Brahmi (Benefits of)
by ADAM G06-Feb-2007

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Botanical name: Bacopa monniera
Common names: Brahmi and Water Hyssop
The herb Brahmi has fast become one of today’s most sought after herbs in Australia. This herb is a succulent creeper that is found throughout India. The herb Brahmi is considered to be the foremost brain tonic herb in the Ayurvedic healing system. It is mainly used as a nerve tonic in order to treat insomnia and nervous tension. This herb has been found to contain saponins. Saponins have been shown to strengthen the nervous system and decrease insomnia.
Brahmi has also been shown to have hypotensive and diuretic properties. Also, it has been found to be an effective “brain food” since it nourishes the brain and can improve memory and intelligence. Another way it has been used is as an Ayurvedic rejuvenate that helps to decrease the signs of aging, especially in the mind since it can increase mental clarity and brain function. Since it enhances the mind’s ability to learn and focus, the herb Brahmi is a great herb for students. One unique quality about this herb is that it seems to calm the mind and yet at the same time invigorate its thinking capacity in a centered way. People that want to improve their mental function and their ability to concentrate under stressful conditions may find the herb Brahmi useful.
In pharmacological studies, the herb Brahmi has been shown to have anti-anxiety, relaxing, memory-enhancing, antioxidant, anti-cancer, immuno-modulation, bronchodilatory, and anti-inflammatory effect. When it was put through human trials it was shown to vastly improve the speed in which visual information is processed, rate of learning and memory consolidation, and the state of one’s anxiety. There have been no major side effects associated with taking the herb Brahmi. In larger doses, it has been known to be a sedative. Although, you would think this would inhibit one’s ability to drive, it has been shown to increase reaction time. Below are some of the many common uses that Brahmi can be used for.
High Blood Pressure
In studies of people with heart disease and high blood pressure, Brahmi has shown to have hypotensive effects. Those who took it experienced a huge reduction in their diastolic blood pressure compared to those that took a placebo.
Brahmi showed anti-anxiety quality in pharmacological studies, not to mention it seemed to boost mental function. A recent study showed that people who took it were less likely to be upset by a sudden loud noise than those who took a placebo.
Brahmi has been shown to be able to relax the muscles that control the airways in the lungs. During an asthma attack, these muscles contract and make it hard to breathe. Taking Brahmi can help those muscles to stay relaxed and to reduce the number of asthma attacks that a person has.
An older study in India found that an extract of Brahmi could reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures in some people. Further research is needed to determine exactly how effective it is in reducing them.
Alzheimer’s Disease
Some animal studies have shown that Brahmi can enhance mental function and learning ability. Studies in people have also shown that it can enhance memory and the ability to learn. It is also good for those that experience age-related cognitive decline.
Skin Disorders
It is said to aid in the development of hair, skin, and nails. In India, it is used to treat eczema, psoriasis, abscess, hair loss, and ulcerations.
Plant Description
A small, creeping herb, Brahmi has numerous branches, is succulent, and roots at the nodes. The leaves are petiole, oblong, sessile, and fleshy. The pretty flowers on Brahmi are purple and solitary. It grows naturally in wet soil, shallow water, and in marshes. If plenty of water is available, then it is easily cultivated. It is used a lot in fresh water aquariums. The fruit and flowers of this plant appear in summer. The entire plant can be used for medicinal purposes.
How to Use
You can prepare Brahmi as a tea infusion, tincture, or decoction. It can be sweetened with honey. It is used in salads, soups, and pickled in India. It is very bitter in flavor. Asia uses bitter foods to strengthen the heart, digestive system, and the endocrine systems. The endocrine system is made up of several glands that are important to a person’s well-being. They release hormones that have different functions that could influence one’s height and body build, sexual activity, estrogen production in women and testosterone in men, mental sharpness, energy, ability to respond to stress, blood pressure, secretion of insulin, T cell manufacturing which takes on the roll of destroying cancer cells, plus many other metabolic functions. You could put a few sprigs of Brahmi into a sandwich, swallow it fast, and remind yourself that it is good for you. The bitterness will only linger on your taste buds for a short period of time.
How to Take It
It is recommended that a person take three to four grams a day of Brahmi. This is about six sprigs of a stem that is 10 centimeters long with leaves. Brahmi can be dried, cut or powdered and put in capsules, and swallowed if a person has problems swallowing anything bitter. If you are going to take it in powdered form, then it is recommended that you take one to two grams a day. It should be taken at least one to three months to show any significant effect.
Side effects of Brahmi
Even through the extensive studies, Brahmi has yet to show any long term side effects. In a double blind study it was shown that there is a slight chance of experiencing dry mouth, nausea, and muscle fatigue; however, not every participant experienced these symptoms.
Possible Interactions
You will want to consult your physician about possible interactions of Brahmi with any other medications you are taking. So far, the only possible drug interactions are with Perphenazine, Prochlorperazine, and Thioridazine.   One study showed that when taking Brahmi with these medications, their effects were enhanced. It is recommended that until further studies are done, people taking these types of medications called pehnothiazines should not take Brahmi.

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