to enhance memory and cognition). As a medicine used for a number of conditions, Bacopa Monnieri has stood the test of time in its ability to protect the neurons of our body.
The positive effects of this herb are due to a class of chemicals named Bacosides. Bacosides are being researched for their ability to reduce age-related degeneration ( i.e., Dementia) and to be a neuroprotective agent that can become a part of our daily-diet.
MECHANISM OF ACTION
While a single and definitive mechanism of action is unavailable for BM, it is believed that – Bacosides exercise its antioxidant potential to neutralize the Reactive Oxidant species present within the blood-brain barrier (and the body). Reactive Oxygen Species are the end-products of Inflammation and are harmful to the body when they are not properly negated. Bacosides due to chemical affinity to such oxidizing agents provide for anti-oxidation and maintenance of Homeostasis. This function is also done by micro nutrient like Zinc and Selenium and numerous other endogenous substances. Bacopa Monnieri takes over the processing of such metabolic products and save the ever-depleting stores of our antioxidants available for better use.
Further, it is also believed that Bacopa Monnieri increases the amount of Acetylcholine present in the Neural synapse – by increasing the activity of enzymes like Acetylcholine Transferase. Increased availability of ACh translates to better grasping abilities and Increased focus because ACh is important for the formation of Neural Connections and processing of Neural Information and a variety of other Nootropic effects.
Bacopa Monnieri is also known to increase the Cerebral Blood flow, another important factor for its positive effects.
Bacopa Monnieri was originally used and continues to be used in ayurveda for the following non-central nervous conditions:
- Mental illness
- Joint pain (rheumatism)
- Sexual problems
- Fluid retention
However, most of Bacopa Monnieri’s positive effects are due to its ability to prevent NEURONAL DEGENERATION in patients with Alzheimer’s and Epilepsy. BM prevents the Beta-Amyloid buildup and reduces lipoxygenase activity, both of which are necessary for reducing Neuro Inflammation and other toxicities.
Bacopa Monnieri is an ADAPTOGEN, i.e, it may reduce the motivation to work after supplementation. It interacts with the Dopaminergic and Serotonergic pathways to promote relaxation and ameliorate effects of stress. It becomes essential that BM is paired with a stimulant to ward off laziness and malaise. By increasing the growth of dendritic spikes and nerve endings, BM promotes memory formation and enhances creativity.
BM plays an important role in reducing Oxidative Damage due to Aluminium and Nickel. BM has also shown promise in reducing Hypothyroidism by increasing the T4( Thyroid Hormone in the periphery) to increase by as much as 42% in 14 days.
By promoting the increased Serotonin-related transporter proteins at the level of Hippocampus and Cerebral Cortex, BM is also known to reduce symptoms of Depression and promote Mood-stability.
Bacopa Monnieri is well-absorbed in a fatty environment because it is oil-soluble. The standard dose of 300mg of BM can be taken immediately after a meal to prevent side-effects such as Nausea and Belching. Ghee or Butter can increase BM’s absorption by Liposomes. Side-effects may include Diarrhoea in susceptible patients, otherwise, BM is a safe drug for daily consumption.
RECENT ADVANCES IN RESEARCH
mGluR8 is a transporter protein present on the neuronal nerve ending. It reuptakes the Glutamate for recycling purposes. In epilepsy, characterised by Increased Glutamate in the interneuronal space due to down-regulation (reduced synthesis) of this protein, the excitotoxic effects of Glutamate are pronounced.
Bacopa Monnieri becomes extremely useful in such a condition because it reverses the pathogenesis of Epilepsy. BM promotes UP REGULATION of mGluR8 in the Cerebellum to cure epilepsy and at other similar conditions.