Botanical name: Bacopa monnieri
Nature of herb
Brahmi has been used for more than 3000 years, as a medicinal plant in India. The use of Brahmi in India can be traced back to the Vedic age and the herb also finds its mention in the Atharva Veda. The usefulness of this plant is also quoted in the Charaka Samhita. Bacopa monnieri is commonly called Brahmi in Ayurvedic medicine, Jal Brahmi in Unani medicine, Pirammi Valukkai or Neer Brahmi in Siddha medicine and by numerous vernacular names such as Thyme leaved Gratiola, Water Hyssop(in English), Brahmishak (in Bengali), Bhunimbuti (in Punjabi) etc. The Sanskrit name Brahmi means “expands consciousness”. A famous ‘medhya’ drug in Ayurveda, Brahmi is used as a memory vitalizer and a nerve tonic capable of revitalizing intellectual faculty. It is also capable of imparting youthful vitality and longevity. Bacopa is a genus of succulent spreading herbs, distributed in warmer parts of the world. Three species are recorded in India of which B. monnieri is the most important. Bacopa monnieri grows in moist and marshy places throughout India. It is abundant near on borders of water channels, wells and irrigated fields in all parts of India.
It is a creeping, perennial and succulent herb with rooting at the nodes.
The leaves are simple, fleshy, oblong-obvate, short and petioled. They are opposite in arrangement with a dotted lower surface.
The stem is obtuse-angular, prostrate and roots at the nodes.
Pale violet, solitary and borne on axially on long pedicels. Sepals and petals are five in number each being 0.4-0.9 cm long.
Fruit is capsule, fleshy and ovoid with two grooves with numerous small seeds.
Seeds very small in size and pale in color having an irregular shape.
It is a short duration annual herb commonly occurring in moist habitats and near edges of water sources throughout tropical and subtropical parts of the world.
While it more common at lower elevations, this herb can also grow at altitudes as high as 700-900 m in western and central Nepal. In Bangladesh, Bacopa occurs near coastal areas, fallow lands, and paddy fields while in China, it occurs near water, wet places, and sandy beaches below 1,100 m in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Yunnan Provinces; it also grows on the island of Taiwan. The suitable temperature range for encouraging results is 15-40 oC.
Clayey and loamy soils are best suited for its growth. Optimum pH range for the herb is 5-7.5.
- Brahmi is used as a nerve tonic to increase memory power and to ease a backache, mental illness, epilepsy, irritation in the bowel and joint pain.
- Being rich in Vitamin C, it can be used in soups and salads.
- An ointment made of the root is used for the treatment of elephantiasis.
- Dry leaf powder of Brahmi mixed with milk is helpful in the treatment of gonorrhoea.
- The extract from the leaves is also helpful for curing jaundice and fever.
- It is also used as a remedy for the dysentery in children.
- The leaf juice can also be used for increasing blood and enhancing the nervous system.
- It is used as a remedy for eczema and other skin diseases.
- It also can be used for the treatment of cholera, home remedies for piles and amenorrhea.
- Brahmi helps in the growth of the nails, hair and skin. With a combination of Tulsi, Neem and Amla, Brahmi is used for nourishment of the hair and makes it thicker. It also makes hair longer. Applying the oil on the scalp is good to strengthening the hair follicles. Its massaging is beneficial in checking dandruff, itchiness, formation of split ends and flakes.
- Brahmi extract is used as a neurological tonic. It has neuro- protective properties. Brahmi juice balances psychological state and also helps in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
- Brahmi acts as a stress buster and mood elevator by the decreasing the level of cortisol hormone, which is the main culprit for stress. Taking the tea of Brahmi-Tulsi eases to cope up rough times.
- Brahmi leaves are used against arthritis and rheumatism.
- The extract from Brahmi leaves cure asthma, and bronchitis.
- The juice helps against indigestion. It is also used for leprosy and anaemia.
- Brahmi juice can be used for the treatment of spleen disorder. It protects the liver, kidney and lungs because of the presence of anti-oxidant which reduces oxidative damage, a type of cellular damage caused by free radicals.
- It can also help normalize blood pressure.
- Both the fresh juice and the paste made from leaves are applied topically to relieve the pain of inflamed joints, specifically caused by arthritis.
- In Nepal, the fresh juice is used to treat burns.
- In the Bhil tribe of Rajasthan, an application of boiled leaves is used on the abdomen of women who have recently given birth to relieve postnatal pain, while the warmed leaves are used as a poultice to relieve swelling.
- In Maharashtra, tribal inhabitants believe that stuttering can be improved by eating 5 leaves daily for a 1-month period.
- Brahmi oil is rich in bio-chemical compounds in the form of antioxidants. The massage with this oil treats temporary or permanent baldness.
