Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is an herbal extract with a long history of use in Ayurvedic traditions that has become increasingly studied for its positive effects on your cognitive functioning.
It’s been investigated as a treatment for cognitive decline in elderly patients, as well as a cognitive enhancer in young and healthy people.
Whether you are looking to preserve your brain function as you get older or enhance your cognitive abilities beyond your usual level, bacopa monnieri is worth a look.
Our research team has ranked and reviewed the ten best bacopa monnieri supplements on the market, and summarized the latest scientific research into the cognitive benefits and side effects of bacopa monnieri supplements.
1. Himalaya Bacopa
Himalaya Bacopa uses bacopa grown and extracted in India, where there is a long tradition of using bacopa in traditional healing.
The plant materials used are totally organic, and the dosage is excellent: 250 mg of organic bacopa extract, containing 24% bacopa saponins, and 500 mg of raw bacopa plant material.
Thanks to all of these advantages, Himalaya Bacopa is our top pick if you are looking for a pure and high dose bacopa source.
2. TR Supplements Bacopa
TR Supplements Bacopa uses two strategies to deliver a high dose of bacopa monnieri. First, the amount of bacopa monnieri extract in each capsule is quite high, at 750 mg (standardized to 20% bacosides).
Second, each capsule contains 5 mg of BioPerine, a proprietary black pepper extract that’s been shown to increase the absorption and amplify the biological activity of a number of herbal compounds. If more typical bacopa monnieri supplements aren’t working for you, give this higher dosage and higher bioavailability supplement a try.
3. Banyan Botanicals Bacopa Monnieri
Banyan Botanicals makes the best raw, powderized bacopa monnieri source. These large bags of half a pound contain only one ingredient: raw, organically grown bacopa monnieri, made using the whole plant.
If you want to follow traditional practices as closely as possible, this is the product for you. The only downside is that you’ll likely need a milligram-accurate scale to measure out precise dosages, if that’s important to you.
4. Doctor’s Best Bacopa with Synapsa
Doctor’s Best has a bacopa monnieri supplement that uses a proprietary bacopa extraction process to produce Synapsa, an extract with a particularly high concentration of bacosides.
While other supplements may contain 20-24% bacosides, this supplement has 55%. Not only that, but the dose of the extract (320 mg) is high enough to make this the supplement that delivers the most potent dose of bacosides, so if you want a bacopa monnieri supplement that packs a punch, this is a good pick.
5. Havasu Nutrition NeuroIgnite
Havasu Nutrition NeuroIgnite is one of the best multi-ingredient supplements for cognitive function that incorporates a substantial amount of bacopa monnieri.
Each capsule delivers 300 mg of bacopa monnieri extract, which is standardized to contain 20% bacosides, so even alongside the other ingredients that increase cognitive function, you are getting a substantial dose of bacopa monnieri.
If single-ingredient bacopa monnieri supplements aren’t doing the trick for you, give NeuroIgnite a try.
6. Pure Mountain Botanicals Bacopa
Pure Mountain Botanicals Bacopa contains 300 mg of raw bacopa monnieri plant material and 100 mg bacopa extract, standardized to contain 20% of the active compounds contained in bacopa.
The capsules are vegan-friendly, and the dosage is solid. Add to that the fact that there are no additional ingredients, other than the cellulose that makes up the capsule, and you’ve got a very solid pick.
7. Zhou Neuro-Peak
Zhou Neuro-Peak is a multi-ingredient nootropic supplement that uses bacopa monnieri as one of its foundational ingredients.
Each capsule contains 300 mg of bacopa monnieri plant material, as well as vitamin B12, phosphatidylserine, ginkgo biloba, and several other brain boosting supplements, though bacopa is the one delivered at the highest dosage.
Though this isn’t the pick for you if you are looking for high doses of bacopa monnieri, or for a bacopa monnieri supplement that does not include other biologically active compounds, it’s a solid pick if you want a combined-action brain supplement.
