Q & A Library
Bacopa: A Better Memory Booster?
What you can tell me about bacopa? I first read about it as a treatment for memory problems. Do you know anything about its effectiveness in treating memory problems or what the recommended dosage should be?
Answer (Published 4/4/2006)
Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is an herb native to India that has been used traditionally in Ayurvedic medicine to enhance memory, learning and concentration and also to treat anxiety, heart problems, digestive disorders, asthma, and bronchitis. Most of the research on bacopa has been in animals, but a few small studies on humans have also been done.
The single study I've been able to find on bacopa's effect on memory was a small, double-blind, placebo-controlled 12-week trial conducted in Australia with 46 volunteers between the ages of 18 and 60, divided into two groups. The volunteers in one group were given 300 milligrams of bacopa daily, and the others received a placebo. Prior to the study, the researchers tested all the volunteers to assess their verbal learning abilities, memory and speed of information processing. The tests were repeated five and 12 weeks after the study began. The researchers noted a significant improvement among the volunteers in the bacopa group compared to those in the placebo group.
A review article of some 38 scientific studies of bacopa was published in the March, 2004, issue of the journal Alternative Medicine Review, and noted two small studies that demonstrated an improvement in cognitive function in children as a result of taking bacopa. A single small-scale human study also found a decrease in anxiety symptoms among patients treated with bacopa.
Bacopa is now being widely promoted as a treatment for memory problems, but I would recommend more proven protective strategies. Keep your mind active by reading newspapers and books, doing crossword puzzles, playing musical instruments, participating in ongoing education, and learning a new language. As far as supplements to enhance memory are concerned, the ones listed below have been studied more thoroughly than bacopa:
Andrew Weil, M.D.
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