Parts used and where grown:
Bacopa is native to India, where it grows in marshy areas. In the West, bacopa is a familiar water plant used in aquariums. Most parts of the plant have been used traditionally, but modern preparations are extracts of the stem and leaves. Bacopa monnieri plant is an Ayurvedic herb used in India for memory enhancement. Ayurvedic medicine has touted the cognitive enhancing effects of Bacopa monniera for centuries. Bacopa herb commonly grows in marshy areas throughout India. Studies show that bacopa herb has strong antioxidant properties, protects mental function in those with epilepsy who take the drug phenytion, while a study on rats showed bacopa administration improves learning skills.
The leaves of bacopa contain saponins, including the bacosides, which are thought responsible for the therapeutic properties of the herb. In animal studies, both purified bacosides and extracts of bacopa standardized for bacosides have been found to enhance several aspects of mental function and learning ability. Additional brain effects of bacopa demonstrated in animal research include reduction of both anxiety and depression. Biochemically, these nervous-system effects have been attributed to an enhancement of the effects of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and, possibly, serotonin or GABA (gamma aminobutyric acid).
Bacopa extracts also appear to have significant antioxidant activity in the brain, and other effects that may help protect brain cells. Animal research has also reported that bacopa extracts can relax the muscles that control the blood vessels, the intestine, and the airways of the respiratory system, and can help both prevent and heal ulcers in the stomach. Traditional herbal references recommend 5 to 10 grams per day of the powdered herb.Human research has used 300 to 450 mg per day of an extract standardized to contain 55% bacosides.Bacopa appears to be well tolerated when taken in typical amounts, although one double-blind study reported significantly more symptoms of dry mouth, nausea, and muscle fatigue in participants taking bacopa.