Ayurvedic herbs are a branch of nootropics that may target brain chemicals and other brain mechanisms related to memory, learning, and mood.
People in India have been using Ayurvedic substances to enhance cognitive performance for thousands of years, and modern research is now validating much of that ancient knowledge.
Today, Ayurveda is still a popular holistic practice for mental well-being and preventive health using natural systems, and nootropics in India remain an important part of this integral practice.
History of Ayurveda
Ayurveda is a holistic healing system based on a philosophy of balance and aimed at enhancing mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual health.<1>
Ayurvedic herbal practices began over five thousand years ago in India’s Himalayan Mountains. Scholars believe Ayurvedic health practices likely predate any other healing tradition still in use, including Chinese herbalism.
Legend describes a fateful meeting held in a Himalayan cave, where the wisest healers of India gathered to present their regional knowledge of various native health-promoting herbs. The great healers combined their individual knowledge of local plant benefits into one system, calling it Ayurveda.
Ayurveda stems from the Sanskrit words Ayus, meaning life and Veda, knowledge. Together, Ayurveda translates to "the knowledge of life," or "the science of life."
But word of India’s therapeutic plants had spread to other continents even before that historic meeting:
- Tombs of some Egyptian pharaohs contained seeds from Indian plants.
- Ancient Arabs traded for Indian herbs before Islam was created.
- Information about the health benefits of Indian plants spread throughout Tibet and China.
- The Queen of Sheba is believed to have introduced Indian herbs and spices to the Israelites.
Ayurveda masters passed on their knowledge and practices to students through oral tradition for over a thousand years, and Ayurvedic practices expanded as new generations of healers added more insight and experience to traditional formulas.
Finally, an Ayurvedic physician named Charaka documented the system and its uses in writing sometime during the first century A.D.
More than a highly developed branch of folk medicine, Ayurveda is based on a complex philosophical foundation that emphasizes responsibility for self-care and living in harmony with both one's inner self and the external universe.
Ayurvedic practitioners teach that we must learn to control our destructive (and self-destructive) nature in order to avoid illness and pain. Living in harmony with the surrounding environment is believed essential to mental, physical, and spiritual well-being.
Ayurvedic health promotes prevention over remedy, ideally seeking to boost natural physical mechanisms to the point they can outperform even the best medicine.
Ayurvedic tradition has provided modern herbalists with many synergistic herbal formulas based on centuries of accumulated knowledge.
Nootropics in India
Ayurveda places as much importance on mental wellness as physical health and has long targeted memory, learning, focus, and other cognitive functions that can become disrupted by illness or aging.
Ancient Ayurvedic formulas describe numerous plants and plant extracts used for a wide range of mental disorders which are common today, including depression, memory loss, anxiety, insomnia, dementia, and other neurological disorders.
The Importance of Mental Nutrition
Optimal mental performance requires prime nutritional balance for consistent physiological support across many areas of brain health.
Ayurvedic plants and other nootropic sources provide the brain with vital nourishment and energy to help protect and restore brain cells, support neural communication, and protect cognitive function.
Manjari Chandra, senior nutrition consultant at Max Multi Speciality Centre in India, defines nootropics:
“As per clinical definition, for any substance to be called a nootropic, it must a) enhance memory and learning ability, b) help the brain function under disruptive conditions, c) protect the brain from harmful chemical damage, d) improve neuronal firing mechanisms, and e) lack any sedative, stimulant or toxic effects.”
Just like the body, the brain improves with proper nutrition and exercise. When ayurvedic philosophy meets nootropic supplementation, the brain gets happy.
Modern nootropics in India supply the mental nutrition needed for optimal mental performance in any setting.
Availability of Nootropics in India
Although people in India have used herbal formulas for millenia, newer, even more effective nootropic formulas are rapidly gaining popularity among the country's booming technology sector and expanding student population.
But even as the demand for nootropics is rising, some nootropic formulas and brands may not be available for purchase in India.
Mind Lab Pro® provides the world's safest, most well-researched nootropics. All 11 Mind Lab Pro® ingredients are backed by evidence that supports their ability to promote brain health, and all are legal nootropics in every country around the world, including India.
Mind Lab Pro® is one of the best over-the-counter options for nootropics in India. For online shopping convenience, Mind Lab Pro® ships to India and many other countries across the planet.
Bacopa Monnieri is a Medhya Rasayana used for centuries to slow memory decline, reduce inflammation and diminish pain. An aquatic perennial, creeping herb native to the marshy wetlands of southern and eastern India, it produces small white flowers with four or five petals.