8. Pure Encapsulations Bacopa Monnieri
Pure Encapsulations Bacopa Monnieri is a good choice if you want to focus only on taking a concentrated extract from the bacopa monnieri plant.
While other supplements include raw plant material in their capsules, Pure Encapsulations Bacopa Monnieri does not—it just has 200 mg of bacopa extract, with 20% bacosides.
Traditional practices hold that there are some benefits in the raw plant material, so if you ascribe to this belief, you might want to choose a different option.
9. Double Wood Supplements Bacopa Extract
Double Wood Supplements Bacopa Extract delivers a high dose of 450 mg of bacopa monnieri extract in a gelatin-based capsule. The dosage is solid, though this bacopa supplement doesn’t really distinguish itself from the crowd in any other way, and some users might prefer a cellulose-based capsule.
10. 1 Body Brain Support
Though 1 Body Brain Support is a brain-boosting supplement that uses bacopa monnieri as one of its key ingredients, the dosage is rather small, at under 100 mg per capsule.
On top of that, this dose isn’t standardized to contain any given amount of bacosides or saponins, so while this supplement may provide some cognitive benefits, the chances that a large portion of these will come from the bacopa seem unlikely.
Who Should Buy Bacopa Monnieri?
Bacopa monnieri is safe for most adults and is great for persons looking to reduce stress and improve memory. It is also suitable for individuals suffering from insomnia or other sleep disorders since it has powerful calming effects on the central nervous system.
Bacopa monnieri should not be consumed by children or pregnant women unless otherwise directed by a medical professional.
How We Ranked
When ranking our Bacopa supplements, the first thing we looked at was the type of Bacopa. Bacopa can come in either the generic form or patented form, known as Synapsa. At least six human studies have demonstrated that Synapsa supplements, like Doctor’s Best, may improve working memory, information retention, and visual processing. However, if the Bacopa supplement has been tested to verify the active ingredients, potency, and heavy metal content, we didn’t find a significant difference in quality between the patented Synapsa Bacopa Extract and any other non-patented generic forms of bacopa monnieri supplements.
For our rankings, we wanted a supplement, like Double Wood, that provided servings of at least 120mg bacoside. However, we did prefer a supplement with 320 mg of bacopa standardized to 55% bacoside, like Doctor’s Best, as this is what is often used in scientific studies.
We also looked at the supporting ingredients in each supplement. While we did like the idea of pure Bacopa supplements like Himalaya Bacopa, we weren’t against products that included other proven brain supporting ingredients such as L-theanine, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids. We also ranked products like Havasu Neuroignite, which included other natural nootropics that support healthy cognitive aging, including alpha GPC, and ginkgo biloba.
The delivery method was also important to consider. In general, we preferred capsule products like 1 Body Brain Support, over powdered Bacopa. The main reason was due to accurate dosing, but we also found that Bacopa powder did not have a great taste, which makes powder less desirable.
Lastly, we looked at purity since Bacopa has an affinity for drawing in heavy metals from the earth when growing as a plant – which can be toxic to humans. We preferred companies that performed an analysis of the heavy metal contents of their Bacopa supplement and provided a certificate of analysis for both purity and active contents. If the vendor of a Bacopa supplement didn’t or wouldn’t provide a certificate of analysis, we axed them from the list.
Bacopa monnieri benefits and side effects
Bacopa monnieri has long been used in traditional ayurvedic medicine for better physical and mental well-being, but modern scientific and nutritional research has homed in on its uses as a supplement for preserving or even improving cognitive function.
This has applications in the treatment and prevention of neurodegenerative diseases like dementia and Alzheimer’s, but bacopa monnieri may also be a potent enhancer of cognitive performance in healthy people.
To this end, it’s a common ingredient in many nootropics, which are supplements that enhance brain function. How does bacopa monnieri achieve these benefits? We’ll dig into the scientific research to find out.
Bacopa monnieri may protect your brain from cognitive decline. The traditional uses of bacopa monnieri inspired more structured scientific research into whether it could protect brain function.
