Top Benefits of Bacopa

Bacopa is an herb in the figwort family used in Ayurvedic medicine. Ayurveda is a traditional Indian medical system.

Bacopa's scientific name is Bacopa monnieri (B. monnieri). It's also commonly called brahmi, but it's not the same as another type of brahmi called gotu kola.

Bacopa may have potential nootropic effects. This means that bacopa might support brain health, such as memory.

Bacopa has several plant chemicals, like saponins, which may include bacosides A and B. These plant substances are likely responsible for how bacopa works.

This article will cover more on what you should know about bacopa—its potential uses, side effects, and interactions.

Bacopa monnieri

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Dietary supplements are not regulated the way drugs are in the United States, meaning the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not approve them for safety and effectiveness before products are marketed. When possible, choose a supplement tested by a trusted third party, such as U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP),, or NSF International.

However, even if supplements are third-party tested, they are not necessarily safe for all or effective in general. Therefore, talking to a healthcare provider about any supplements you plan to take and checking in about potential interactions with other supplements or medications is important.

Supplement Facts

  • Active ingredients (s): Bacopa, containing many active plant chemicals—like the saponins, which may include bacosides A and B
  • Alternative name(s): Bacopa, Bacopa monnieri, B. monnieri, b brahm
  • Legal status: Legal in most U.S. states
  • Suggested dose: May vary based on the specific dosage form and medical condition
  • Safety considerations: Possible side effects and medication interactions, as well as considerations regarding its use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding

Uses of Bacopa

Supplement use should be individualized and vetted by a healthcare professional, such as a registered dietitian, pharmacist, or healthcare provider. No supplement is intended to treat, cure, or prevent disease.

As with many natural products, more, extensive research is necessary. But people might use bacopa for various reasons.

Memory and Attention

In a meta-analysis (a review of a collection of studies) of bacopa's potential use for memory and attention in healthy people.

In general, the results did not support bacopa's use for this purpose. According to this study, bacopa might help with logical and verbal memory. Logical memory is your ability to assign meaning to something you learned. Verbal memory is your ability to pay attention, collect information in an organized way, process the information, store the information, and recall the information on demand.

While bacopa may affect these two types of memory in positive ways, these results have been invalidated due to a high likelihood of publication bias. More extensive and better-designed clinical trials are necessary.

Mild Memory Problems

According to a study, bacopa helped people with mild memory problems. But in this clinical trial, bacopa was part of an herbal mixture.

Future high-quality studies are likely necessary to better evaluate` the effects of each active ingredient in the herbal mixture, including bacopa.

Alzheimer's Disease

In a six-month study party of the aforementioned meta-analysis, people with Alzheimer's disease (AD) benefited from 600 milligrams (mg) of bacopa daily.

While this might sound promising, this study was small. Moreover, bacopa wasn't compared to a placebo (a substance with no medicine) or a standard treatment. For these reasons, additional better-designed research with more extensive and longer-term clinical trials is still necessary. These future studies could also compare bacopa to standard AD treatment, such as Aricept (donepezil).

According to another clinical trial, results suggest that bacopa may also help people with AD. But in this 12-month study, bacopa was combined with other herbs.

While it's difficult to know if bacopa is directly responsible for the results, the herbal mixture was similar to Aricept in terms of effects in people with AD. And in people without AD, the combination of herbs also seemed to help these participants on brain function exams compared to a placebo.

In the group of participants taking the herbal mixture, fewer markers or substances in the blood point to inflammation (swelling) and oxidative stress. In general, oxidative stress is when there aren't enough naturally occurring antioxidants in your body to attack unstable atoms known as free radicals. Free radicals can damage things—like deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA).

Although these results were positive, additional high-quality and extensive research is still necessary. These future clinical trials should also assess the effects of each component (ingredient) in the herbal mixture.


In a meta-analysis, study results were mixed on whether bacopa—by itself—relieves depression or anxiety symptoms compared to placebo. Interestingly, in one clinical trial, bacopa was linked to some improvement in anhedonia compared to the Celexa (citalopram) antidepressant. Anhedonia is the inability to find pleasure in things you used to enjoy. This is a common symptom of depression and other brain-related conditions.

When bacopa was combined with other herbs, on the other hand, results from a couple of studies suggest that the herbal mixtures may relieve symptoms of depression and stress. And depression symptoms seem to improve in both people with and without AD.

Future clinical trials must consistently use the same tests to study these mental health conditions. This will allow for better analysis and interpretation of the results, leading to a better understanding of bacopa's effects.

What Are the Side Effects of Bacopa?

 Like many medications and natural products, side effects are possible with bacopa.