Medhya Rasayanas are a group of ayurvedic medicinal plants used to enhance memory, boost mental function, and improve intellect.<2> Ayurvedic formulas may include the entire plant or parts of the plant, which may be used singly or in various combinations.
Commonly called Brahmi (in reference to the Hindu creator god Brahmā), Bacopa Monnieri is also called water hyssop, thyme-leafed gratiola, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort.
The name Brahmi is used for two very different Ayurvedic herbs found in two different regions of India. Bacopa Monnieri is called Brahmi in southern India, while Centella asiatica is called Brahmi (Gotu Kola) in northern India.
Bacopa is a popular nootropic common to many pre-formulated stacks. It is valued for its ability to repair damaged neurons, facilitate neural communication and protect neurons from chemical damage.
Bacopa may also act as a potent adaptogen, helping to normalize the brain’s response to acute and chronic stress.
- Studies show b. monnieri supplementation appears to moderate certain stress hormones in the brain, priming the brain for clear, quick thinking during stressful situations.<3>
Bacopa may help boost the efficacy of key neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, acetylcholine, and noradrenaline, helping to calm nervous mental chatter and sustain mood equilibrium.
Imbalance in any of these neurotransmitter levels may contribute to anxiety and depression and may play a role in the development of some mood disorders.
Bacopa can regulate neurotransmitter levels to brighten mood and reduce anxiety in many situations. And a positive mood can lead to better overall cognitive function.
Bacopa Monnieri’s main active ingredients are steroidal saponins called bacosides. These bacosides are antioxidants that reinforce other antioxidants, including the neuroprotective enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx).
Bacopa may protect neurons against:
- Oxidative stress
- Lipid peroxidation
- Cell death
Its antioxidant activity can also combat the effects of neurotoxins such as:
- Cigarette smoke
Plus, it may counteract irregular protein clusters in the brain associated with neural degeneration.<4>
These antioxidant and neuroprotective benefits may support various aspects of mental performance, including better memory and cognition.
Bacopa Monnieri may help regulate acetylcholine, an brain chemical important for memory, quick mental processing, and overall long-term brain health. Animal research suggests Bacopa’s acetylcholine support may improve memory and learning.<5>
Bacopa also promotes GABA and serotonin production, helping with mood support – a cognitive function closely linked to memory and learning.
How Bacopa Monnieri Works in the Brain
Bacopa Monnieri supports mood, memory, and other cognitive functions through diverse cellular mechanisms. In vitro and animal studies suggest a number of potential cognitive mechanisms.
Cerebral Blood Flow
Several studies show that Bacopa is a good overall neuroprotective – protecting neurons from oxidative stress, lipid peroxidation, and cell death.<6>
Some of bacopa’s neuroprotective and memory-restoring effects may be due to the ability of bacosides to induce vasodilatation (widening of blood vessels).
Vasodilatation of cerebral blood vessels may improve cerebral blood flow, brain oxygen and glucose for heightened nerve cell support, enhanced neuronal activity and sustained cognitive function under stress or injury.
- In a rat model of ischemic stroke, Bacopa Monnieri reduced the infarct size, protected memory function, and preserved cell activity by reducing lipid peroxidation.<7>
In other studies, Bacopa Monnieri appears to amplify neuronal activity and synaptic signaling.
Animal studies show bacopa supplementation stimulates the release of neurotransmitters serotonin, acetylcholine, GABA, and glutamate into the hippocampus – the brain region responsible for long-term memory and mood regulation.
- Higher levels of serotonin may promote information encoding (memory formation) by facilitating cholinergic synaptic transmission.
The diversity of neurotransmitters involved suggests Bacopa Monnieri increases neuronal activity rather than directly impeding neurotransmitter reuptake or enzymatic degradation.<8>
Bacopa Monnieri contains twelve major bacosides, and each bacoside contains a combination of bacosapides and bacosaponins. Bacoside A is the most commonly studied bacoside, with most studies using whole plant extracts.
Bacosides are a type of carbohydrate that gets broken down by the digestive system as a simple carbohydrate. Bacosides are upregulated through biosynthetic pathways and work via mechanisms similar to a GABA agonist.
Unlike benzodiazepines, a well-known GABA agonist that often impairs memory, Bacopa helps protect memory and preserve other cognitive functions.
