Bacopa is more commonly known as Brahmi. ‘Brahmi’ derives from the word ‘Brahma.’ Brahma is the creator god in Hinduism.
Brahmi is mentioned in Hindu Vedas that date back 5000 years. Brahmi has a long history of use in Ayurveda medicine for brain health and enhancement. Buddhist monks ate Bacopa to help them remember large religious texts.
Native to Australia, India, China, Indonesia, Africa and the Southern Pacific Islands, Bacopa is a small creeping succulent that prefers damp swampy sites.
Brahmi is little known in Australia for its medicinal benefits and is more often identified as a weed.
I very successfully grow Brahmi in Sydney and find it an incredibly easy plant to maintain. I eat the leaves straight from the stem to help me enhance my mental capacity and to help me improve my memory.
Mental Health Benefits of Brahmi:
Brahmi may provide an extensive range of health benefits, from anti-inflammatory in treating bronchitis and asthma. We’ll focus on the benefits to memory and brain health.
Like its cousin - Gotu Kola, studies are establishing Brahmi’s enormous potential in cognitive enhancement (nootropics), for memory enhancement and stress relief. In addition, Brahmi may assist with healthy ageing, acting as a neuroprotective agent to ward off cognitive decline.
We covered neuroprotection, particularly for healthy ageing in my Gotu Kola blog. Brahmi’s neuroprotective capability is linked to its antioxidant properties.
Notably, Brahmi’s antioxidant effects have been observed in key areas of the brain, including the hippocampus, frontal cortex and striatum.
In another study, Brahmi improved memory functions, likely from ‘neuroprotective activity, antioxidant and mitochondria stabilising effects'.
For a millenia, Brahmi has been used in Ayurveda medicine to improve memory and learning function. More recently, studies have noted Brahmi’s performance on ‘working memory’ and increased energy.
In 2010, a study of ADHD reported the ‘significant improvements to attention, cognition and impulse control in a study of 120 children. Bacopa was one of the main ingredients of the formulation being tested.
In addition Brahmi has been used to treat anxiety, particularly in Ayurveda medicine. A trial of volunteers aged 65+ years, experienced reduced anxiety compared to the placebo group.
Brahmi in summary
Whilst virtually unknown for its medicinal benefits in Australia, Brahmi has a long history of use in traditional medicine, particularly Ayurveda medicine.
Like Gotu Kola, the potential of Brahmi to offer brain health and protection from degenerative diseases has attracted the interest of the science community around the world.
Conventional medicine offers few solutions to memory loss and aged related cognitive decline. Brahmi may provide a solution. Brahmi’s ability to enhance and protect memory may delay or mitigate the effects of neurodegenerative decline.Combined with anxiety relief, Brahmi is an herb that may provide an anecdote to the twin scourges of the 21st century - cognitive decline and stress.