Bacopa monnieri, also known as brahmi or water hyssop, is a perennial creeper found in marshy areas throughout Asia. It is considered to be a nerve and brain tonic in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine and is used to treat epilepsy, sexual dysfunction and fertility problems. Recent research reported in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine indicates that bacopa may be helpful in treating memory problems and depression in the elderly.
There is one case reported in the Annals of Hepatology, of a woman stricken with severe liver toxicity after treating herself for nine months with several Ayurvedic herbs, including bacopa monnieri. The symptoms disappeared after she stopped taking the herbs.
Bacopa monnieri may affect male fertility. According to a recent animal study in Contraception, bacopa suppressed fertility in male mice.
Bacopa monnieri contains hersaponin, a powerful spasmodic that enhances the transmission of nerve impulses and stimulates reflexes in the digestive tract. According to a 2006 study at Southern Cross University, the hersaponin in bacopa caused gastrointestinal problems including increased stool frequency, abdominal cramps and nausea.
According to a 2001 study in Psychopharmacology, dry mouth, excessive thirst and increased frequency of urination were reported.
Bacopa monnieri is a central nervous system depressant with anti-anxiety and sedative effects. It can have a barbituate-like effect depending on the dose.
Bacopa monnieri can cause heart palpitations. Check with your doctor before taking this herb if you have heart problems.
Do not take Bacopa monnieri if you're taking any antidepressant or antipsychotic medication that is metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes, such as Sertraline hydrochloride (trade names Zoloft and Lustral). Bacopa can affect the way these medications are metabolized and eliminated from the body, thereby allowing too much or too little of the drug to enter the blood. There may be danger of underdose or overdose.
Do not take bacopa monnieri if you are taking thyroid medication as bacopa can enhance drugs that stimulate the thyroid, and can inhibit drugs that suppress the thyroid.
Check with your doctor before taking Bacopa monnieri if you are taking calcium blocking drugs, as bacopa may enhance their effect.
Bacopa monnieri may enhance the effect of sedatives, benzodiazepines and antidepressants. Check with your doctor before taking bacopa if you are taking these drugs. Do not drive or operate machinery when taking bacopa.
Do not take bacopa monnieri if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
Check with your doctor before giving bacopa monnieri to children.