Traditional Ayurvedic medicine used Bacopa Monnieri to solve a wide range of cognitive and physiological problems. Now science is discovering the working mechanisms behind Bacopa’s efficacy.
Many studies have looked at Bacopa Monnieri in terms of memory enhancement. And while most research has examined bacopa’s effects on memory and cognition in older adults, some studies sugggest it can be effective in treating brain-related conditions in younger people as well.
Clinical evidence shows that Bacopa may improve memory during cognitive decline by blocking damage to cortical neurons in both hemispheres of the cerebral cortex – the brain’s largest area.
Although more clinical testing is needed to positively define its role in memory preservation, one review concluded that “Bacopa could potentially be clinically prescribed as a memory enhancer” even in normal subjects.
In one analysis, Bacopa Monnieri improved 9 out of 17 free recall memory tasks. Another study showed improved memory span with Bacopa, and a third study also showed that Bacopa Monnieri reduces the rate of forgetting.
A 2013 review of the neuropharmacological findings on Bacopa Monnieri, concluded,
demonstrates immense potential in the amelioration of cognitive disorders, as well as prophylactic reduction of oxidative damage, NT modulation, and cognitive enhancement in healthy people.”
Other research suggests Bacopa may benefit more areas of cognitive function than just memory. Some studies show Bacopa Monnieri may also help optimize higher-order cognitive processes like learning.<9><10>
A pharmacological review of 59 research studies indicates that Bacopa may benefit multiple cognitive areas:
- Learning – Animal research showed Bacopa improved motor learning, acquisition, and retention in mice.
- Depression – Bacopa Monnieri extract exhibited antidepressant activity in animal models.
- Anxiety – Studies show Bacopa can normalize cortisol and noradrenaline under acute and chronic stress.
- Antioxidant – Studies show Bacopa exerts numerous antioxidant effects through multiple mechanisms.
- Anti-inflammatory – Bacopa can inhibit inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines.
- Anticonvulsant – Several studies showed Bacopa Monnieri extract possesses anticonvulsive action by providing neuroprotection in glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity, protecting against dopaminergic neurodegeneration, and restoring lipid content in nematodes.
Mind Lab Pro® Bacopa Monnieri
Bacopa Monnieri is best known for its ability to enhance memory and learning ability, but as a traditional Ayurvedic nootropic it is prized for its versatile brain support.
Beyond memory and learning, Bacopa supports mood, mental clarity and long-term brain health for everyone – a perfect fit for Mind Lab Pro®’s Universal Nootropic™ strategy.
Lower quality Bacopa Monnieri extracts may not preserve all of the herb’s beneficial nootropic compounds, or they may use inferior testing methods that may not accurately represent the product’s true potency.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies 150 mg of Bacopa Monnieri in a full-spectrum extract containing a minimum of 24% bacoside content – including nine of the bioactives most strongly associated with nootropic activity:
- Bacoside – A
- Bacoside – I
- Bacoside – II
- Bacopasaponin C
- Jujubogenin isomer of Bacopasaponin C
Mind Lab Pro®’s Bacopa Monnieri extract supports whole brain health for neural protection now and in the future by:
- Stimulating and regenerating other antioxidants for neural defense against free radicals and other harmful chemicals
- Normalizes acetylcholine, GABA and serotonin brain chemicals for a calm, happy mind
- Working as an adaptogen to reduce anxiety and improve stress response
Bacopa Monnieri has been used for centuries to enhance higher-order cognitive processes and optimize mental performance by:
- Protecting long-term memory, improving learning rate and preserving the retention of new knowledge
- Boosting visual information processing speed
- Helping to balance mood and defend cognition against stress
Bacopa Monnieri is one of the best nootropics for students and anyone seeking reliable learning support.
Mind Lab Pro® combines Bacopa, the best natural nootropic in India, with other herbs and nootropics from around the world to create the best overall stack available everywhere.
More on Mind Lab Pro® nootropics
Bacopa Monnieri + Rhodiola Rosea
Bacopa Monnieri and Rhodiola Rosea are both popular ayurvedic herbs and adaptogens that protect the brain, support homeostasis and boost performance under stress.
These adaptogenic activities complement each other to:<12>
- Enhance memory
- Reduce anxiety
- Improve stress resistance
- Provide mental alertness
- Prolong brain energy
- Promote physical endurance
Where Bacopa Monnieri is calming, Rhodiola Rosea is energizing. And while Bacopa’s benefits are mostly mental, Rhodiola also helps with physical performance.