The entire plant constitutes the drug which contains the saponins, bacoside A, bacoside B, monnierin, hersaponin. Hersaponon is bestowed with neuro- pharamacological effects. It also contains alkaloids like Brahmine and herpestine. Brahmine is a cardiotonic which can be toxic at high levels producing a fall in blood pressure. In theurapeutic doses, it resembles strychinine. Other constituents present in the plant are D-mannitol, betulic acid, ß- sitosterol, stigmasterol and its esters, heptacosane, octacosane, nonacosane, triacontane, hentriacontane, dotriacontane, nicotine, 3-formyl-4-hydroxy-2H-pyran, luteolin and its 7-glucoside. The presence of a-alamine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid and serine is also reported.
- Land preparation and fertilizer application
The land should be well tilled, weed free and should be planked to a uniform level. For optimum yields, 10 t/hectare of well-decomposed FYM along with vermicompost and poultry manure are required to be mixed in soil before planting.
Nitrogen (as poultry manure) is also required to be applied later in two split doses, after four to five weeks and six to eight weeks of transplanting.
- Propagation and planting
The freshly collected propagules (shoot cuttings) of 5–10 cm length bearing internodes and rootlets should be manually embedded in the soil at a distance of 5 cm × 10 cm in the well-prepared nursery beds followed by light irrigation. The propagules develop roots within a week of planting and are ready for transplanting in field in about 35–40 days.
The crop should be inundated with water, at 4–5 cm depth, throughout the growth period. Irrigation is needed either weekly or at intervals, depending on the type of soil and availability of water to maintain constant humidity in soil.
- Weed control
About three to four manual weeding sessions, at a 20-day interval, weeding is required to check the seasonal weeds in monsoon season (July to September).
- Disease and pest control
No pests, pathogens or pathogens have been reported to affect the crop seriously.
The crop can be harvested 75–90 days after planting, preferably during the month of September–October. Ideally, the crop should be harvested when plants attain a length of 20–30 cm. The whole plant should be pulled out or uprooted manually.
- Post-harvest management
The crop should be dried by spreading it on clean sheets in the sun for 4-5 days, after which shade drying is done for next 7–10 days. The dried material should be stored in clean containers. Bacoside content starts reducing after six months of storage. Therefore, long storage should be avoided.
Commercial UsesUses in Ayurveda:
- In Ayurveda system of medicine, it is used as a potherb in fever, hiccups, dyspepsia, urinary diseases, renal calculi, skin diseases and externally for washing ulcers.
- The juice along with milk is prescribed in a daily diet for promoting intellect and preventing aging.
- Fresh juice of Brahmi along with extract of Acorus calamus and Convovulus pluricalis are main ingredients of Pirami Ney (medicinal ghee) or Bhrahmi ghrita which in prescribed in convulsions, nervous debility, cognitive enhancement and poor memory. The ingredients of Bhrahmi Ghrita are: Pure Cow ghee : 640ml Fresh Brahmi juice : 3000ml Acorus calamus (powder) : 27 g Convovulus pluricalis (powder) : 27 g Indian costus root (powder) : 27 g
- Preparation: Mix all the ingredients and simmer the concoction until only ghee remains. Let it cool down completely and filter the ingredients using a clean cloth. Dosage: About 10 ml of Bhrami ghrita can be taken by adults once every morning on an empty stomach. Helpful for: anxiety, stress, nervine weakness, depression, gout, epilepsy and speech disorders.
- Fresh juice of the herb is prescribed to children for bronchitis and diarrhoea. Paste is applied as an external remedy for rheumatism.
- Brahmi juice along with ginger juice, sugar and bark extract of Moringa oleifera is given to children for relieving stomach problems.
- A poultice is made by boiling the plant is applied to chest for relief from chronic cough.
- It is the principal ingredient of classical Ayurvedic preparations like Brahmighritam and Brahmirasayanam.
- In Unani system of medicine, it is used as a nerve tonic and the herbs oil extract is used for treating skin diseases and itching.
Uses in Siddha:
- In the siddha system of medicine it is used to relieve joint pains, swelling, peripheral neuritis, constipation, chest congestion and mental retardation.
Other medicinal uses:
- Extracts of Bacopa are used in medicinal preparations such as Mentat, Mentat-DS, Anoxcare, Brahmi tablets and syrups as nervine tonics. The oil is used in preparation of hair tonic for nourishing the follicles and thus promoting healthy hair growth.
- Agriculture techniques of selected medicinal plants, Vol-I by National Medicinal Plants Board (Dept of Aayush)
- Indian herbal remedies by C.P. Khare
- Medicinal Plants – Alice Kurian and M. Asha Shankar.