All About Bacopa: Benefits, Side Effects, and History

Published on April 20, 2022

By Gaia Herbs

Gaia Herbs

The brain is the most complex organ in the human body and plays a crucial role in our daily lives. It controls everything from our thoughts, emotions, and behaviors to our movements and senses. Therefore, taking care of our brain health is essential for overall well-being.

Fortunately, natural ways to support brain health include incorporating a healthy diet, exercise, and mental stimulation. One such natural remedy that has gained attention for its potential benefits for brain health is Bacopa.

What is Bacopa?

In the wetlands of India and other Asian countries grows an extraordinary plant known by many names: Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri), brahmi, water hyssop, herb of grace, or Indian pennywort. This creeping succulent herb is a member of the plantain family and produces small, scentless white flowers.

Despite its unassuming appearance, Bacopa is a powerhouse of medicinal properties. It has been prized for thousands of years among practitioners of Ayurveda — the ancient Indian system of medicine — as a nootropic or an herb that supports mental performance.*

Bacopa comes in various forms, including herbal formulations in capsule form, powders to add to smoothies and homemade snacks, tinctures, and teas.

Traditional Use of Bacopa in Ayurveda

Ayurveda classifies people into one of three “doshas,” or body/personality types: vata (thin, light, and airy), pitta (muscular, dense, and fiery), and Kapha (ample, heavy, and earthy). Bacopa is a rare herb that “pacifies” all three doshas.*

Bacopa is classified as “Medhya Rasayana,” meaning it benefits the mind.* It’s also known as “brahmi,” which comes from the name Brahma, the creator of the universe within the Hindu belief system. Brahma is the feminine aspect of Brahman, also referred to as “cosmic consciousness,” which is why Bacopa is associated with learning, memory, concentration, and knowledge.*

Bacopa Monnieri is also an adaptogen, which can help the body adapt to stressors and maintain balance. It has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to promote a sense of calm and tranquility, which can contribute to cognitive function.REF#1269

What Are the Health Benefits of Bacopa?

As more and more people turn to herbal medicine, Bacopa is experiencing increasing popularity as a nootropic aid. Bacopa offers antioxidant support to brain health and may promote a thriving mind.*

Researchers have found that Bacopa can help support cognitive function, focus, and memory.REF#1268

Extract of Bacopa can enhance brain function by supporting the activity of enzymes responsible for neurotransmitter synthesis. This can, in turn, help support memory, concentration, and overall cognitive performance.REF#1268

Bacopa may minimize oxidative stress caused by free radicals in the brain, a function that can support cognitive function, working memory, and cognitive performance. Studies have also suggested that Bacopa extract may have an adaptogenic effect on the brain, supporting balanced cortisol levels and blood pressure.REF#1268

Bacopa extract may have short-term effects on neurotransmitters such as dopamine, serotonin, and acetylcholine, which are crucial for healthy brain function. Additionally, it has shown potential as a cognitive enhancer.REF#1268

Animal studies have also shown that Bacopa extract can support the growth of dendrites (an extension of the nerve cell where impulses are transmitted to and from other cells) and the health of brain cells and neurons. Long-term use of Bacopa extract may significantly support cognitive performance, memory, and overall emotional wellness.REF#1268

Bacopa Scientific Research

Research conducted by scientists like Singh, Stough C, Downey, and Kumar has helped to identify the numerous benefits of Bacopa extract, leading to its increased use in neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychopharmacology.

Several clinical trials and meta-analyses studied Bacopa on its potential cognitive-enhancing effects. Bacosides’ antioxidant properties suggest they may support short- and long-term brain health for people in all stages of life.*

  • A 2014 meta-analysis of nine studies, published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology and enrolling 518 volunteers, found that Bacopa could support cognition, especially attention, and processing speed.*REF#1265
  • A 2008 double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 48 older adults published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine showed Bacopa supported memory and mood in healthy adults.*REF#1266REF#1268
  • A 2016 review of five studies, published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine, concluded Bacopa monnieri extract supported memory and attention in children and adolescents.*REF#1267

Bacopa Components

Bacopa contains many active compounds, including bacosides, alkaloids, saponins, and flavonoids. Bacosides are important bioactive compounds that may support cholinergic transmission in the brain, which is essential for memory and learning processes.REF#1268

Alkaloids, such as brahmine and herpestine, are shown to have anxiolytic effects, which may help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety.REF#1268

Saponins, such as bacopasides I-V, may have neuroprotective effects and help support the body’s defenses against age-related cognitive decline.REF#1268

Flavonoids, such as apigenin, luteolin, and quercetin, are also potent antioxidants that may help protect the brain and cells from oxidative damage.

Are there any Side Effects of Using Bacopa?

Bacopa is generally safe when taken in recommended doses, but like any supplement or medication, it may cause side effects and toxicity in some individuals.

Some common side effects of Bacopa use include dry mouth, gastrointestinal issues such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, fatigue, and increased bowel movements.REF#1268

It's important to talk to a healthcare provider before taking Bacopa or any supplement, especially if you are taking other medications, have a pre-existing medical condition, or are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Gaia Herbs' Commitment to Quality

As awareness of nootropic herbs in general and Bacopa has explicitly grown in recent years, we at Gaia Herbs were excited to add this revered herb to our line of cognitive products. But there was a problem — actually, two problems. First, Bacopa was not widely available. Second, given Bacopa’s ability to thrive and absorb the moisture of its environment, it is notorious for absorbing its environment's pollutants, such as pesticides, microbes, and heavy metals, so commercially available Bacopa is frequently contaminated. That wouldn’t do.

We didn't give up when Gaia Herbs couldn’t find raw Bacopa up to our rigorous quality standards. Instead, we decided if the mountain wouldn’t come to us, we’d go to the mountain (the Blue Ridge Mountains, that is). We decided to grow Bacopa in the Gaia Herbs Greenhouse in North Carolina.

Introducing Gaia Herbs Bacopa

Gaia Herbs then began a three-year journey to cultivate some of the highest-quality Bacopa in the world, becoming one of the only U.S.-grown sources of this Ayurvedic herb. Our Bacopa is rich in phytochemicals and free from contaminants, meeting our exacting quality standards for Purity, Integrity, and Potency.

For those who want Bacopa and only Bacopa, we offer a concentrated, full-spectrum, single-herb extract to support overall cognitive health.* For those who prefer a synergistic formula, Agile Mind® blends Bacopa with other traditional herbs such as Turmeric and Ginkgo to support healthy brain function and help maintain healthy recall.


  • 1. Kongkeaw C, Dilokthornsakul P, Thanarangsarit P, Limpeanchob N, Norman Scholfield C., "Kongkeaw C, Dilokthornsakul P, Thanarangsarit P, Limpeanchob N, Norman Scholfield C.", J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):528-35..
  • 2. Calabrese C, Gregory WL, Leo M, Kraemer D, Bone K, Oken B., "Effects of a standardized Bacopa monnieri extract on cognitive performance, anxiety, and depression in the elderly: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial", J Altern Complement Med. 2008 Jul;14(6):707-13..
  • 3. Kean JD, Downey LA, Stough C, "A systematic review of the Ayurvedic medicinal herb Bacopa monnieri in child and adolescent populations", Complement Ther Med. 2016 Dec;29:56-62..
  • 4. Aguiar S, Borowski T., "Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri.", Rejuvenation Res. 2013 Aug;16(4):313-26..
  • 5. Rai, D., Bhatia, G., Palit, G., Pal, R., Singh, S., & Singh, H. K. (2003), "Adaptogenic effect of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi)", Pharmacology, biochemistry, and behavior, 75(4), 823–830..