I am always looking for new holistic methods to fight inflammation and aging. This we, I discovered one of the hottest new beauty trends from Bollywood? The discovery includes centuries-old herbal ingredients borrowed from Ayurveda, the ancient Indian method of holistic healing. The Ayurvedic herb of my focus right now is one that’s finding its way into skin and hair care products all over the world. It is called “bacopa monnieri.”
This delicate creeping flower is probably better known for its brain benefits, but bacopa’s potent antioxidant properties have also caught the attention of cosmetic manufacturers for its potential as a skin-saving free radical fighter. Some are even adding bacopa to hair and body treatments, making it a pampering bioactive that can boost beauty from head to toe. While this is interesting, it is not why I’m looking at it.
More about Bacopa
Bacopa is also known as water hyssop or brahmi, grows wild throughout India, where it has been used since at least the sixth century AD as a tonic for the nervous system and heart. This is the part that caught my attention. Packed with phytosterols and flavonoids, bacopa’s real claim to fame is bacopasides – the saponins thought to repair damaged neurons in the brain.
What Bacopa Does
Lab research has shown that bacopa protects against DNA damage in human fibroblasts – cells that form connective tissue. More recently, lab studies suggest that bacopa also encourages apoptosis (cell death) in cancer cells. If future studies support these findings, cosmetic manufacturers may look to bacopa as protection against skin damage, premature wrinkles, and age spots. We will, of course, monitor this closely.
But skin isn’t the only place you will find bacopa’s beauty benefits. Women throughout India have long used bacopa for luxuriously long, shiny hair. Known as brahmi oil, bacopa is infused into either sesame or coconut oil. This light moisturizing oil is applied to the roots of hair and gently massaged into the scalp to stimulate and revitalize it. Brahmi oil is also wonderful in a warm bath or used during massage, especially if you have dry, damaged skin.
Additional Benefits from Bacopa
No one is quite sure how bacopa influences neurological chemistry – and research is still in the early stages — but studies show a clear link between bacopa and the brain.
One recent double-blind trial of 68 healthy participants found that those taking 150 mg of bacopa twice daily for 90 days experienced a significant improvement in their working memory compared to those taking a placebo. In the past week, I have personally spoken with several university students who claim to have used bacopa to give them the mental edge they needed for exams. While this is only anecdotal evidence, I will be looking for some clinical trials to back this up.
Other studies discovered that bacopa reduced anxiety while helping the mind learn quickly and retain information. And because of bacopa’s protective effect on neurons, some researchers believe it may help prevent and treat dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Once again, this is something that bears watching as more research is conducted.
For heart palpitations, however, a less well-known benefit is bacopa’s effect upon gastrointestinal issues – especially for people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). A clinical trial of 169 patients with IBS compared the effects of an Ayurvedic preparation containing bacopa to standard drug therapy.
At the end of the trial, those participants with IBS characterized by constipation did better on the drugs. But the subjects suffering from IBS with diarrhea got more relief from the ayurvedic therapy – probably because of bacopa’s ability to ease spasms in the gastrointestinal tract.
My own research already shows me that a spasming GI tract is a big issue for us here on the palpitations site. Quite often, these spasm are so aggressive that they are mistaken for heart palpitations. When this happens, we often go into a full blown anxiety attack. Of course, this only worsens the problem.
Where Can I Find Bacopa?
If you want the benefits of bacopa, think both inside and out. Studies show that taking 200 to 400 mg of a bacopa supplement to boost cognition and memory while potentially protecting your brain from age-related dementia. I buy most of my stuff rom Amazon.com. They are simply the best retailer on the planet. my stuff arrives in two days and is always top quality. Amazon will not deal with disreputable companies.
I am currently taking 250 mg per day – an hour before a meal – to measure the effects upon my GI tract.
In the coming weeks, I will report back on any benefits that I experience from this trial.