Both the similar and contrasting bioactivities of Bacopa Monnieri + Rhodiola Rosea make them an appealing combination. What one lacks, the other provides. Together, this mini-stack energizes body and mind, protects against stress, enhances cognitive performance, and supports a bright mood.
Bacopa Monnieri + Lion’s Mane
Lion’s Mane Mushroom has been used in Chinese herbalism for thousands of years – nearly as long as Ayurvedic herbalism.
While Bacopa Monnieri supports all aspects of memory and some learning functions, Lion’s Mane supports Bacopa’s mechanisms with its own complementary bioactivities.
Lion’s Mane Mushroom is most notable for its ability to boost nerve growth factor (NGF). Nerve growth factor helps:
- Improve brain plasticity
- Enhance memory storage
- Regenerate brain cell membranes
Together, Bacopa Monnieri and Lion’s Mane Mushroom provide even more brain protection from age-related cognitive decline than either one can on its own.
And although more research is needed, some evidence suggests Lion’s Mane Mushroom may also add mood support and help with focus and attention.
Bacopa Monnieri + L-Theanine
Drinking green tea is one of the oldest herbal traditions in world, predating Ayurvedic or Chinese herbalism.
L-Theanine is the active nootropic in green tea, and it works by inducing alpha brain wave activity - a mental state that promotes wakeful relaxation, creativity, and calm mental clarity.
L-Theanine complements just about any stack. While drinking green tea is considered a healthy way to get l-theanine, it also contains caffeine and antioxidants, and you would have to drink an absurdly large cup of tea to reap the same benefits you can get from a high quality l-theanine supplement.
Mind Lab Pro® supplies 100 mg of L-Theanine as premium Suntheanine® - equal to 10 cups of green tea.
Mind Lab Pro® pairs Bacopa Monnieri with Rhodiola Rosea, Lion’s Mane Mushroom and L-Theanine as part of an 11-ingredient nootropic stack designed to promote 100% Brainpower™.
Mind Lab Pro®’s patented formula combines an optimal dosage of active, high-quality Bacopa Monnieri extract with 10 other complementary, bioavailable herbs and supplements in a Universal Nootropic™ stack that provides brain protection and a full range of cognitive support for everyone across the world.
- What is Ayurveda? National Ayurvedic Medical Association. Accessed 12 Feb 2019.
- Kulkarni R, Girish KJ, Kumar A. Nootropic herbs (Medhya Rasayana) in Ayurveda: An update. Pharmacogn Rev. 2012 Jul-Dec; 6(12): 147–153. doi: 10.4103/0973-7847.99949
- Chowdhuri DK, et al. Antistress effects of bacosides of Bacopa Monnieri: modulation of Hsp70 expression, superoxide dismutase and cytochrome P450 activity in rat brain. Phytother Res. 2002 Nov;16(7):639-45.
- Dhanasekaran M, et al. Neuroprotective mechanisms of ayurvedic antidementia botanical Bacopa monniera. Phytother Res. 2007 Oct;21(10):965-9.
- Joshi H, Parle M. Brahmi rasayana improves learning and memory in mice. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2006 Mar;3(1):79-85. Epub 2006 Jan 16.
- Velaga MJ, et al. Ameliorative effects of Bacopa monniera on lead-induced oxidative stress in different regions of rat brain. Drug and Chemical Toxicology. Volume 37, 2014, Issue 3. Pages 357-364. 11 Nov 2013. doi:10.3109/01480545.2013.866137
- Saraf MK, Prabhakar S, Anand A. Neuroprotective effect of Bacopa monniera on ischemia induced brain injury. Pharmacol Biochem Behav. 2010 Dec;97(2):192-7. doi: 10.1016/j.pbb.2010.07.017.
- Pitt J, Leung. Cognitive Effects of Nutraceuticals. Nutraceuticals: Efficacy, Safety and Toxicity. 2016. Pages 29-48. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-802147-7.00003-6
- Stough C, et al.The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects.Psychopharmacology (Berl). 2001 Aug;156(4):481-4.
- Roodenrys S, et al. Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri) on human memory. Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Aug;27(2):279-81
- Bhattacharya SK, Ghosal S. Anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract of Bacopa monniera—an experimental study. Phytomedicine1998;5:77-82
- Panossian A, Wagner H. Stimulating effect of adaptogens: an overview with particular reference to their efficacy following single dose administration.Phytother Res.2005;19(10):819–38.