One study was published in 2014 in the journal Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment which explored whether bacopa monnieri might be a useful treatment for people with early stage cognitive degeneration (1).
The study involved 104 elderly people, all of whom had been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, which can lead to progressively worse cognitive function over time.
As the study was an exploratory one, there was no control group, but all of the participants took a baseline test of their cognitive abilities.
They then underwent a 60-day supplementation routine on a bacopa monnieri supplement, and underwent the cognitive testing protocol again.
The results suggested that bacopa monnieri had a beneficial effect on the cognitive performance of the subjects in the study.
Research in animals provides a plausible biological pathway for the neuroprotective effects of bacopa monneiri. While the study we looked at above was a preliminary study, not a randomized clinical trial, there are some studies in animals that provide a plausible biological mechanism for the effect.
One such study was published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology by a team of researchers in Thailand (2).
The study used mice who were administered a bacopa monnieri extract at varying doses, then exposed to a chemical agent that induces Alzheimer’s-like degenerative changes in the brain. The researchers found that the bacopa monnieri created a protective effect against Alzheimer’s in the mice.
Bacopa monnieri can improve cognitive performance in elderly people, even if they don’t have dementia. A randomized clinical trial conducted by researchers in Portland, Oregon explored whether bacopa monnieri could be useful for improving cognitive function among the elderly, even if they did not show any signs of dementia.
The trial involved 54 healthy elderly people who had normal cognitive function (3). The subjects were randomly assigned either a bacopa monnieri supplement or a placebo, which they took for a period of 12 weeks.
The results showed that the elderly subjects who had taken the bacopa monnieri supplement increased their performance on memory and concentration tests when compared to the subjects who took the placebo.
These findings indicate that bacopa could be beneficial beyond just treating or preventing cognitive decline—healthy elderly people could use it to increase their mental sharpness, concentration, and memory.
The cognitive enhancing effects of bacopa monnieri seem particularly strong when it comes to recall memory. A meta-analysis published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine looked at the results of six different individual studies on the benefits of bacopa monnieri on memory (4).
Though the studies used several different specific tests of cognitive function, and the studies found a broad range of results, the researchers noted that one category of memory seemed to be consistently improved. This category was recall memory, which is usually tested with things like word lists, story summaries, and other tasks that involve learning something, storing it in memory, then recalling it later during the experiment.
The precise biological mechanisms of this effect is not clear, but bacopa monnieri does seem to affect the neurochemistry of the brain. Research published in the journal Phytotherapy Research examined the chemistry inside the brains of rats given a bacopa monnieri extract (5).
The researchers found an increase in the synthesis of several proteins related to cognitive function, suggesting that bacopa monnieri directly influences brain function, which could at least in part explain its benefits for memory recall.
The most commonly reported side effect of bacopa monnieri is stomach pain or gastrointestinal problems.
A relatively small fraction of patients in clinical studies report these symptoms, and the incidence of these problems is similar in people given a placebo, so it’s not clear if bacopa monnieri is even the cause of the problem (6).
Other studies have reported side effects like drowsiness and allergies, though again it’s not clear whether bacopa actually caused these side effects or whether they merely happened during the study but were unrelated (7).
Some evidence suggests that bacopa monnieri may increase the synthesis of acetylcholine, which is known to lead to lead to gastrointestinal side effects.
Some researchers even take this as a sign of bacopa monnieri efficacy, pointing to similar side effects in compounds known to increase acetylcholine levels (8). While this might be a good sign from an efficacy standpoint, it does underscore the need to be aware that bacopa monnieri could cause a range of gastrointestinal side effects, though there are usually mild.
Most clinical research on bacopa monnieri has explored doses ranging from 200 mg per day to 450 mg per day, taken in one single daily dosage.
The bacoside content of the supplements used in clinical research is usually standardized to 20-24%, so the studies are delivering a known dosage of the compounds though to be responsible for the beneficial effects of bacopa monnieri on cognitive functioning and cognitive protection.
