Bacopa monniera Wettst. (syn. Herpestis monniera L.; Hindi - Brahmi) is classified in Ayurveda, the classical Indian system of medicine, as Medhyarasayana, a group of plant derived drugs used as nervine tonics to promote mental health and improve memory and intellect. Earlier experimental and clinical studies have demonstrated the memory-promoting action of the plant extracts and that of its active saponins, bacoside A and B. The present study was designed to investigate the anxiolytic activity of a standardized extract (bacoside A content 25.5 ± 0.8%) of B. monniera (BM), since the plant is used in Ayurveda in clinical conditions resembling the modern concept of anxiety disorders. The animal models used have been extensively validated as experimental models of anxiety and included the open-field, elevated plusmaze, social interaction and novelty-suppressed feeding latency tests in rats. BM was used at doses of 5, 10 and 20 mg/kg, p.o. and the results were compared with those elicited by lorazepam, a well known benzodiazepine anxiolytic, used at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg, i.p. BM produced a dose-related anxiolytic activity, qualitatively comparable to that of lorazepam, in all the test parameters. However, statistically significant results were elicited usually by the higher two doses of BM. BM did not produce any significant motor deficit, at the doses used, as was evidenced by using the rota-rod test. The findings correlate with the clinical use of the plant in Ayurveda. The advantage of B. monniera over the widely used benzodiazepine anxiolytics lies in the fact that it promotes cognition unlike the amnesic action of the latter.
Copyright © 1998 Gustav Fischer Verlag. Published by Elsevier GmbH.. All rights reserved.