Bacopa monnieri (“bacopa” for short) is a well-known herb in India, where it is commonly referred to as “brahmi,” used in Ayurvedic medicine as a “brain tonic” to improve cognitive function, including memory and learning, as well as to treat health conditions such as anxiety and epilepsy.

Bacopa is frequently listed as an ingredient in dietary supplement products marketed to improve or maintain memory, learning retention, concentration, focus, and overall health in terms of cognitive function and performance.

The evidence is inconclusive as to whether bacopa can help Military Service Members reach their health goals for cognitive performance and brain health.

Can bacopa boost brain health and performance?

Some of the latest research has shown improvements for brain health, attention, and memory-related performance tasks after the use of 300–320 mg per day of bacopa, as soon as one hour after taking the dietary supplement and for as long as 12 weeks of taking the dietary supplement. Some other of the latest research, however, has shown no improvements, especially when participants took higher amounts (450–640 mg per day). A variety of products and serving sizes of bacopa have been used in research and in different types of cognitive performance tests to see if participants reached their health goals. Overall, the research consists of small studies, which makes it hard to say whether it works for brain health and enhanced performance.

Can bacopa negatively affect my health and performance?

A few studies have reported adverse events with the use of 300 mg per day of bacopa over a 12-week duration. Side effects include dry mouth, nausea, diarrhea, and fatigue. The safety of long-term use, and of both short-term and long-term use of higher amounts per day, of bacopa is unknown.

The bottom line

There isn’t enough scientific evidence to know whether the use of bacopa as a dietary supplement can improve cognitive performance for Military Service Members looking for a boost in brain health. Higher serving sizes do not show any benefit over lower serving sizes in the short term. The safety of both short-term and long-term use is uncertain.

The information here is for use of bacopa as a single dietary supplement ingredient. No evidence is available for the use of bacopa combined with other dietary supplement ingredients. With multiple-ingredient supplement products, it is nearly impossible to know which substance might cause any benefit or adverse event.


Updated 04 January 2021


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