Brahmi (Bacopa Monnieri) is a well-known Ayurvedic herb. It is the most important nervine herb of Ayurvedic medicine and has been favorite of yogis for meditation practice since Vedic times. Brahmi benefits are enormous but it is exceptionally valuable in enhancing learning and memory.
Brahmi known as Indian pennywort in English is often confused with Gotu kola (Centella Asiatica). But these both plants are quite different despite having several similar therapeutic effects.
Given that Brahmi is renowned brain tonic, it is especially given to infant and children for promoting brain growth, and specifically, for the development of cerebrum. Cerebrum performs higher functions like interpreting touch, vision, and hearing as well as speech, reasoning, emotions, learning, and fine control of movement.
Let’s delve deeper to see what makes Brahmi an unusual herb.
Indian Pennywort – All you need to know
Brahmi is a Sanskrit word derived from ‘Brahma.’ Brahma is a Hindu god who is responsible for the creation of this world. The literal meaning of Brahmi is the energy of Brahma i.e., creativity and intellect, which denotes the brain.
Brahmi is a succulent, spreading, and creeping herb with a green stem having numerous branches. It has small, oblong, fleshy and thick leaves dotted with tiny spots. Flowers are small, whitish or pale blue and usually longer than flowers.
It is found in abundance in wet soil near water sources. It can grow naturally in moist, wetlands, and marshy regions. It can also grow in water and is hence, is a popular aquarium plant.
Despite being an aquatic plant, Brahmi can be quickly grown even in pots under shade or under the full sun when provided with plenty of water. Brahmi is widely cultivated in warmer parts of Asia, Australia, America, Brazil, India, China, and South Africa.
The whole plant is used for medicinal purposes. It has a bitter-sweet taste with an astringent aftertaste. It is naturally cooling and has a sweet post-digestive effect. It is light to digest and tends to flow even in the minute channels of the body.
Brahmi shows a unique activity which cannot be explained even by its properties. It shows a unique ‘Medhya’ activity. Medhya indicates the ability of Brahmi to promote intellect, clarity of thought, memory retention, concentration, and cognition.
What are the Indian Pennywort benefits?
Brahmi is primarily used as a Rasayana, but it has myriads of actions owing to its therapeutic effects on six out of seven dhatus (body tissues). As it balances all three doshas; hence, it is capable of preventing as well as treating many conditions.
- Best Medhya (brain tonic) i.e., slows the aging process of the brain, enhances memory and thus keeps our brain healthy and young
- Improves the concentration by nurturing the neural tissues and hence is considered very helpful in practicing meditation
- Strengthens the overall functions of nervous tissues and shows a relaxing effect on the nervous system. Thus, widely used to treat epilepsy, mental disorders, anxiety, stress-related disorders, anger, etc.
- Acts as Rasayana i.e., revitalizes & nourishes all body systems, enhances immunity and increases the duration of healthy life
- Helps in all conditions with deficient Majja dhatu (bone marrow). Therefore, widely used in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, autism, Asperger’s syndrome, ADHD, depression, etc.
- Also acts as muscle relaxers and alleviates pain during menses and menstrual disorders
- Due to its Sattvic quality, it aids in giving up all bad habits and addictions like alcoholism, drug abuse, sugar addiction, etc.
It is one of the best blood purifiers and cleanses all sorts of toxins from the body. hence, it is also useful in skin conditions like leprosy, eczema, psoriasis, skin infections, boils, itching
- Acts as a diuretic by increasing both the frequency and volume of urination & cleanses the kidney. Due to its cooling effect, it reduces the fever, heat of kidney stones, pain while passing urine and expels vitiated pitta dosha out of body
- Calms and soothes heart muscles, prevents the chances of heart attack and is recommended in all heart disorders
- As it alleviates Kapha dosha, therefore, treats respiratory diseases, cough, hoarse voice
How to use Brahmi?
Brahmi can be taken itself but is often administered in combination with other herbs in the form of different formulations. It can be considered as powder, fresh juice, syrup, decoction, tea, pill, tincture, medicated ghee (most popularly used) and even raw leaves could be eaten.
