Bacopa May Help You
Learn Faster

An interesting study with albino rats has shown that the herb Bacopa monniera could increase learning under stress.1 This could be quite handy for those of us alpha-type personalities who are often or always operating "under the gun." In the study, sleep-deprivation stress was found to produce significantly elevated serotonin levels. As other studies have also shown, discrimination learning was significantly reduced following sleep-deprivation stress.2 When the rats were given Bacopa before the sleep deprivation, however, the learning under stress was significantly improved. Bacopa was found to regulate the utilization of neurotransmitters in the brain following stress.3 Different levels of stress can alter serotonin turnover in the brain and the periphery, which can be demonstrated by measuring the metabolites produced.4

Speaking of the rat race, another study with Bacopa and albino rats found that it increased maze or spatial learning,5 a form of memory found useful for perceptuo-motor tracking and immediate recall of visually presented patterns.6 These characteristics are helpful when working with a graphical user interface such as that of the World Wide Web. When Bacopa was compared to other memory-enhancement herbs, it was found to be the most effective.

To test the effect of Bacopa on humans with mild, moderate, or severe mental deficiencies, 500 mg of the extract was given to 172 subjects, 18 years old or older, three times per day for one year, while a control group of 114 subjects received a placebo.7 At the end of this human study, there was improved concentration ability, memory span, and overall mental performance in the subjects with mild to moderate degrees of mental deficiency, compared to the placebo group. The severely deficient group showed no progress. No adverse side effects were reported.

Bacopa was found to improve the memory and overall learning ability in 16 schoolchildren (aged 10 to 19) who were selected because of poor educational performance.8 An equal number of children served as controls and received only placebo. After six months of treatment, a significant improvement in memory was observed in the treated group. None of the children showed any adverse effects.


  1. Agrawal A, Gupta U, Dixit SP, Dubey GP. Changes in brain biogenic amines under the influence of an Ayurvedic drug, Brahmi, and its effect on discrimination learning. Pharmacopsychoecologia 1993;6(1):15-9.
  2. Harrison Y, Horne JA. Sleep loss and temporal memory. Q J Exp Psychol A 2000 Feb;53(1):271-9.
  3. Singh HK, Dhawan BN. Neuropsychopharmacological effects of the Ayurvedic nootropic Bacopa monniera Linn. (Brahmi). Indian J Pharmacol 1997;29(5):S359-65.
  4. Malyszko J, Urano T, Takada Y, Takada A. Stress and/or tranylcypromine treatment affects serotonergic measures in blood and brain in rats. Neurosci Res 1994 Jun;19(4):365-71.
  5. Dey CD, Bose S, Mitra S. Effect of some centrally active phyto products on maze learning of albino rats. Indian J Physiol Allied Sci 1976;30(3):88-97.
  6. Duff SC, Logie RH. Storage and processing in visuo-spatial working memory. Scand J Psychol 1999 Dec;40(4):251-9.
  7. Agrawal A, Pandey MN, Dubey GP. Management of mental deficiency by an indigenous drug, Brahmi (Bacopa monniera). Pharmacopsychoecologia 1993;6(1):1-5.
  8. Dubey GP, Pathak SR, Gupta BS. Combined effect of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) and Shankhpushpi (Convolvulus pluricaulis) on cognitive functions. Pharmacopsychoecologia 1994;7(3):249-51.

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