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Author Topic: Bacopa monnieri (Brahmi) - Serotonergic, Nootropic, Meditative Mind Rejuvenative  (Read 2208 times)

akosi

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Bacopa monnieri is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that goes by the name Brahmi.  It has traditionally been used in India as a "Medhya Rasayana", or a mind enhancing tonic.  Bacopa is sedative in action, which shows us a bit about how the ideas of intelligence have shifted over time and culture.  Nowadays, stimulants are considered to be more beneficial to the mind, perhaps because the focus of our lives has also been shifted into a work and produce type mindset.  It does make one wonder about what was heralded in ancient India as intelligence and what human traits and characteristics were desirable.

Bacopa has activity as a NMDA antagonist, serotonergic, anti-epileptic, anti-oxidant, nootropic, sedative, anxiolytic, and anti-dopaminergic.

Bacopa is unique in its pharmacology in that it upregulates serotonin synthesis by the enzyme Tryptophan Hydroxylase (TPH2) and by increasing the expression of the serotonin transporter (SERT).

Bacopa monniera leaf extract up-regulates tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH2) and serotonin transporter (SERT) expression: implications in memory formation.

Bacopa also shows improvement in spatial learning performance and enhanced memory retention, and when taken for a period of 4-6 weeks, shows promising activity at stimulating neurogenesis, significantly increasing the dendritic intersections and dendritic branching points along the length of both apical and basal dendrites which occur in brain neurons. 

What this means is that when bacopa is taken daily for some time, it strengthens the neuronal networks which send electrical signals to the brain.  Bacopa specifically enhances the networks associated with memory such as the hippocampus and the basolateral amygdala.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21892534


Bacopa also has some acetylcholine type activity, believing to function as a mild acetylcholine esterase inhibitor, letting levels of acetylcholine rise higher than normal.  This is not believed to be one of its major effects, but does play a part in the whole spectrum that makes up the total effects of the herb.

Additionally bacopa prevents dopamine induced neurotoxicity making it an excellent low dose companion for stimulant herbs such as mucuna pruriens, and also has adaptogenic type effects, reducing stress.  Bacopa is neuroprotective, prevents neuroinflammation, increases the levels of SOD (super-oxide dimutase), increases cerebral blood flow, has NMDA antagonistic effects, and influences the secretion of endogenous opioids.


Bacopa is strongly sedative in dopamine-high individuals, and initial use of the herb in doses above 1 gram may cause notable feelings of sleepiness or content relaxation in these individuals.  The sedative effects do go away over time but the herb definitely has the potential to negate the desired effects of stimulant herbs.  I prefer low dose bacopa (500 mg raw herb powder) as a daily adjunct with herbal stimulants, and higher doses at night to encourage restful sleep and dreams.  Taking bacopa at night may have potential in re sensitizing the dopamine system, while any supplementation will also sensitive the serotonin system.  I do not personally find bacopa all that useful for work, but dose, individual neurochemistry, and additional substances may produce different results.
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plantmind

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I find bacopa to be a strong dream enhancer, though the effects have changed drastically over time for me. It was once a powerful sedative but now i can take double the amount I used to in the morning and feel normal.
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akosi

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That is good to know, bacopa makes me very sleepy when I begin taking it, to the point where it can be detrimental at times.  I think that because of it's activity at the NMDA receptor, it upregulates dopamine receptor functioning, or at least part of it in a sense providing a very unique way to enhance the dopaminergic aspect of 'interest' and 'focus' without being a stimulant.  It's 5ht1a activity is what makes it behave as a sedative I believe, but once 5ht1a activity is downregulated serotonin globally rises since 5ht1as role is to decrease neurotransmitter levels similar to gaba.

I have been taking bacopa at night and during the day lately, but in larger doses at night.  It definitely helps me sleep and seems to immerse me in my dreams when taken at night.  I think by taking bacopa at night it will slow down my hyperactive brain, letting me sleep, and enhancing my awake state by rebound effect in the morning.  Low doses during the day seem doable currently and as long as the dose is kept to 500 mg or so it doesn't interfere with the effects of the more stimulating herbs.
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plantmind

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Im a fan of bacopa and mucuna so this is great to know, thanks! Can anybody tell me what the differences are in composition betweeen the stems and the leaf of the plant? Or even anecdotally. Personally I find the leaf to be a more focused and uplifting effect. The same core essence of bacopa, but something I can actually use in the morning. I'm curious if this is a common conclusion.
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akosi

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Well to be more specific, if my research is correct, NMDA antagonism prevents dopaminergic substance tolerance by way of sensitizing the D2 receptor, the dopamine receptor responsible for decreasing dopamine levels, as well as decreasing prolactin, a compound that may be elevated in those who take dopaminergics. 

The effects of bacopa are very antidopaminergic in many ways, both NMDA antagonism and 5ht1a agonism decrease DA levels, so I don't really like it with mucuna, however it certainly will mitigate if not downright prevent near all of the side effects that mucuna can cause in mild to moderate doses and regimens.

I have never had a chance to try the leaf itself, however I have seen bacopa sold as "bacopa leaf" by a few vendors.  However upon examination of the cut herb, it is almost always the stems with a tiny bit of leaf.  I cannot imagine the powder has a different ratio of leaf to stem, so unfortunately I cannot provide any first hand advice.  If you still have some pure bacopa leaves I would love to trade for them however!
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