Don’t lose your mind as your age?
A little-known Indian herb which has been used for thousands of years is now being hailed as an aid to memory recall, concentration and improved brain function. It may also be a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Bacopa monnieri has been used in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years to aid memory, combat cognitive decline and relieve anxiety. This creeping herb is now being studied as a treatment or preventative medicine against dementia and Alzheimer's disease.
Bacopa is found naturally in Nepal, China, India and even some parts of the USA including Hawaii and Florida. It thrives in wetland areas, around ponds and bogs. Also known as Brahmi or Baby's Tears, it plays a central role in religious ceremonies for infants in India and was believed to bestow intelligence on children. It appears that this may not be far from the truth!
Several studies have been made into the properties of this plant, which appears to have helped ancient shamans to accurately memorize and recite traditional poems of epic lengths, handing them down from one generation to the next before they were eventually written down. These ancient poems exceed 900 pages of text!
Studies on the Effects of Bacopa on Alzheimer's disease
A recent study by the Department of Biochemistry at Punjab University evaluated the potential neuroprotective possibilities of Bacopa monnieri against dementia and cognitive disorders associated with aging. The test was administered on rats that had induced cognitive impairment. The study showed that the rats given a Bacopa monnieri supplement showed reversed memory impairment and an improvement in oxidative damage. The results suggest there may be therapeutic potential in using Bacopa monnieri in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and associated cognitive decline.
A study by the Psychology Department of the University of Wollongong in Australia demonstrated that Bacopa could increase memory and recall ability. The Brain Research Conference reported in another study that Bacopa appeared to reduce the time needed to learn new tasks by almost half. It showed that those who took the herb as a supplement mastered mental exercises in six days compared to 10 days for the placebo group. Finally, a randomized double-blind study in Victoria, Australia showed that after taking the herb for 12 weeks, patients scored higher on all cognitive processing tests than those in the placebo group.
As well as showing short-term cognitive benefits, this Indian herb may also act as a preventative treatment against cognitive decline. A study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary medicine showed that those who took 300mg of Bacopa per day showed improved mental skills, better attention and faster processing of verbal information compared to the placebo group. The benefits of Bacopa were recently featured on TV by Dr Oz who said "Bacopa Monnieri will make you smarter, enhance your memory and help you focus better."
How to Take Bacopa
Bacopa supplements come in tablet form and one 225mg dose should be taken up to three times a day. Bacopa is at its most effective after it has been taken for 12 weeks. It is affordable, safe and non-addictive at recommended levels, but like many natural treatments care should be taken as it can be toxic at extremely high doses.