Mental Health

Water Hyssop Leaf: A Powerful Adaptogen

Water Hyssop Leaf: A Powerful Adaptogen

Water Hyssop Leaf: Also Known as Bacopa

What Is Water Hyssop?


Bacopa monnieri , also known as Water Hyssop, Brahmi, or simply Bacopa, is a creeping succulent herb that produces small, scentless white flowers. It has been prized for thousands of years among practitioners of Ayurveda — the ancient Indian system of medicine — as a nootropic herb, supporting mental performance and concentration, improving memory, reducing anxiety, and helping treat epilepsy. 


Because of its many impressive health benefits, specifically those associated with the brain and nervous system, we have included water hyssop as one of the primary herbs in our Brain Flow cogntitive enhacement formula, a key product in our Brain Function Supplement Collection.


What is Water Hyssop Used For?


Water hyssop is associated with learning, memory, concentration, and knowledge. Traditionally, people have used water hyssop to increase concentration and devotion to support a spiritual or meditative practice, and it is believed that ancient scholars utilized water hyssop as a nootropic to memorize extensive hymns and scriptures. 


Water hyssop offers antioxidant support to the brain and is thought to promote a healthy, thriving mind. Recent research suggests it may support both short and long-term brain health for people in all stages of life. A class of powerful compounds called bacosides in Bacopa monnieri is believed to be responsible for this herb’s medicinal benefits.


What are the health benefits of water hyssop?


Used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for centuries, water hyssop has a number of impressive health benefits:


Water Hyssop may help with neurodegenerative disorders and enhance cognitive function.


Bacosides, the main active compounds in water hyssop, have been shown to neutralize free radicals and prevent fat molecules from reacting with free radicals. When fat molecules react with free radicals, they undergo a process called lipid peroxidation.


Water hyssop may help prevent damage caused by this process. For example, a study showed that treating rats with dementia with Bacopa monnieri reduced free radical damage and reversed signs of memory impairment.


Not only has this incredible herb been used to improve brain function for thousands of years, but modern research also suggests that water hyssop has cognitive enhancing properties. For example, one study in mice showed that supplementing with Bacopa monnieri improved their spatial learning and ability to retain information. The same study also found that it increased dendritic length and branching. Dendrites are parts of nerve cells in the brain that are closely linked to learning and memory.


Additionally, a 12-week study in 46 healthy adults observed that taking 300 mg of Bacopa monnieri daily significantly improved the speed of processing visual information, learning rate, and memory, compared with the placebo treatment.


Water hyssop may reduce ADHD


Interestingly, research has shown that Bacopa monnieri may help to reduce attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), a neurodevelopmental disorder that is characterized by symptoms like hyperactivity, impulsivity, and inattentiveness. One study in 31 children aged 6–12 years found that taking 225 mg of Bacopa monnieri extract daily for 6 months significantly reduced ADHD symptoms, such as restlessness, poor self-control, inattention, and impulsivity in 85% of the children. Another study in 120 children with ADHD observed that taking an herbal blend that contained 125 mg of Bacopa monnieri improved attention, cognition, and impulse control, compared with the placebo group.


Water hyssop may help to reduce anxiety and depression


Research on water hyssop suggests that it may provide a significant decrease in anxiety symptoms, including level of anxiety, level of disability, and mental fatigue. Animal studies show an increase in immediate memory span, unlike the use of benzodiazepines such as Xanax and Valium that are known to impair memory.


Recently, the acute effects of water hyssop (320 and 640mg doses) on stress and mood swings generated by multitasking were demonstrated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Reduced stress associated with a reduction in cortisol levels and improved mood was noted in the participants.


Water hyssop has also been shown to alter brain levels of dopamine, noradrenaline and serotonin, neurotransmitters associated with anxiety and depression although research does not yet offer definitive answers as to the effectiveness of water hyssop in mood disorders. 


Water hyssop has been shown to increase levels of serotonin


Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that has often been referred to as “the happy hormone” as it is the key hormone that stabilizes our mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness. Research on water hyssop shows that it helps to maintain the balance of serotonin by increasing serotonin synthesis and regulating the reuptake of serotonin, increasing the duration and intensity of serotonergic activity at the synapse. This could be one of the mechanisms that enhance learning and memory processing as well as it benefits in managing depression. 


Water hyssop is used as an adaptogen


The herbal definition of an adaptogen is “a plant that increases the body's resistance to adverse influences by a wide range of physical, chemical, and biochemical factors and has a normalizing or restorative effect on the body as a whole.”


