Alzheimer’s disease is an irreversible progressive brain disorder that slowly destroys memory and thinking skills, and eventually the ability to carry out the simplest tasks. Alzheimer’s disease(AD) the most common form of dementia and causes about 60–70% of the cases. (1,2) In India From the time of ancient day to modern days Bacopa Monnieri has been used for enhancing memory, cognition, mood and other mental disorder. Here our aim to find out the Benefits of Nootropic Bacopa Monnieri for Alzheimer’s to boost brain health and function as well as safety concern.
Benefits of Nootropic Bacopa Monnieri for Alzheimer’s to boost brain health and function
Although pathway of development of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is yet to be completely understood, there are 3 possible mechanisms. That includes deposition of Amyloid Beta (Aβ) proteins, deposition of tau (τ) proteins in neurons, and neuronal deterioration due to above two components. (3)
Bacopa Monnieri has showing numbers of major beneficial effects in Neuroprotection as well as brain health and functions. Major therapeutic actions of Bacopa Monnieri includes antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, brain calming, cardiotonic, bronchi dilation, and also peptic ulcer protection. Bacopa has also health beneficial properties like cholinergic, anti-beta amyloid property. (4) The entire plant as well as the root has contains therapeutic value. Bacoside is the mostly used Bacopa Monnieri extract for neuroprotective activity. (5)
Antioxidant, anti inflammatory and Iron Chelating Properties of Brahmi in neuroprotection
Free radicals and oxidative stress damages are most important factors in aging as well as age related disorders including illness to the brain.
The Bacopa Monnieri extract(BmE) contained polyphenols and sulfhydryl contents that have antioxidant, free radical scavenging effect. BmE showed significant iron chelating property, reduced free radicals induced oxidative damage as well as decreased lipid oxidation in brain. BmE also showed protective against free radical and DNA damage to connective tissue cells (fibroblasts). Apart from these studies demonstrated anti-stress activity of BmE. BmE and bacoside A also showed as a preventive measure in narrowing artery, cigarette exposure, and aluminum toxicity. The main role of BmE as an antioxidant appears as its effect on increasing glutathione concentration as well as other enzymatic antioxidants. Bacoside intake improved the antioxidant status and maintained the levels of trace minerals.(6,7, 12) The human body forms glutathione as the most important and potent antioxidant. I will come later about it.
Chronic inflammation is one leading factor of the most the chronic diseases. Bacopa inhibits enzymes associated with inflammation in the brain and thus lowers inflammation in the central nervous system. (8)
Hence, Bacopa Monnieri intake may act as a remedy for age-associated memory and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s disease.
The cholinergic system of neurons has been a major focus of research in aging and neural degradation, specifically as it relates to Alzheimer’s Disease.(9) Nerve cell cholinergic neuron mainly uses the neurotransmitter acetylcholine (ACh) to send messages that involves in both memory as well as learning. A very characteristic finding in AD include loss of cholinergic neurons from basal forebrain a brain structure located at forebrain. In previous article we talked about AChE or acetylcholine esterase, an enzyme that initiates the breakdown of acetylcholine as well as some other choline esters that function as neurotransmitters. Study demonstrated that B. monnieri suppresses AChE activity and thus resulting in enhanced cholinergic function. Experiment demonstrated that daily intake of BmE protected the cholinergic neurons.(7)
A twelve week observation study with 300 and 600 mg of Bacopa Monnieri extract on 60 healthy elders was done. Researchers found that BmE can improve attention, cognitive processing, and working memory partly via the suppression of AChE activity.(17)
Amyloid Beta (Aβ) proteins
The most important mechanism of development in AD includes deposition of Aβ protein in the brain tissue causing neuronal loss. A study done by Mathew et. al. revealed that BmE decreased the formation of amyloid protein almost entirely. And that also segregated the pre-formed amyloid protein up to a considerable extent.(10)
Limpeanchob et al. demonstrated that BmE protected neurons from beta-amyloid-induced cell death. They had found neurons treated with Aβ protein exhibited rise in acetylcholine esterase concentration. Acetylcholine esterase catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine neurotransmitter. While those treated with Bacopa Monnieri had near normal concentration of acetylcholine esterase. They also observed BmE had reduced free radicals in the cell which in turn also enhanced the lifespan of the neurons. (11)
Memory and Cognitive
Deficit in memory and cognitive impairments are two common symptoms of AD. In earlier article we have discussed about role of bacopa in memory along with findings of RCTs as well as mechanism. You can also read more about these here.
In a randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled trial of 36 children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, improvement in logical memory was demonstrated.(13)
In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial conducted in Australia on 81 subjects aged above 55 years were given BmE in a dose of 300 mg/day for 12 weeks. They also observed remarkable improvement in verbal learning, memory acquisition, as well as delayed recall.(14)
A meta-analysis suggests that Bacopa Monnieri(BM) has the potential to improve cognition, particularly speed of attention.(15) Systematic Overview conducted by Kean JD et. al. also concluded that review extends research supporting B. monnieri as a cognitive enhancer. They observed BM herbal formula provides modest evidence for improving cognitive and behavioral outcomes in child and adolescent.(16)
Cerebral Blood Flow
Vascular factors like narrow blood vessels, decreased vascular density, and cerebral passage also have been linked to AD. In vitro Bacopa Monnieri decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure without significantly affecting heart rate. Study indicates bacopa improved blood flow action through nitric oxide synthesis. In animal study bacopa increased cerebral blood flow. (7, 18) However we yet to have major study in this regard.
Although long term study is not available Bacopa monnieri appears to exhibit low toxicity in humans.(5) A systematic review highlights the safe use of Bacopa monnieri in child and adolescent populations.(19) Also numbers of studies were done in child and adolescent as well as older people. In animal study bacopa had shown anti-fertility potential however same has not been evaluated with human.(20)As Bacopa has not been tested on pregnant women, pregnant women should avoid bacopa.
Bacopa Monnieri extract also appears to protect against ulcers induced by drugs like aspirin, alcohol which may be due to its effect on mucosal defensive factors. (21) A dose of 1000 microg/ml Bacopa Monnieri had also showed anti-Helicobacter pylori activity in vitro.(22) Bacopa Monnieri had shown some healing effect in stomach lining in animal model. (23)
In present 300mg-450mg per day of Bacopa extract is used. Which can be also divided into two parts. Bacopa has a bitter taste. As it is a small herb you can grow even in a pot. Higher dose may also cause stomach upset. Due to fat soluble properties you can add fat like ghee(clarified butter) or butter with it. Also bacopa goes well with green tea, Aswagandha, Turmeric or curcumin and herb Milk thisle. That helps to slow down aging process as well as give protection from age related disorders. Also remember if you choose supplementation always check bacoside percentage.
Disclaimer: Information provided here are generalized information for
educational purpose only, not intended to provide one to one health
consultation or replace practice of a qualified practitioner. Different
people may have different health condition and may have different reaction
to the same food. Hence it has been advised to consult with health care
provider before application of any of above guidelines.
Source and References:
1. Alzheimer's Disease Fact Sheet, National Institute of Aging,
2. Dementia, World Health Organization
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