27 July 2011

Ayurvedic herb extract boosts memory and concentration

Two clinical trials have identified that CDRI 08, a specific extract of the Indian plant Bacopa monnieri, promotes memory, recall, concentration and mental clarity in adults.


Two clinical trials conducted by the Brain Sciences Institute (BSI) at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, have positively identified that CDRI 08, a specific extract of the Indian plant Bacopa monnieri, promotes memory, recall, concentration and mental clarity in adults. A preliminary study conducted by the Central Drug Research Institute (CDRI) in India on 40 children with ADHD, has also found that it significantly improves cognition.

Bacopa has been used as a memory enhancing agent in Ayurvedic medicine since 1500 BC, with scientific research into this intriguing plant first conducted in 1963 and 1965 by the CDRI. For the next three decades, further CDRI research led to the careful selection of plant material and a well defined manufacturing process resulting in the patented extract CDRI 08.

Seven clinical trials in India and three subsequent trials in Australia proved that CDRI 08 is safe and effective in enhancing the retention of new information in the brain, improving the speed of visual processing, improving learning rate and memory consolidation, and enhancing nerve impulse transmission. The study conducted on Indian children with ADHD showed improvements in overall memory, sentence repetition, logical memory, word recall, digit span and delayed response learning. Studies have also shown that CDRI 08 has a pronounced antioxidant effect.

Safe and no side-effects

Australian researcher, Professor Con Stough of the Brain Sciences Institute (BSI) in Melbourne, notes that “numerous clinical studies have shown KeenMind (the Australian listing for CDRI 08) to be safe, well tolerated and devoid of any undesirable side-effects".

This is a significant plus for this natural medicine, as Stough gives a long list of side-effects for medical interventions currently being used to treat cognitive decline and dementia in the ageing population: “These include diarrhoea, muscle cramps, fatigue, nausea, rhinitis, vomiting, anorexia and insomnia. Available treatments for ADHD and hyperactive/inattentive kids are also limited and with many side effects,” he says.

Ginkgo biloba

KeenMind is not the only natural medicine targeting brain function. Clinical trials with Ginkgo biloba have shown that it also improves memory. “The botanical composition of many ginkgo brands is not, however, specifically clinically proven or identical to the specific extracts that were used in trials,” says psycho-pharmacologist, Andrea Zangara, of Soho Flordis International.    

“Ginkgo and KeenMind have different modes of action,” he elaborates, “thus, they could arguably be used together." Ginkgo increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. It also acts as a blood thinner, however, making long-term usage a minimum, but possible concern, particularly for people who are taking blood-thinning medications.

“Clinical studies on KeenMind have shown that in addition to enhancing cognitive functioning, it has anti-anxiety, antidepressant and adaptogenic effects.”

Stough adds that KeenMind’s antioxidant, neuroprotective and metal chelating properties are "strong indicators that it can assist the brain in the daily fight against pollution, lifestyle (smoke, diet, etc) and the structural-functional brain changes associated with ageing".

Due to its impressive safety and efficacy profile, the Australian government has given a grant of $174 000 to support a study where the effects of KeenMind on 310 health elderly subjects will be assessed over a year to compare their memory with that of subjects receiving placebo.

Alzheimer's disease

Additional trials planned by the BSI include a larger inattention and hyperactivity multicentre trial on 100 hyperactive/inattentive children. There are also plans to test the long-term administration of KeenMind over five years to assess the extent to which mild cognitive impairment might be reduced, and its progression into Alzheimer’s disease slowed down. 

In today’s society, Stough points out that optimal brain function is not only affected by ageing. “Attention and information processing are also impaired in many day to day situations by illness, stress, fatigue and increased pressure for performance at school and at work,” he says. Trials on healthy subjects to date indicate that KeenMind is also beneficial in these instances. 

Recently launched in South Africa by Flordis SA, KeenMind can be prescribed by doctors and homoeopaths. It will also be available as an over-the-counter drug at selected pharmacies.  

Flordis SA press release

- (Health24, July 2011)


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