Bacopa monniera – Folium (Scrophularaceae)
Common name: Bacopa (E), Herpestis (E), Jalabrahmi (H)
The mind enhancing and nervous system soothing effects of this plant are legendary. 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 (i.e. Sarasvati). With Brahmi deriving its name from these roots it has a lot to live up to. And it does!
Brahmi is a creeping annual plant that loves water and is often found spreading across river banks. It is a small, prostrate, glabrous and fleshy herb with particularly soft and succulent leaves. The stems of the plant are 10-30cm in length. Brahmi flowers are blue or white with purple veins and are often larger than the leaves. It can also be found ascending to altitudes of over 1300m.
How it Works
Brahmi rejuvenates the mind, lifting the spirits and increasing the intellect. This herb improves cerebral circulation, positively impacting upon cognitive functioning through improving neurotransmitter functioning. Brahmi also acts as a protective agent to the brain aiding recovery from mental degeneration or damage, particularly where this may be related to ageing, through encouraging protein synthesis in the brain and also modulating the responses of the brains stress hormones. Brahmi is considered as an antioxidant to the brain cells, protecting against the negative effects of nicotine, aluminium and heavy metals. The primary constituent found in Brahmi, bacopasides, have been associated with reducing beta-amyloid plaques associated with Alzheimer’s.
Into the Heart of Brahmi
- Brahmi is primarily used as a tonic to the Brain. 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 attributed to this herb containing a high level of antioxidants that have been shown to impact directly upon the cells in the brain protecting them from oxidative damage and inflammation. This provides protection against degenerative conditions that target the brain and cognitive functioning. In addition to this, Brahmi has also displayed an ability to break down plaques in the brain commonly associated with Alzheimer’s, and improve protein synthesis encouraging the regeneration of brain cells.
- Brahmi will restore an exhausted nervous system, particularly where conditions are exacerbated by increased stress levels.
- The combination of restoring the nervous system and improving cerebral concentration means that Brahmi improves the functioning of neurotransmitters in the brain. This has made Brahmi an effective herb in conditions such as ADHD and epilepsy but also in heightened anxiety and stress.
- Brahmi is an effective anti-spasmodic relieving muscular tension, especially where this is exacerbated by stress, for example during the menstrual cycle.
Brain: Brahmi improves memory, learning ability and concentration. It is used in mental disorders, epilepsy (apasmara), mania and hysteria (unmada). It specifically enhances the quality of sadhaka pitta and this directly influences the nature of consciousness.
Nerves: Brahmi is 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. Brahmi is indicated in conditions such as parkinson’s disease, alzheimer’s, dementia, ADHD, asperger syndrome, autism, depression and drug addiction because of its rejuvenative effect upon the brain Brahmi is very useful in conditions with an underlying nervous imbalance, including skin conditions and will ease tension throughout the system helping relax muscle tightness and constipation but also alleviating menstrual pain. Brahmi’s tonifying effect upon the brain and relaxing effect upon the nerves has made it useful in treating insomnia.
Urinary & Kidney: Brahmi can cool the heat of cystitis and pain of dysuria by guiding pitta out of the mutravahasrota.
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 as a brain tonic to strengthen the memory and encourage hair growth.