Clinical Use

Brahmi has not been significantly investigated in clinical studies, so information is generally derived from in vitro and animal studies and traditional evidence, and is still largely speculative.

Clinical note — Scientific investigation of Ayurvedic medicines in India

Modern-day interest in many Ayurvedic herbs, such as brahmi, really started in 1951 when the then Prime Minister of India set up the Central Drug Research centre in Lucknow. The goal of this initiative was to encourage scientists to investigate many of the traditional Ayurvedic herbs in a scientific way, and to determine their potential as contemporary drugs or as potential sources for newer drugs.

IMPROVING COGNITIVE FUNCTION — LEARNING, MEMORY, INTELLIGENCE

In Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa is used to improve cognitive function and increase intelligence. Over time it has developed an excellent reputation, prompting scientific researchers to investigate the activity of bacopa more closely.

To date, results from animal studies are encouraging. Oral administration of brahmi extract (40 mg/kg) for at least 3 days produced positive effects on learning skills, memory and reaction times compared with controls in one learning model (Singh & Dhawan 1982). Another study found that bacopa extract significantly reversed the cognitive impairment induced by the antiepileptic drug phenytoin, without affecting its anticonvulsant activity (Vohora et al 2000). More recent animal studies have shown that bacopa attenuates scopolamine-induced dementia and significantly inhibits acetylcholinesterase activity in vitro (Das et al 2002). Studies indicate that bacosides A and B present in the ethanolic extract are responsible for the cognition facilitating effects (Russo 2005).

Clinical studies have generally produced encouraging results. A double-blind placebo-controlled trial using a dose of 300 mg bacopa over 12 weeks in 46 healthy volunteers found that it significantly improved the speed of visual information processing, learning rate and memory consolidation and that it has a significant anxiolytic effect (Stough et al 2001). Another study of the same design tested brahmi in 76 adults over 3 months (Roodenrys et al 2002); significant improvements in a test for new information retention was observed, but there were no changes in the rate of learning. Results from a double-blind placebo-controlled trial involving 38 healthy subjects suggest that cognitive activator effects may require long-term use and are not evident after single-dose administration (Nathan etal 2001). However, results from a double-blind, placebo-controlled study using a product (Blackmore's Ginkgo Brahmi) containing both Bacopa monniera (300 mg) and Ginkgo biloba (120 mg) in

healthy subjects failed to show any significant differences in memory, attention, comprehension, learning or motor responsiveness after 4 weeks (Nathan et al 2004).

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