Ayurveda and Brain Fog: Fight Forgetfulness and Fogginess with Bacopa

Ayurveda and Brain Fog: Fight Forgetfulness and Fogginess with Bacopa

In This Article

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is not a medical condition, but it is something most of us have experienced at one time or another. It is when you find it more difficult to organize your thoughts, focus or multitask. It can affect long and short term memory as well as your ability to think, communicate, and plan ahead. While temporary for most, it can affect your cognitive performance at work, school or in the home.

It is commonly caused by a lack of sleep, no exercise, poor nutrition, exposure to environmental pollutants, dehydration, stress, excessive screen time and the side effects of certain medications.

Symptoms can often include more than just cloudy thinking. It can be associated with: low energy, occasional headaches, trouble sleeping, mood swings, irritability, lack of motivation and creativity.

 Ayurveda’s Top Herb for Brain Fog

Bacopa monnieri is considered Ayurveda’s most effective herb for sharpening the mind, memory, and intellect. It also supports emotional stability in times of stress.

In Ayurveda, it holds a special classification among herbs as a medha rasayana.

A rasayana is any intervention that supports longevity and prevents illness while also supporting physical, mental, and psychological rejuvenation. Medha is a term for the body’s fatty tissue. A Medha rasayana is an herb that cleanses and rejuvenates the fatty tissues of the body. Bacopa is a brain-specific medha rasayana because it revitalizes the fatty tissue of the brain, boosting brain functions related to brain fog.

Because bacopa has this ability to target the brain’s fatty tissues, it can play an important role in providing deep rejuvenation to the brain.

Bacopa is a Nootropic Herb

In Western medicine, bacopa is considered a nootropic herb that supports cognitive enhancement. The active ingredients most responsible for these benefits are bacosides A and B, which are often extracted and concentrated to make a more pure supplement.

But, according to Ayurveda, pure is not always better. Extracting and concentrating active ingredients, in this case the bacosides, can alter the subtle intelligence of the plant. Excluding parts of a plant or changing its chemical balance can render the plant sterile—devoid of the natural beneficial bacteria that synergistically enhances the properties of the plant and makes it more potent.

This is why LifeSpa’s Bacopa Boost is a whole herb supplement. Whole herbs carry beneficial bacteria that can support a healthy microbiome.

See also When to Use Whole Herbs vs. Extracts

Your Brain on Bacopa: Fighting Brain Fog and Aging

As a memory and learning enhancer, bacopa is backed by dozens of studies, dating back for decades. Here is what researchers have found over the years.

1. Bacopa Supports Faster Cognitive Processing

In a 2001 double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 46 healthy people between the ages of 18 and 60, researchers gave a group of the participants 300mg of bacopa extract twice a day for 12 weeks. These participants saw significant improvement in the speed of auditory and visual learning, memory, and the ability to cope with feelings of apprehension and nervousness.

2. Bacopa Can Improve Memory

A 2010 study found that Bacopa also thickens nerve fibers in the hippocampus of the brain—the area responsible for learning, memory, and age-related cognitive decline.

In a similar 2006 study, researchers found that taking 125 mg of bacopa extract twice a day for 12 weeks resulted in significant improvement in mental control, logical memory, and learning, compared to a placebo.

In a 2002 double-blind placebo-controlled study of 76 adults (40 to 65 years old), researchers found that participants who took 300mg per day of the dried bacopa root for 3 months  could retain new information better than the placebo group. This is a unique study that shows using just 300 mg of the dried root was as effective as the studies that used concentrated extracts. Take 1 Bacopa Boost capsule three times a day after meals. We can see from this study that science supports the concept that the whole dried root is as effective as the extracts. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the whole root will carry the subtle intelligence of the plant better than a sterile extract. In the long run this will help the body restore normal function without becoming dependent on a higher potency extract or concentrate that is aimed at doing the job for the body.

See also 5 Botanicals to Support Healthy Cognitive Function and Memory

3. Bacopa Helps with Attention, Too

In a 2012 study, 60 healthy adults received supplemental whole-herb bacopa at either 300g or 600mg per for 12 weeks. Compared to a placebo group, both groups that took bacopa saw a significant improvement in focus, attention, cognitive processing, and working memory.

4. Bacopa Protects the Brain from Aluminum Toxicity

Aluminum is a toxic heavy metal that can accumulate in brain tissue. It may cause damage to the proteins and lipids (fats) in the brain, as well as significant free radical damage that has been directly linked to cognitive decline and reduced brain function. In a 2007 study, when aluminum toxicity was introduced to the brains of rats, bacopa acted as neuroprotectant, shielding their brains from oxidative damage caused by aluminum exposure. Bacopa blocked the aluminum from destroying the brain’s natural antioxidant enzymes, while also protecting the brain from nerve cell damage at a microscopic level.

5. Bacopa May Protect the Brain from Cigarette Smoke

The brain is particularly vulnerable to damage from chronic exposure to cigarette smoke. The nicotine and other chemicals in cigarettes can damage the energy-producing cells, or mitochondria, of the brain. A 2005 study on rats suggested that bacoside A, one of the active ingredients of bacopa, protects the brain from cigarette smoke damage by maintaining the structural and functional integrity of the mitochondrial membrane.

In a 2007 study on the same issue, supplemental bacopa protected mice livers from the ravages of oxidative stress caused by nicotine in cigarette smoke. Nicotine has been linked to elevated liver enzymes and a decrease in the liver’s natural protective and detoxifying enzymes, including glutathione and super-oxide dismutase. Bacopa was shown to bring these enzymes back into the normal range after smoke exposure.

See also Ayurveda’s Take on Weed

Bacopa and Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor

As you can see, the science on bacopa has found no shortage of chemical pathways that help explain how and why it has been so revered in Ayurveda for so many thousands of years. We have seen how it can protect the brain from aging, memory loss, cigarette smoke, aluminum toxicity, and other stressors.

For decades researchers told us that we could not grow new brain cells—saying that if you damaged them by excessive drinking or smoking, they were gone forever. That all changed with the discovery a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). BDNF can induce the natural replication of brain cells.  

There is a short list of botanicals that boost the brain’s levels of BDNF, and research suggests that bacopa is one of most effective.

See more Boost Mood + Memory Now with Ayurvedic Nootropics Brahmi + Bacopa

Learn more about LifeSpa’s Bacopa


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Dr. John

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