Common Side Effects

Common side effects may include:

Severe Side Effects

In general, there is little information on the safety of bacopa. But referring to a meta-analysis, many studies didn't seem to mention any serious side effects.

However, potential severe side effects may include:

Severe allergic reaction: A severe allergic reaction can occur with any medication. Symptoms may include breathing difficulties, swollen airways, itchiness, and rash.

Metal toxicity: According to the NCCIH, some Ayurvedic products may have toxic metals, such as lead and mercury. The NCCIH referred to a survey that showed high blood levels of lead in 40% of people using Ayurvedic products—with some also having high levels of mercury. Moreover, this survey showed that nearly 25% of Ayurvedic products tested high for lead, and roughly 50% tested high for mercury.

Arsenic poisoning: While rare, according to the NCCIH, arsenic poisoning is possible with Ayurvedic products.

Call 911 and get medical help immediately if you're having a severe allergic reaction or any of your symptoms feel life-threatening.


A healthcare provider may advise against using bacopa if any of the following applies to you:

Severe allergic reaction: If you have a severe allergic reaction to bacopa or its components (ingredients or parts), you shouldn't take this medication.

Pregnancy or breastfeeding: There are likely no bacopa product labels that target pregnant or breastfeeding parents. What's more, there is little information about the effects and safety of bacopa while pregnant or breastfeeding. For this reason, contact a healthcare provider to discuss the benefits and risks before taking bacopa.

Children: There are likely no bacopa infant products, but a few products for children do exist. In studies containing children and teenagers, bacopa, when combined with other herbs, caused few or no side effects in these groups. If there were side effects, they were mild and temporary.

However, Ayurvedic products may have high levels of toxic substances in general. And since more information is necessary on safety in children, consider scheduling a a conversation with a healthcare provider if you're considering bacopa for your child.

Adults over age 65: While older adults participated in some bacopa-related clinical trials, additional, extensive research is necessary. Since some older adults may have a higher likelihood of medication side effects, bacopa should be used with caution in this population.

Dosage: How Much Should I Take Bacopa?

Always speak with a healthcare provider before taking a supplement to ensure that the supplement and dosage are appropriate for your individual needs.

While there are some studies on bacopa in humans, more high-quality clinical trials are still necessary. For this reason, there are no guidelines on the appropriate dosage to take bacopa for any condition.

If you take bacopa, follow a healthcare provider's recommendations and the label instructions.

What Happens If I Take Too Much Bacopa?

There is little information about bacopa toxicity and overdose in humans. Smptoms of overdose with bacopa would likely be similar to its potential common and serious side effects, but more severe. Since some Ayurvedic products have been found to contain high levels of toxic substances, poisoning from these substances is also possible.

If you suspect you're experiencing life-threatening side effects, seek immediate medical attention.


There is limited information about possible medication interactions with bacopa. Most data are based on bacopa's potential uses. Use caution when taking bacopa with the following:

Alzheimer's disease (AD) medications: Bacopa may affect memory and brain function. For this reason, bacopa might interact with other medicines that affect memory and brain function, including Aricept (donepezil).

Anticholinergic medications: Acetylcholine is a naturally occurring substance in your body. In people with AD, there is a low level of acetylcholine. When taken with anticholinergic drugs, bacopa can cause an even greater reduction.

Anticholinergic medications—like Ditropan XL (oxybutynin) for overactive bladder (OAB)—might worsen this problem and work against AD medications. Since bacopa may help improve AD symptoms, anticholinergic medications might also work against bacopa.

Anti-inflammatory medications: Bacopa can impact inflammation. For this reason, bacopa might interact with other medicines that affect inflammation. For example, bacopa might have additive effects (problems caused from combining the medications) with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), such as Advil (ibuprofen).

Mood medications: Bacopa has had mood effects. For this reason, bacopa might have additive effects when combined with other mood medications, such as antidepressants.

It is essential to carefully read a supplement's ingredients list and nutrition facts panel to learn which ingredients are present and how much of each ingredient is included. Please review this supplement label with your healthcare provider to discuss potential interactions with foods, other supplements, and medications. 

How to Store Bacopa

Since storage instructions may vary for different natural products, carefully read the directions and packaging label on the container. Keep your medications tightly closed and out of the reach and sight of children and pets, ideally locked in a cabinet or closet. Store in a cool and dry place.

Discard after one year or as indicated on the packaging. Avoid putting unused and expired medicines down the drain or in the toilet. Visit the FDA's website to know where and how to discard all unused and expired medicines. You can also find disposal boxes in your area.

Ask a pharmacist or healthcare provider any questions you may have about how to dispose of your medications or supplements.

