How does it feel?
If you can find a leaf or other brahmi preparation one of the first things you could do is to dissolve a little in water and shake it. It will foam, just like soap or detergent! This is a property of plant constituents called saponins (from the latin word for soap) and brahmi has a lot of them. So when you taste it the first impression is a strong soap or detergent like almost acrid and slightly bitter taste. This dominates and lingers long on the palate, accompanied by a slight with a slight background sweetness. You can get a sense of the implications by clicking on the Sweet taste below. Saponins often taste sweet and the description is applicable to both.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts, and saponin-rich remedies, such as ginseng and licorice, were favourite tonics, used to support and balance various functions in the body. We would now point to the likely modulating effect on steroid hormones, such as produced by the adrenal cortex, ovaries and testes, as saponins have similar structures.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of brahmi’s key qualities below to learn more:
What can I use it for?
Think of brahmi as primarily a brain tonic! It has the dual effect of promoting the intellect and improving cognitive functioning and learning ability, whilst also protecting brain cells against degeneration. Its protective action upon the brain is likely to include a reduction in oxidative damage and inflammation that is associated with ageing and ill-health.
It is an important element in any convalescent plan, to help in recovery from illness, breakdown, injury or to get out from under a chronic fatigue condition.
Brahmi is also essentially calming as well as restorative, to be considered in anxiety and tension conditions, adapting to stress, with symptoms like palpitations IBS and muscle cramps. Definitely consider it for menstrual cramps too, and any painful spasmodic visceral condition. Research even suggests it may be helpful in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
Into the heart of brahmi
Brahmi rejuvenates the mind, lifting the spirits and improving cognitive functions. At least part of the effect may be in reducing ageing and other inflammatory deteriorations on brain function (early laboratory evidence points to benefits on internal antioxidant mechanisms such as Nrf2 pathways).
Brahmi is documented in ancient Indian texts as far back as the 6th century being widely used to promote intellect and treat ‘dis’-eases of the mind. It was used in mental disorders, epilepsy (apasmara), mania and hysteria (unmada). It was seen specifically to enhance the quality of sadhaka pitta and this directly influence the nature of consciousness. It is widely used to aid recovery from exhaustion, stress and debility where there is aggravation of vata and is a specific herb for all conditions with a deficient majja dhatu.
What practitioners say
Cognitive functions: Brahmi improves memory, learning ability and concentration. It may be used as a component of a regime for dementia, and neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
Stress and exhaustion: Brahmi has adaptogenic properties, being useful managing in anxiety and depression and is well suited to helping with insomnia. It combines convalescent tonic properties (useful in the recovery from illness and exhaustion) with calming properties applicable to symptoms of nervous or muscle tension, including palpitations, IBS, and menstrual cramps.
Urinary: Brahmi can cool the heat of cystitis and pain of dysuria.
External Application: As a medicated oil Brahmi is a neuralgic in joint pain. It is used as a head rub for headaches and to clear the mind. It is also used to encourage hair growth.
Did you know?
Brahman is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness and Brahma is the divinity responsible for all ‘creative’ forces in the world. Brahmi literally means the ‘energy’ or ‘shakti’ of Brahman.
No problems expected
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
- Rasa (taste) Bitter, sweet.
- Virya (action) Cooling.
- Vipaka (post-digestive effect) Sweet.
- Guna (quality) Light, flowing (sara/laxative).
- Dosha effect: balances vata, pitta and kapha, in excess stimulates vata
- Dhatu (tissue) All tissues, especially plasma, blood, nerve
- Srotas (channels) Circulatory, digestive, nervous, excretory
Most of the clinical research data has concluded that the most demonstrable benefit of brahmi on cognitive functions is on memory performance. An early double-blind randomized, placebo control study showed among adults aged between 40 and 65 years these benefits could be maintained up to 3 months after the study. A later review of clinical trial evidence for daily doses of 300-450 mg brahmi extract also concluded the main benefits were on memory recall although conclusions were compromised by the mixed quality of the evidence. One study showed distinct benefits on memory performance in older persons, another demonstrated, compared to placebo a wider range of benefits including enhanced auditory verbal learning, word recall memory, the ability to ignore distractions, as well as depression and anxiety scores, and reducing heart rate. Another showed that 300mg per day of a brahmi product significantly improved working memory performance, especially spatial working memory accuracy. There were also benefits on visual information processing.
One systematic review concluded that there was preliminary promising benefits for Bacopa monnieri for improving elements of cognition, behaviour and attention-deficit domains in child and adolescent populations and that it was safe in this context.
To see the references used in this summary check our downloadable Expert Herbal Reality Resource pdf
2–6g/day dried leaves and aerial parts. The fresh juice is popular in India at 3 tsp/day
- Triterpenoid saponins bacosides A and B
- Triterpenes incl bacosine
- Alkaloids incl brahmine, herpestine
Several brahmi constituents have been linked to protective effects against pathological causes of neurological diseases