When we face a stressor, whether physical or mental, our bodies go through what is called general adaptation syndrome (GAS). GAS is a three-stage response: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion. Adaptogens are a category of herbs that help us stay in the resistance phase longer, via a stimulating effect that holds off the exhaustion. Instead of crashing in the midst of a stressful moment, task, or event, we attain equilibrium and can move through it. 


To learn more about adaptogens, read our blog "What Are Adaptogenic Herbs?"


Water hyssop may reduce stress and help with anxiety


As an adaptogenic herb, water hyssop shows promising results in reducing anxiety and helping the body adapt to stress. Research suggests that Bacopa monnieri helps reduce stress and anxiety by elevating your mood and reducing levels of cortisol, a hormone that is closely linked to stress levels. One rodent study showed that Bacopa had anti-anxiety effects comparable to those of lorazepam (benzodiazepine), a prescription medication used to treat anxiety.


Water hyssop has anti-inflammatory properties


Another notable benefit of Bacopa is that it may also reduce inflammation. Inflammation is your body’s natural response to help heal and fight disease, however, chronic, low-level inflammation has been linked to many chronic conditions.


In test-tube studies, Bacopa monnieri appeared to suppress the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which are molecules that stimulate an inflammatory immune response. Also, in test-tube and animal studies, it inhibited enzymes, such as cyclooxygenases, caspases, and lipoxygenases — all of which play key roles in inflammation and pain.


What are the active compounds in water hyssop?


There are many active compounds in water hyssop, but the primary compounds associated with most of its health benefits are Bacosides A and B (a mixture of two saponins). These plant saponins are believed to be responsible for water hyssop’s positive effect on learning and memory.


Administration of bacosides (200 mg/kg) for three months in aged rats exerted a protective effect against age-associated alterations in the neurotransmission system, behavioral paradigms, hippocampal neuronal loss, and oxidative stress markers.


A standardized extract of water hyssop prevented okadaic acid-induced cognitive dysfunction in rats by decreasing oxidative stress and neuroinflammation.


In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, standardized extract of water hyssop (300 and 600 mg treatment for 12 weeks) improved the attention, cognitive processing, and working memory in healthy elderly volunteers partly via the suppression of AChE activity—an  enzyme that catalyzes the breakdown of acetylcholine and other neurotransmitters


In another double-blind, placebo-controlled study, acute treatment with water hyssop showed an improvement in the cognitive performance of normal healthy volunteers.


As one can see, there are some very impressive benefits shown in the research on water hyssop and its active compounds. While Bacoides A and B are largely attributed to the majority of water hyssop’s health benefits, other active compounds found in water hyssop include: brahmine, nicotinine, herpestine, saponins A, B and C, triterpenoid saponins, stigmastanol, β-sitosterol, betulinic acid, D-mannitol, stigmasterol, α-alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and serine and pseudo jujubogenin glycoside. 


Is water hyssop safe?


Water hyssop has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, and it is prized for its many benefits to cognitive health. Many modern studies and clinical trials have been conducted on water hyssop, and the results are impressive. Based on both traditional use and modern research, water hyssop is shown to be a generally safe and effective herb with a specific affinity for the brain and nervous system.


However, as with any herb, there may be contraindications for certain groups or conditions.


Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There hasn’t been enough research to say for certain that water hyssop is safe to use when pregnant or breast-feeding.

Slow heart rate (bradycardia): Water hyssop is considered to be calming to the nervous system and may slightly slow down the heartbeat. This could be a problem in people who already have a slow heart rate.

Ulcers: Water hyssop might increase secretions in the stomach and intestines. There is concern that this could worsen ulcers for those who suffer from them. If you have a stomach ulcer, it may be best to play it safe and avoid using water hyssop.

Thyroid disorders: Water hyssop might increase levels of thyroid hormone. Bacopa should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.





Water Hyssop (Bacopa monnieri) is an incredible plant with powerful medicinal compounds and a rich history of traditional use. Revered for centuries by Ayurvedic practitioners as a brain tonic to improve cognitive functioning and meditative concentration, and with plenty of research supporting its health properties, water hyssop is a powerful nootropic aid and a wonderful herb to use for enhancing brain function and overall health.


Because of its many impressive health benefits, specifically those associated with the brain and nervous system, we have included water hyssop as one of the primary herbs in our Brain Flow nootropic formula.


Containing a synergistic blend of herbs that have been well studied by modern researchers, and have been used traditionally for centuries, our Brain Flow formula may help the brain form new nerve connections, help with memory and motor function by increasing acetylcholine level, dissolve cellular debris that builds up in your brain cells, and increase oxygen levels and blood flow to the brain. When used alongside a healthy diet and lifestyle, this formula can offer many benefits to the body and brain, allowing you to experience life with greater energy, focus, and mental clarity.






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