May 30, 2012

How to Boost Joy, Memory & Focus.

Dealing with bouts of depression, anxiety, “senior moments” and kids having difficulty staying on task at school has become a way of life for many Americans.

While there are many factors causing these problems, there is one herb that has recently emerged as a super-herb for the mind.

According to a recent report on ABC News, one in seven Americans is diagnosed with depression each year. Anxiety affects 13 percent of the population, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

Ten percent of school age children have poor memory, according to researchers at Durham University. Many of these kids are diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and one third of them—or five percent of the population—carries ADD symptoms into adult life, according to the National Mental Health Association.

There’s some amazing research on an herb used for thousands of years to support mood, focus and memory.

The herb is called bacopa monnieri.

It is understood to be the most potent and effective nerve and brain tonic in Ayurvedic medicine. It has been traditionally used to treat mental illness, anxiety, depression, memory loss, epilepsy and psychosis. Today, Ayurvedic doctors use it to support cognitive and focus issues.

Bacopa Supports Memory.

A 2002 study published in the journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, found that using bacopa monnieri for three months may improve memory. When 76 participants were tested on retention of new information, the placebo group forgot the information more quickly than the group taking bacopa monnieri. (1)

Bacopa Supports Learning.

According to a 2008 study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, elderly participants who took 300 millegrams per day of bacopa monnieri showed improvement in certain mental functions compared to a placebo group. The tests that examined attention and the ability to learn auditory verbal information showed the most improvement, leading the researchers to conclude that the herb might be used to improve cognitive function in elderly people. (2)

Bacopa Supports Mood.

If you experience depression or anxiety, taking bacopa monnieri may help. Bacopa monnieri supports the effects of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine, states the University of Michigan Health System. This effect on neurotransmitters is what enables bacopa monnieri to support mood-related symptoms.

According to Drug Digest, animal studies of bacopa monnieri’s effectiveness in treating mood issues have produced positive results, finding that Bacopa monnieri was nearly as effective as common prescription anti-anxiety medications, but without the side effects. (3)

Bacopa Fights Stress.

In addition to the improved cognitive function reported by a study in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, the participants taking bacopa monnieri also showed fewer mood issues and their heart rates were decreased over time. (4)

The journal, Phytotherapy Research, reported a study done on rats, where the brains of animals that were pre-treated with bacopa monnieri were less affected by stress, and the animals were physically better able to cope with stress. (4)

Bacopa Supports Stomach Health.

Bacopa monnieri might help with stomach ulcers, as well as protecting your gastrointestinal tract. Bacopa monnieri supports the production of healthy mucus in the gastrointestinal tract and appears to protect stomach cells, Drug Digest reports. (5)

I have discussed in many prior newsletters how stress can impact and irritate the mucus membrane lining of the gut. The result is intestinal dryness, constipation or an excess production of reactive mucus that will compromise the function of the intestinal villi to both assimilate nutrition and detoxify. Bacopa monnieri is one of the herbs I use to help sever that relationship between emotional stress and the gut, and support stress-induced damage to the digestive tract.

Bacopa Improves Respiratory Function.

Probably the best indicator of how we deal with stress is how we breathe. When the body is stressed, breathing becomes rapid and shallow, which triggers stress receptors located in the upper lobes of the lungs. This stress response over time can cause irritation of the respiratory tract and lead to certain respiratory ailments. Bacopa monnieri supports the relaxation of the bronchioles, which often become inflamed or irritated from respiratory conditions. Bacopa monnieri also supports the relaxation of the blood vessel muscles around the respiratory airway passages, notes the University of Michigan Health System. (6)

Final Thoughts.

In my practice, I do my best to track down and treat the cause of what is ailing my patients, not just the symptoms. Often, I am led to a history of chronic stress that has beaten the body down over many years. Stress—be it mental, physical or emotional—exhausts the body and leaves it vulnerable to a host of ailments, a few of which I have mentioned in this article.

While bacopa monnieri has excited the scientific community with its psychophysiological potential, it must be said that there is never a magic bullet. The hallmark of Ayurveda is living a healthy lifestyle in harmony with the environment. While I have witnessed incredible benefits using bacopa monnieri, it is always a combination of the right herb with the correct lifestyle adjustment that will fully restore balance.

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Editor: Lynn Hasselberger

1. http://www.livestrong.com/article/148214-the-effects-of-Bacopa monnieri -monnieri/#ixzz12gX5lEHb
2. http://www.livestrong.com/article/148214-the-effects-of-Bacopa monnieri -monnieri/#ixzz12gXntjvc
3. http://www.livestrong.com/article/128772-benefits-Bacopa monnieri /#ixzz12gYatAqd
4. http://www.livestrong.com/article/148214-the-effects-of-Bacopa monnieri -monnieri/#ixzz12gZlbgHL
5. http://www.livestrong.com/article/128772-benefits-Bacopa monnieri /#ixzz12gbJdM9o
6. http://www.livestrong.com/article/128772-benefits-Bacopa monnieri /#ixzz12gdyIOBx

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