Bacopa Monnieri is a plant that grows on 6 out of 7 continents (except for Antarctica). Ayurveda doctors use it for 1400 years to treat asthma, epilepsy, swellings, tumors, ulcers, leprosy, anemia, enlarged spleen and digestive problems. Investigation of its health effects is generously funded by the Indian government for more than 20 years- for a reason!
As a nootropic agent, it has been around for a few decades.
The plant should not be mixed with other representatives of species since that might cause interactions between active substances.
How does it work?
Among the plant’s many active substances, bacoside A is the most important one. Research studies have described multiple different mechanisms by which Bacopa Monnieri improve cognitive function.
Neuroprotection/ Antioxidant 
The bacoside A significantly slows down neurodegenerative processes and reduces oxidative stress in Parkinson’s disease and other health conditions that involve deterioration of nerve cells of the brain. This effect has been described and confirmed by more than 30 clinical studies. Bacoside A might become an effective treatment for Parkinson’s disease and dementia soon.
Neurotransmitter potentiation 
It enhances cognitive functions by increasing the number of neurotransmitters in synaptic clefts throughout relevant brain regions. The mechanism of this action is very complicated, includes different protein transporters, gene expression, enzyme activity and change of neurotransmitters levels (dopamine and acetylcholine, primarily).
Increased cerebral blood flow 
Bacoside A acts as a vasodilator of brain blood vessels. This effect is achieved by releasing NO (nitric oxide) from endothelial (inner lining of blood vessels) cells. It might be one of the most important health effects of bacoside A in the long run. Maintaining adequate cerebral blood flow is of utmost importance for brain health, cognitive function, and stroke prevention.
Learning and memory improvement 
Studies show that it does not improve learning mechanisms as much as it attenuates forgetting. Although this difference has importance for academic disputes, from a practical point of view, the result is the same- better recall time, better memory, and better cognitive function.
The recommended (safe) dose for thinking and memory improvement is 300mg of standardized Bacopa Monnieri extract per day for 12 weeks.
Common side effects are result of excessive acetylcholine potentiation (upset stomach, nausea, fatigue, and dry mouth).
Some people might experience bradycardia- those who already have a low heart rate (using beta blockers, for example), should avoid Bacopa Monnieri supplements.
Since the supplement may cause increased stomach acid secretion- those suffering from stomach ulcer should avoid using the supplement.
It may cause increased mucous secretion in lungs, so it’s not recommended for people who suffer emphysema, asthma, COPD and other chronic respiratory diseases.
Is it worth trying?
People who tried it and didn’t have any adverse effects experienced a noticeable memory and focused improvement. To minimize the risk of adverse effects, make sure you don’t suffer any of the health issues mentioned above.
After all, this is one of the few nootropic agents that has strong scientific evidence behind and trying it wouldn’t defy common sense.
 Effect of bacoside A on brain antioxidant status in cigarette smoke exposed rats. Anbarasi K, Vani G, Balakrishna K, Devi CS Life Sci. 2006 Feb 16; 78(12):1378-84.
 Effect of Bacopa monniera on stress induced changes in plasma corticosterone and brain monoamines in rats. Sheikh N, Ahmad A, Siripurapu KB, Kuchibhotla VK, Singh S, Palit GJ Ethnopharmacol. 2007 May 22; 111(3):671-6.
 Bacopa monnieri increases cerebral blood flow in rat independent of blood pressure. Kamkaew N, Norman Scholfield C, Ingkaninan K, Taepavarapruk N, Chootip K Phytother Res. 2013 Jan; 27(1):135-8.
 Chronic effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on human memory. Roodenrys S, Booth D, Bulzomi S, Phipps A, Micallef C, Smoker J Neuropsychopharmacology. 2002 Aug; 27(2):279-81.