The herb is known by different names. It is known as Brahmi in Hindi, Water Hyssop in English and its botanical name is Bacopa monnieri. It finds mention in a number of ancient Ayurvedic texts like Atharva Veda, Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita.
Brahmi is quite prominent Ayurvedic herb, mostly famous for its ability to work as a tonic for the brain. Ayurveda classifies the herb as a Medha Rasayana which means herb that provides longevity and improves memory and intelligence.
Brahmi is a perennial creeping herb with soft and non-aromatic and can grow up to 6 inches in height. The herb is sometimes also called water aquarium plant since it can grow in water.
It is light in weight, bitter and astringent in taste, it is cold in nature, and conversion of taste after digestion is sweet. It balances Vata and Kapha doshas. In Charak Samhita, Acharya Charak classifies Brahmi as the following:
• Balya – herbs that provide strength and immunity
• Prjasthapan – herbs useful in stabilizing pregnancy
• Medhya Rasayan – herbs beneficial for the brain
• Sanjnasthapana – herbs that restore consciousness.
Benefits of Barahmi
Investigations conducted so far have revealed that Brahmi exerts many pharmacological effects including memory boosting effect in the treatment of Alzheimer Disease and Schizophrenia, besides displaying antiparkinson, antistroke, and anticonvulsant potentials. Brahmi has been reported to increase the level of serotonin, trigger 5-HT3A receptors and CREB in hippocampus of postpartum rats thereby facilitating its learning abilities. A recent study also suggests Brahmi as an effective medicine for disorders like psychosis (unmada), schizophrenia, OCD, and depression.
Brahmi is demonstrated to play a role in treating Parkinson’s disease, which is a neurodegenerative disorder marked by the loss of neurons. Findings showed a protective role of Brahmi in reducing infarct size in the ischemic brain and ameliorating memory dysfunction. Additionally, administration of Brahmi improved the muscle coordination. Brahmi is one of the best available tonics which help in improving cognition and functioning of the brain. It is usually given in combination with other herbs like Ashwagandha to improve memory and concentration.
According to another study conducted, Brahmi helped in enhancing the learning rate, retention of information and the speed with which visual information is processed. They lower the oxidative stress in the brain and help create new neural pathways. This ensures a sharp and young brain even at old age.
Antioxidants are those substances which protect the cells of the body against the risk of cell damage posed by free radicals. Free radicals build oxidative stress in the body and can hamper the functioning of normal cells. One of the studies affirms the antioxidant property of Brahmi claiming that it reduces free radical damage which is also considered as anti-ageing.
Brahmi due to its cooling and calming effect helps in proper blood flow to the brain leading to improved quality of hair. Brahmi oil is also said to be effective in the treatment of dandruff, hair loss and itchy scalp.
Medicinal properties of Brahmi include antioxidant, adaptogenic, diuretic, anti-anxiety, sedative, and anti spasmodic.
• Vranaan hanta – can improve the rate of wound healing
• Medha – helps in improving intelligence
• Kasajit – useful in cough and cold
• Shwasahara – can help cure respiratory disorders
• Anilam hanta – is useful in nervous system-related disorders
• Shophahara – is anti-inflammatory
• Panduhara – helps in anaemia
• Kushtahara – useful in skin related disorders
• Vak – improves speech quality