We are all under stress sometimes. It could involve worrying about a load of job tasks for tomorrow, or an important event. Anxiety is a feeling of fear and worrying even when there is no apparent stressor.
Only those who experience anxiousness frequently know how these feelings can affect the entire quality of life. Fortunately, natural remedies can assist in managing anxiety and achieving relaxation and calmness. Bacopa leaf extract is one of the ingredients used in herbal supplements for this purpose.
Can Bacopa truly be effective to achieve a peace of mind? Is it worth consuming it or picking a supplement that includes it? We look at the studies, and here is what the research says.
Bacopa – A Brief Overview
The plant called Bacopa also has many other names. Many people know it as Brahmi, but also water hyssop, and Indian pennywort. The full scientific name is Bacopa monnieri. The herb doesn’t have a distinctive smell. Its leaves are about 1/5-inch thick and often used in herbal supplements. The flowers have up to five petals.
Bacopa grows throughout the world, but it might be most popular in India. That is because Bacopa has been used for various applications in Ayurvedic medicine. For over 1,000 years, Ayurveda practitioners recommended this plant as an analgesic, memory enhancer, and antipyretic. They also applied it as a sedative.
That is what inspired modern medicine to initiate research on the benefits that Bacopa could deliver. The studies have been conducted for decades, and scientists have pretty reliable results.
Can Bacopa Help You to Feel Calmer and Better?
Research Study 1 (Bacopa Leaf & Stress/Mood)
In 2013, the results of a study that relates Bacopa to stress and positive mood were published. The researchers used multitasking as a way to put the participants under stress and test their mood. A total of 17 healthy adults agreed on taking a role in the study. They received a placebo, but also doses of Bacopa monnieri extract. The doses varied from 320 milligrams to 640 milligrams.
Two hours after consuming the extract, the users had a decrease in cortisol levels in their saliva. The researchers also noted positive changes in their mood.
The conclusion was that Bacopa's mechanisms of action involve reducing the stress that people might feel in stressful situations.
Research Study 2 (Bacopa Leaf & Stress)
Another study published in 2003 discussed the adaptogenic properties of Bacopa. The research was conducted on rats, which were given Bacopa before stress exposure.
The scientists indicate that taking Bacopa may reduce the negative effects of acute stress on the human body. In the long turm, Brahmi may also be helpful for chronic stress problems.
The researchers concluded that the plant has significant adaptogenic characteristics.
Research Study 3 (Bacopa Leaf & Anxiety)
Phytomedicine published the results of a study conducted in India in 1998. It had the goal of investigating the anxiolytic properties of Bacopa. The animal-based study included several tests on rats, including elevated-plus-maze, open-field, feeding latency tests, and social interaction.
The doses of Brahmi extract used varied, and it was about 10 milligrams per kilogram that were enough to experience significant benefits for anxiety.
It is interesting to note that the researchers concluded Bacopa could deliver similar effects to lorazepam, which is a famous anxiolytic medication. That indicates two things – the first one is that Brahmi could be a natural alternative to lorazepam, which is convenient because there are no side effects. The other indication is that Bacopa could be even more useful than the drug because it doesn’t have amnesic properties, but promotes cognitive performance.
Research Study 4 (Bacopa Leaf & Stress/Relaxation)
Stress usually might go hand in hand with elevated blood pressure. If you are dealing with hypertension, Brahmi is a plant whose extract could help. According to a study published in 2011, Bacopa has hypotensive properties, which means it can assist in lowering blood pressure. The researchers used rats and intravenous application of the plant’s extract.
The results were encouraging because Brahmi reduced both diastolic and systolic pressures. At the same time, it didn't affect the heart rate of the rats.
The researchers explain that the vasodilating characteristics of Bacopa are what reduces blood pressure.
Research Study 5 (Bacopa Leaf & Stress/Anxiety)
An important study about the effects of Bacopa on stress and anxiety was published in 2008. The researchers focused on elderly participants who were at least 65 years old. However, all 48 participants who completed the trial didn't exhibit any dementia signs.
The researchers administered Bacopa extract to 50% of the participants, while the other half received a placebo. It was like that for 12 weeks, and the results were surprising.
First, the trait and state anxiety ratings were lowered in people who received Bacopa. The researchers noted the same results in stress ratings, and memory scores were also better in the group that consumed plant extract.
That is only one of many studies proving a nootropic effect of Bacopa, apart from the anxiolytic and adaptogenic properties.
Research Study 6 (Bacopa Leaf & Anxiety/Depression)
Mice were the subject of another study conducted in India in 2010. The researchers tested Bacopa extract and compared it to Panax quniquefollum. According to the results, both extracts showed well in reducing symptoms of mixed anxiety-depressive disorder.
Bacopa showed antidepressant and anxiolytic properties without affecting coordination.
That means cognitive performance remained at an optimal level.
Research Study 7 (Bacopa Leaf & GABA Levels)
When it comes to mechanisms of action, a neuropharmacology review of this plant shows that it can increase GABA levels in the human body. GABA or gamma-aminobutyric acid has the task of calming you down and promoting a positive mood.
The research established that Bacopa could increase GABA levels in the hippocampus by approximately 20%.
After reviewing the various studies on bacopa leaf, it is evident that the herb may possess some great properties to help with anxiety and mood.