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What Are the Benefits of Bacopa?

By Sarah Terry

Also called brahmi, bacopa is a plant that’s been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine in India for thousands of years to treat asthma, epilepsy and mental illness. Medical researchers are studying bacopa’s usefulness in treating anxiety, Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline. You can use bacopa extract to improve mental function and memory, treat anxiety and depression, treat respiratory ailments, and prevent or heal stomach ulcers. The University of Michigan Health System recommends taking 5 to 10 grams daily of powdered bacopa, or 300 milligrams to 450 milligrams daily of bacopa extract containing 55 percent backsides -- the active constituents.

Improves Mental Function

Taking bacopa may help to improve your mental performance and cognitive function. Bacopa leaves contain bacosides, which can improve learning, memory and overall mental function, according to the University of Michigan Health System. Bacopa promotes new nerve production, helps to mend damaged nerve cells and improves nerve signals. According to Drug Digest, different animal studies have found that bacopa can improve learning ability and memory, but human studies haven’t yielded the same positive results. A study of healthy individuals who took bacopa for three months found that the accuracy of their memory improved, and small studies of children in India found that taking 1,000 milligrams per day of bacopa improved memory, reaction time and observation. But another study of 76 people aged 40 to 65 years found that taking bacopa had no impact on restoring memory and only slight improvement in retaining new information.

Eases Depression and Anxiety

If you have depression or anxiety, taking bacopa could help. Bacopa boosts the effects of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine, states the University of Michigan Health System. This effect on neurotransmitters is what enables bacopa to decrease depression and anxiety symptoms. According to Drug Digest, animal studies of bacopa’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression have produced positive results, finding that bacopa was nearly as effective as common prescription anti-anxiety medications, but without the side effects. Some human studies failed to find any anti-anxiety benefits from taking bacopa, however.

Prevents & Treats Stomach Ulcers

Bacopa might help in preventing and healing stomach ulcers, as well as protecting your gastrointestinal tract. Bacopa stimulates production of mucus in the gastrointestinal tract and appears to protect stomach cells, Drug Digest reports. Another action that helps to prevent and treat ulcers is bacopa’s ability to relax the muscles that control the intestinal blood vessels, according to animal studies cited by the University of Michigan Health System.

Treats Respiratory Conditions

Bacopa may help to treat or relieve your symptoms of certain respiratory ailments, including allergies and asthma. Bacopa relaxes the bronchioles, which often become inflamed or irritated from respiratory conditions. Bacopa extracts also relax the blood vessel muscles around the respiratory airway passages, notes the University of Michigan Health System.

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