Doses outside this range have not been researched as heavily, so the side effect profile in higher doses is not well-characterized.
Does Bacopa cause more side effects if you take medication? Some side effects you may experience from consuming include cramping, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. You are more likely to experience adverse side effects when Bacopa Monnieri is consumed while you’re on medication.
Does Bacopa increase serotonin? Though not fully confirmed by science and research, there is a possibility that Bacopa Monnieri may increase serotonin levels in the body. In particular, some studies have noted that the consumption of Bacopa Monnieri assisted in the production and maintenance of more serotonin in the body. If you are looking to increase serotonin levels, you will have to consume Bacopa daily for an extended period of time.
Is Bacopa effective for depression? Bacopa Monnieri is not approved to treat mental illnesses like depression, and you should consult a medical health professional before using or relying on this substance as a method of treatment.
How long does it take for Bacopa to work? If you are seeking improvement in memory, mood, brain functioning, or focus, you’ll need to consume Bacopa Monnieri on a daily basis for several weeks or months before you begin to notice positive changes. You may also not experience a positive reaction to Bacopa Monnieri, as most of the benefits associated with the substance have been unconfirmed by science.
What does Bacopa do for the body? Bacopa Monnieri typically targets the central nervous system and its ability to function properly. Bacopa Monnieri has also been shown to reduce cortisol levels in the body, which reduces levels of stress and potentially decreases symptoms of anxiety disorders.
Additionally, Bacopa Monnieri may help to improve memory and focus, which can be helpful in the treatment of central nervous system disorders as well as improve learning at any age. Though not entirely confirmed by science, there is a possibility that Bacopa Monnieri may positively impact patients with diabetes because of its potential ability to manage blood sugar levels. Bacopa Monnieri also includes antioxidants, which can help to fight the development of diseases in the future.
Can you eat Bacopa Monnieri? While Bacopa Monnieri is most often consumed in the form of powder or tablets, you can eat the leaves raw. Some people suggest eating the leaves similar to how you would eat salad or other vegetables, which provides you the same benefits as using tablets or powder. As of now, there are no reported differences between the different consumption methods of Bacopa Monnieri. Just like any food or supplement, you should consume the leaves of the Bacopa Monnieri plant in moderation, as the science is still relatively young.
How much Bacopa Monnieri should you take? Most tables will come in a dose of 300 and 500 milligrams, as that seems to be the minimum effective dosage for improved memory and stress tolerance. If you’re preparing Bacopa Monnieri in the form of tea, you’ll be using about two to five teaspoons of the powder per cup of tea. Because the potential side effects of Bacopa Monnieri are relatively unknown, you should limit how much you consume per day.
What is Bacopa Monnieri? Bacopa Monnieri is a flowering herb that can be grown worldwide in wetland and marshy areas. The plant itself often produces white flowers, though the leaves of the plant are what is used in tablets and powders. The positive effects of Bacopa Monnieri are mostly anecdotal in nature, but there have been a few studies proving how beneficial this product can be on the central nervous system.
Are Bacopa and Brahmi the same? Bacopa Monnieri is known by several other names, including Brahmi, water hyssop, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort. Bacopa Monnieri and Brahmi are most common and are the terms used to label the bottles or containers of these products.
Does Bacopa Monnieri improve memory? The impact that Bacopa Monnieri has on memory is one of the major reasons that scientists and medical professionals have researched the plant. In one study, researchers recruited a group of study participants aged 65 and older to determine if Bacopa Monnieri could positively affect their memory capabilities. At the conclusion of the study, scientists determined that Bacopa Monierri can improve memory functioning and also reduce rates of anxiety and depression in older adults (1).
Does Bacopa Monnieri improve recall? Other studies conducted have targeted the effects of Bacopa Monnieri on short-term memory and recall. When tested in individuals aged 40 to 65, the results show that those consuming the product were less likely to forget new information than those who were not consuming it (2).
