Brahmi - Bacopa Monnieri - Ayurveda remedy for mental health

December 07, 2015

Conditions

Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a specific form of dementia that represent about 70% of total cases. It usually affects people aged 65 years old or more, and its symptoms range from inability to focus, to loss of short-term memory, difficulties in communication and language, and a general decline in mental faculties1.

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How does Brahmi help cognitive functions?

Apart from a few medications that may help improve some of the cognitive symptoms of AD, medical science still didn’t find any effective pharmacological therapy able to halt or slow this condition’s progression. Some new studies, however, are investigating the purported effectiveness of some herbal remedies that could improve the cognitive deficit associated with this disease, such as the Ayurvedic herb known as Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)2.

A majority of brain tonic agents stimulate and sometimes deplete brain neurons. It has been shown that Bacopa can nourish the nervous system and boost brain function, learning, memory, and neuroprotection. Bacopa was used in combination with Centella in early times to help boost memory. Contemporary science can help clarify why these two herbs might be better together than apart. The most well-studied components of Bacopa that work especially on the brain, are called bacosides. This is a chemical compound that belongs to the triterpenoid saponin group. Bacosides are shown to be neurotransmitter-stimulating, neuroprotective, brain antioxidants that boost cerebral blood circulation. While Bacopa was suggested in support of numerous neurological and brain health mechanisms, it appears to stand out as support for memory, focus, clarity, mood, learning, and healthy cognitive function.

The brain carries high levels of iron, which may be oxidized. This makes the brain quite susceptible to harm from oxidation and toxicity, much like an iron car is more prone to rust or degenerate. Lots of the body's natural antioxidants can't cross the blood-brain barrier and consequently can't help stop oxidation-related damage. Bacosides are shown to cross the blood-brain barrier, encouraging and protecting the brain from toxins and oxidizing agents. Bacopa has also been proven to help prevent the chemical process responsible for the oxidation of good fats (lipid oxidation) in the brain. This is vital since the brain volume is made from cholesterol, which is extremely prone and vulnerable to oxidation damage.

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Science & Research on Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)

A moderate daily administration of Brahmi showed a positive effect on neuronal tropism, due to the activity of triterpenoid saponins (bacosides) that act as nootropic elements. The mechanisms of action of these substances seem to span from a direct anti-oxidant and neuroprotective effect of brain cells to a generalized improvement in cerebral blood flow and perfusion. Brahmi extracts also appear to be able to reduce the formation of the β-amyloid plaques deemed responsible for Alzheimer’s degeneration of cortical neurons. Bacopa monnieri also seems to be able to enhance cognitive function even in healthy subjects and can be thus used as a preventive treatment in high-risk subjects3.

The convolution related to memory is being solved with progress in neuroscience. According to the concurrent assumptions, synaptic plasticity creates among the foundation of memory formation, strengthening, and lengthening. In Alzheimer's disease (AD), which is usually characterized by memory impairment, connections among the cells in the brain are attenuated or lost, resulting in the degeneration of neural networks. Various attempts have been made to discover new treatments for memory dysfunction with increasing investments and attention being put on herbal drugs. Many herbal extracts and plants have documented favorable results when tested for anti-amnesic effects. Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) is one such common herbal medication, which can be employed for quite a long time in the Chinese and Indian medical system so as to treat several ailments. Previous research shows that Brahmi exerts many pharmacological effects such as memory boosting capacity in treating Alzheimer's disease and Schizophrenia, demonstrating antiparkinsonian, antistroke, and anticonvulsant potentials. The effectiveness of Brahmi in treating a variety of ailments has evoked sufficient research recently, and now it's a time to establish multiple clinical trials.


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References

1. Meds News. C. Butticè “Dementia and Alzheimer’s disease – Prevention and Treatment”. October 21, 2015. Retrieved from http://medsnews.com/health/dementia-and-alzheimers-disease-prevention-and-treatment/ (Accessed October 2015).

2. Pase, Matthew P.; Kean, James; Sarris, Jerome; Neale, Chris; Scholey, Andrew B.; Stough, Con (2012-07-01). "The Cognitive-Enhancing Effects of Bacopa monnieri: A Systematic Review of Randomized, Controlled Human Clinical Trials". The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 18 (7): 647–652. DOI:10.1089/acm.2011.0367. ISSN 1075-5535.

3. Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological Review of the Nootropic Herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Research. 2013;16(4):313-326. DOI:10.1089/rej.2013.1431.

4. Morgan A, Stevens J. Does Bacopa monnieri improve memory performance in older persons? Results of a randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial. J Altern Complement Med. 2010;16(7):753-759.

5. Kongkeaw C, Dilokthornsakul P, et al. Meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials on cognitive effects of Bacopa monnieri extract. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;151(1):528-535.

6. Cicero AF, Bove M, et al. Short-Term Impact of a Combined Nutraceutical on Cognitive Function, Perceived Stress and Depression in Young Elderly with Cognitive Impairment: A Pilot, Double-Blind, Randomized Clinical Trial. J Prev Alzheimer's Dis. 2017;4(1):12-15.

7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23772955

8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4124189/

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Authors:

Dr. Claudio Butticè, PharmD.

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