Efficacy of Bacopa monnieri in revitalizing intellectual functions in children

A study was conducted to determine the effects of Bacopa monnieri in revitalizing the mental capacities of 40 elementary school children (6-8 years old).

Study design
Group I

Twenty children were given one teaspoonful of Bacopa monnieri syrup three times daily for three months. (Each teaspoonful was equivalent to 350 mg of crude Brahmi).

Group II

Twenty children received the placebo, syrup with no Bacopa, three times daily for three months.

The psychological measures of efficacy of Bacopa monnieri were based on the following tests:

  • Test 1: WISC maze to measure discrimination learning by way of visual-motor performance
  • Test 2: WISC digit span test to approximate immediate memory skills
  • Test 3: Raven’s colored progressive matrices to measure cognitive ability
  • Test 4: Bender Gestalt test which records activities related to brain functions as a measure of cognitive skills
Results
Test 1

A statistically significant increase in raw scores and their corresponding total quotient (p < 0.001) and a statistically significant decrease in reaction time, (p < 0.001), performance time (p < 0.01) and error incidence (p < 0.1) were observed in the Bacopa- treated group. These changes were insignificant in the placebo group.

Test 2

Statistically a significant (p < 0.01) improvement was observed in the Bacopa -treated group.

Test 3

There was a significant improvement in reaction time in the Bacopa -treated group (p < 0.001). Insignificant changes were observed in the placebo group.

Test 4

There was a significant decrease in scores (positive response, p < 0.1) in the Bacopa -treated group. Insignificant changes were observed in the placebo group.

No direct comparison between the herbal treatment group and the placebo group was calculated. However, significant improvements were observed in maze learning (visual-motor function) and the digit span test (immediate memory) for the treated group. No improvement was observed in the placebo group.

With regard to perceptual organization and reasoning ability, the effects of both treatments were comparable.

These results show that the Brahmi treatment significantly improved discrimination learning, memory and cognitive functions in the subjects. These findings validate the potential use of Bacopa monnieri in formulations to improve visual-motor functions and immediate memory in children.