Similar Supplements

Bacopa may have potential uses for memory, brain function, and depression. So, other potentially similar supplements may include:

Certain vitamins: According to NCCIH, people with Alzheimer's disease might benefit from vitamin E. Vitamin E might allow people with AD to do more things on their own for longer. And long-term use of certain B vitamins may slow down worsening memory problems in older adults. These B vitamins may include pyridoxine (vitamin B6), folic acid (vitamin B9), and cyanocobalamin (vitamin B12).

Omega-3 fatty acids: Based on available data, omega-3 fatty acids from eating more fish may prevent worsening memory problems in older adults. But current evidence for omega-3 fatty acids is inconclusive when its effects on depression.

Saint-John's-wort: Saint-John's-wort might be effective for depression, but it interacts with many medications.

In general, don't combine multiple natural products until you first talk with a healthcare provider or pharmacist. Getting advice can prevent possible drug interactions and side effects and ensure you're giving these supplements a fair trial at appropriate doses.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the most common dosage form of bacopa?

    Bacopa is available in a few different dosage forms—with capsules being the most common.

  • Are there bacopa products from manufacturers in the United States?

    Yes. There are bacopa products made by manufacturers in the United States.

    Remember also to check the bacopa product label to ensure it was tested by a trusted third party, such as USP,, or NSF. It should also state whether the product is certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). Buying organic products can reduce your risk of exposure to harmful substances, such as arsenic.

  • Are bacopa and gotu kola the same?

    While both bacopa and gotu kola are known as brahmi, they are different plants. Bacopa is an herb from the figwort family, and gotu kola is from the parsley family.

  • How do I take bacopa safely?

    In general, to safely take natural products—like bacopa—inform a healthcare provider and pharmacist about any medication changes. This includes over-the-counter (OTC), herbal, natural medications, and supplements.
    They can help prevent possible interactions and side effects. They can also ensure you’re giving bacopa a good trial at appropriate doses.

Sources of Bacopa & What to Look For

There are several different sources of bacopa.

Food Sources of Bacopa

Bacopa is naturally available as an herb. You may also find bacopa in the following items:

  • Biscuits
  • Cereals
  • Drinks, such as tea
  • Jellies
  • Syrups

Bacopa Supplements

Bacopa is available in a few different forms, including capsules and tablets. If you have difficulties swallowing pills, bacopa may also be available in liquid and powder dosage forms.

Vegetarian and vegan options might also be available. You may also see bacopa in combination with other herbs.

Your specific product will depend on your preference and what you hope to get in terms of effects. Each product may work a bit differently, depending on the form. So, following a healthcare provider's recommendations and label directions is important.


Bacopa is an herb from the figwort family. It's used in Ayurvedic medicine, which is a traditional Indian medical system. Bacopa is also sometimes known as brahmi, but it's not the same as gotu kola, which is from the parsley family

In general, it might have some potential use for brain health. But similar to many medications and natural products, side effects and medication interactions are possible.

Additional higher-quality clinical trials are still necessary to better assess the effectiveness and safety of bacopa. Before taking bacopa, be sure to involve a pharmacist or healthcare provider to help you safely achieve your health goals.

12 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. The Department of Defense Dietary Supplement Resource: Operation Supplement Safety. Bacopa monnieri: dietary supplements for brain health.

  3. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Ayurvedic medicine: in depth.

  4. ScienceDirect. Bacopa monnieri.

  5. Rajan KE, Preethi J, Singh HK. Molecular and functional characterization of Bacopa monniera: a retrospective review. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2015;2015:945217. doi: 10.1155%2F2015%2F945217

  6. Brimson JM, Brimson S, Prasanth MI, et al. The effectiveness of Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) Wettst. as a nootropic, neuroprotective, or antidepressant supplement: analysis of the available clinical data. Scientific Reports. 2021;11(596). doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-80045-2

  7. National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Dietary supplement label database.

  8. Kean JD, Downey LA, Stough C. Systematic overview of Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst. dominant poly-herbal formulas in children and adolescents. Medicines (Basel). 2017;4(4):86. doi: 10.3390%2Fmedicines4040086

  9. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. 7 things to know about dietary supplements for cognitive function, dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.

  10. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Mental health.

  11. MedlinePlus. A guide to herbal remedies.

  12. Muchhara J, Vachhani K, Dave S, et al. Safety evaluation of the genotoxicity and subchronic toxicity of standardized bacopa extract (Bacognize) from Bacopa monnieri. Toxicology Research and Application. 2023;7. doi: 10.1177/23978473231162859

By Ross Phan, PharmD, BCACP, BCGP, BCPS
Ross is a writer for Verywell with years of experience practicing pharmacy in various settings. She is also a board-certified clinical pharmacist and the founder of Off Script Consults.