Why does Bacopa Monnieri benefit the brain? The reason that Bacopa Monnieri may positively affect brain functioning and memory is due to its ability to reduce inflammation in the central nervous system. One study suggested that came to this conclusion suggested that Bacopa Monnieri may be a useful tool in treating conditions and diseases of the central nervous system, though the actual impact it would have is still unknown (3).
Can you take Bacopa Monnieri with milk? If you’re consuming Bacopa Monnieri in the form of powder, the most common liquid to mix it with is water. However, if you prefer milk, juice, or other liquids, you can combine it with those instead and drink it the same as you would with water. When mixing it with milk, you can mix it with cold or hot milk, depending on your preferences.
How can you use Bacopa Monnieri leaves at home? If you have access to the leaves, you have the ability to grind the leaves into a powder to add to water and drink like tea, or you can eat the leaves raw as if you were eating a salad, The most common method of consuming Bacopa Monnieri, however, is in the form of tablets or powder (combined with water or milk).
Is Bacopa Monnieri sedative? It’s possible that you may experience a sedative effect when consuming Bacopa Monnieri regularly. The reason for this sedative effect is likely due to the decrease in cortisol and calm feeling produced after consuming Brahmi.
Bacopa Monnieri is actually considered a tonic for the human nervous system, which causes the nervous system to produce an increase in focus as well as a decrease in stress and other negative emotions. This helps to explain why you might feel tired or sleepy after consuming Bacopa Monnieri.
What does a Bacopa Monnieri plant look like? Bacopa Monnieri is a perennial herb native to nearly every continent in the world. The plant itself produces white flowers and looks like the average herb. If you’re wondering if you’ve seen a Bacopa Monnieri plant out in the wild, unless you live in a marshy or wetland area, it’s highly unlikely. In the United States, you have the best chance of seeing a Brahmi plant if you’re in Hawaii, Texas, or Florida.
What time of day should you take Bacopa Monnieri? Generally speaking, the time of day that you take Bacopa Monnieri does not really matter. Important to note before you begin taking Bacopa Monnieri is that you should consume food prior to taking the tablet. Failing to do so may result in unfavorable side effects or gastrointestinal upset.
Where can you buy Bacopa Monnieri? Bacopa Monnieri is easiest to find online from health and wellness distributors, as well as websites like Amazon. There are some physical stores that may sell Bacopa Monnieri products, including The Vitamin Shoppe, as well as major pharmacies.
Can Bacopa Monnieri reduce anxiety? The positive effects that Bacopa Monnieri has on anxiety are mostly anecdotal, but it’s believed that the consumption of Bacopa Monnieri reduces the amount of cortisol produced in the body. When cortisol levels are high, you might experience more stress and fear, which are common symptoms of anxiety.
Do Bacopa Monnieri tablets work? Bacopa Monnieri tablets are usually advertised as being an effective treatment method for conditions like Alzheimer’s disease, anxiety, and ADHD. Most bottles state that taking the supplement will cause an increase in memory and brain functioning.
While there have been studies that have shown that Bacopa Monnieri can improve some of these conditions, the results of the study were not significant enough to back up these claims.
What is the herb Bacopa used for? Though there has been no solid confirmation when it comes to using Bacopa to treat illnesses and diseases, many people assert that Bacopa can relieve symptoms of many conditions, including epilepsy (reducing seizures), memory, anxiety, and attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
As a home remedy, Bacopa has also been used as a treatment for joint pain and sleep difficulty. However, you should keep in mind that these are severe conditions, and you should consult your doctor about approved treatment strategies before using Bacopa (or other supplements) to aid your condition.
Bacopa monnieri is one of the most promising nootropic supplements.
In addition to its potential to boost cognitive performance in healthy people, especially the elderly, it has also shown promise as a way to lessen the effects of cognitive decline, though research on this front is in the early stages.
Whether you are using this supplement for protecting or enhancing your brain function, there’s some very exciting evidence that indicates that bacopa monnieri could be one of the most effective supplements on the market in this category.
For Body Nutrition’s #1 Bacopa monnieri recommendation, click here.