As simple home remedies, you can use Brahmi in the following ways:
- Drinking Brahmi juice mixed with honey daily improves memory and intelligence
- Brahmi & Ashwagandha together when boiled in milk and taken before going to bed acts as an excellent brain tonic
- In reduced memory, two teaspoon Brahmi leaf juice with ½ cup of warm milk taken twice daily shows benefits within 15 to 20 days
- Massaging head with Brahmi oil strengthens memory and encourages hair growth
- A cup of fresh Brahmi tea with honey before meditation aids in its daily practice
- Brahmi, when taken with ghee or milk, nourishes nervous tissues and shows a cooling effect on the body
- In epilepsy, lightly warm two teaspoon juice and mix with ½ cup of milk. Drinking this mixture twice daily helps reduce epileptic attacks
- Panchagavya ghee (readily available in the market) mixed with Brahmi leaf juice alleviates the symptoms of epilepsy
- Ayurvedic texts mention that daily intake of Brahmi ghee cures insanity, epilepsy, leprosy and improves memory, speech & intelligence
- Five drops of Brahmi ghee in each nostril can be administered as Nasya for the treatment of mental disorders
- Daily massage of Brahmi ghee prepared with coconut oil or sesame oil on feet, joints, and ears before sleep treats anxiety and depression
- Brahmi Rasayana works as a nerve tonic and hence, can be used in all mental disorders
- Saraswatarishta, a formulation having Brahmi is widely used in the treatment of epilepsy and psychiatric disorders
- In difficulty, while passing urine taking a mixture of 2-3 teaspoon of leaf juice & 5-6 teaspoon milk helps to have clear and free urination
- Drinking milk boiled with Brahmi powder helps in treating kidney stones
Respiratory disorders in children
- In children having cough in the chest, 25-30 drops of juice with one teaspoon milk expels the cough
- A poultice made of boiled Brahmi plant is placed on the chest in problems like bronchitis, cough, chest heaviness in children
- Apply Brahmi paste to the neck in cough & pneumonia
- Consume Brahmi leaves fried in ghee to relieve hoarseness
- You may also chew Brahmi leaves along with long pepper and Chebulic myrobalan fruit
Pain & swelling
- Fresh juice of Brahmi leaves massaged on arthritic joints relieve of pain and swelling
- Apply Brahmi juice mixed with petroleum jelly in painful rheumatic arthritis
- The paste of Brahmi plant applied on inflamed part reduces swelling
- You can also take Brahmi Rasayana to lessen the swelling as it shows anti-inflammatory action
- Applying Brahmi oil also helps in joint pains and headache
- Two teaspoons of Brahmi leaf juice twice daily alleviates pain in joints
- For acne, mix Brahmi and turmeric in equal parts, add one teaspoon of warm milk and ½ teaspoon of ghee. Take this mixture twice a day for several days. It will reduce pitta dosha and makes skin bright and lustrous
- To treat skin disorders caused due to imbalanced pitta dosha Brahmi is taken with Margosa, turmeric, and Indian madder powder
Lightly warm 2-3 teaspoon of Brahmi leaf juice and then let it cool. Mix it with honey and take it three times in a day to get relief from sore throat
What is the recommended dose of Brahmi?
Ayurvedic texts recommend intake of 10-20 ml dose of Brahmi juice per day. If you are consuming Brahmi powder, then 5-10 g in a day is suitable.
50-100 ml of Brahmi decoction and 20 -30 ml daily dose of Brahmi syrup is advisable.
If you want to take pills of Brahmi extract, especially to boost memory, then adults should take 200-400 mg daily in divided doses. For children, a dose of 100-200 mg is recommended.
What do recent studies say about Brahmi?
- A study has suggested that Brahmi may be effectively exploited as a prophylactic as well as a therapeutic adjuvant for neuro-degenerative disorders involving oxidative stress
- Findings of a study found that butanol extract of Brahmi has potential beneficial effects in the treatment of morphine dependence
- As per a study Bacosine, a constituent of Brahmi shows insulin-like activity, and its anti-hyperglycaemic effect might be due to an increase in peripheral glucose consumption
- Brahmi extracts have been extensively investigated for their neuro-pharmacological effects, and number of reports confirmed their Nootropic effect i.e., enhances natural brain functions by stimulating nerve growth, increasing oxygen supply and glucose utilization to brain
Brahmi has justified its use in a wide variety of health problems since centuries. Especially its potential to treat mental disorders has intrigued researchers worldwide, and their researches have supported its safety and efficacy.
Brahmi is a plant which asks of very small place to grow but with sufficient water conditions. A small number of fresh leaves eaten daily will rejuvenate your mind and keep the brain healthy. As it primarily prevents and treats neurologic & psychiatric problems, we must understand the worth of this plant and include it in our day to day life.
In today’s stressful world Brahmi plant is undoubtedly a natural and inexpensive means to relax and recharge our ever-busy brain.