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.
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.
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.