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STUDY: Protection from phenytoin-induced cognitive deficit by Bacopa monniera, a reputed Indian nootropic plant.
JOURNAL: J Ethnopharmacol 2000 Aug;71(3):383-90
AUTHORS: Vohora D, Pal SN, Pillai KK.
ABSTRACT: Many epileptic patients suffer from cognitive impairments; both the underlying pathology and antiepileptic drug therapy can cause such deficits. Phenytoin, one of the widely used anticonvulsants, is known to adversely affect cognitive function. A reputed Indian nootropic plant Bacopa monniera (BM) was evaluated alone and in combination with phenytoin for its effect on (a) passive-avoidance (PA) task; (b) maximal electroshock seizures; and (c) locomotor activity in mice. Bacopa extract (40 mg/kgx7 days), given along with phenytoin in the second week of the two-week regimen, significantly reversed PHT-induced mental impairment. Both acquisition and retention of memory showed improvement without affecting its anticonvulsant activity. (J Ethnopharmacol 2000 Aug;71(3):383-90)
COMMENTARY: Bacopa ('Brahmi') is an Ayurvedic botanical with apparent anti-anxiety, anti-fatigue, and memory-strengthening effects. Bacopa monniera, Linn. (Brahmi: Scrophulariaceae) an Ayurvedic medicine is clinically used for memory enhancing, epilepsy, insomnia and as mild sedative. The results suggested that Brahmi is a potent antioxidant. (Indian J Exp Biol 1996 Jun;34(6):523-6) Administration of extract from Bacopa monnieri, to children with mental retardation, was reported to significantly improve short-term and long-term memory. (Ann Acad Med Singapore 2000 Jan;29(1):37-41)
Modern research has validated the Ayurvedic claims indicating that Bacopa monniera can improve performance in various learning situations. (J Ethnopharmacol 1982 Mar;5(2):205-14)
Results suggest that Bacopa, like the anti-Parkinson drug deprenyl, exhibits a significant antioxidant effect after subchronic administration which, unlike the latter, extends to the hippocampus as well. The results suggest that the increase in oxidative free radical scavenging activity by BM may explain, at least in part, the cognition- facilitating action of Bacopa, recorded in Ayurvedic texts, and demonstrated experimentally and clinically. (Phytother Res 2000 May;14(3):174-9)
Bacopa has additional effects on both bowel disturbance and allergy. Among 169 patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), standard therapy, a compound Ayurvedic preparation containing Bacopa monniere, along with a matching placebo were given in a double blind randomised trial for 6 wk. The Ayurvedic preparation in 57 patients was found effective in 64. 9 per cent, while standard therapy (60 patients) was useful in 78.3 per cent. Patients on placebo (52 patients) showed improvement in 32.7 per cent only. Ayurvedic therapy was particularly beneficial in diarrhoea predominant form as compared to placebo. (Indian J Med Res 1989 Dec;90:496-503)
Bacopa has also been shown to stabilize mast cells, an anti-allergy mnechanism of action not unlike that of many conventional anti-allergy medications. Extracts of Bacopa monnieri were tested for mast cell stabilising effect. Theyxhibited potent activity comparable to disodium cromoglycate, a known mast cell stabiliser. (Fitoterapia 2001 Mar;72(3):284-5)
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