Brahmi for Brain Health
Brahmi is an ayurvedic herb well-known for its ability to boost brain functions and improve memory. This non-aromatic herb has been used in Ayurveda for centuries for conditions such as stress, anxiety, epilepsy and respiratory infections. It also goes by the name of bacopa, bacopa monnieri, jalabrahmi, water hyssop and herb of grace.
Why should you use brahmi for brain health? Brahmi is a powerful antioxidant that protects and rejuvenates the brain in a number of ways. Brahmi leaves are loaded with powerful bioactive compounds, of which the most important ones are bacosides (triterpene saponins) and alkaloids. All of these phytochemical compounds work in collaboration to deliver the health benefits brahmi is known to deliver. Interestingly, what makes it a truly amazing herb is that bacopa monnieri benefits go beyond supporting brain health. It has also been found effective in asthma, gout, arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome.
Let’s explore why brahmi is important for brain health.
5 Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi) For Your Brain
Brahmi is considered as one of the best herbs for brain health and it has been used as a powerful brain and nervine tonic for centuries in ayurveda. It is known to reduce age related cognitive decline and memory loss. It works in a number of ways to improve cognitive functions. The main bioactive compounds in brahmi – bacosides - make it a powerful anti-oxidant that protects brain cells from the oxidative damage triggered by free radicals. Oxidative damage is one of the most important and accepted factors that contributes to ageing and age-related health conditions. Brahmi also increases chemicals that help improve learning and memory. Initial research shows that brahmi also help to reduce the symptoms associated with Alzheimer's disease. Let’s discuss in details the benefits of brahmi for brain health.
1. Brahmi boosts brain functions
Brahmi is very effective in improving brain functions, as shown by human (and animal) studies highlighting that brahmi helps to improve memory, attention, and information processing ability. Two main bioactive compounds, bacoside A and bacoside B, stimulate the regions of the brain that are associated with learning, memory and recall. In fact, brahmi can improve all three aspects of memory; long term memory, short term memory and retention.
2. Brahmi helps relieve stress and anxiety
Brahmi is an adaptogenic herb, a class of herbs that supports your body’s ability to deal with stress. So, as an adaptogen, it reduces the effects of stress and anxiety. Brahmi improves mood and reduces the levels of cortisol, also known as stress hormone. Due to its adaptogenic properties, brahmi also boosts immunity, nourishes the nervous system, helps reinstate overall balance in the body and reduces fatigue. Again, it is the bacoside content in brahmi that makes it a useful herb in improving mood and reducing stress and anxiety.
3. Brahmi reduces ADHD symptoms
Brahmi aka Bacopa monnieri, has been found to reduce the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Studies show that brahmi supplements may help reduce ADHD symptoms such as hyperactivity, impulsivity, distraction, poor self-control and restlessness in children. [1-2] It also improves many aspects of memory, cognitive performance and ability to retain new learning.
4. Brahmi helps in sleep
Brahmi works as a nervine tonic that nourishes and calms the nervous system. It not only promotes sound sleep but as an adaptogen, it also reduces fatigue and exhaustion. While it improves memory, intellect and retention power as a brain tonic, it also relaxes, reduces mental strain and promotes feelings of calm, which supports healthy sleep.
5. Brahmi may help in Alzheimer’s and age-related memory loss
As we age, it is not uncommon to experience symptoms such as anxiety, distraction, restlessness and memory loss. Brahmi is very effective in managing these symptoms in older adults. In Alzheimer's disease, accumulation of abnormal proteins (beta-amyloid and tau) in neurons cause inflammation and toxicity in the brain, resulting in dementia and other behavioural symptoms. Research points out that bacosides in brahmi protects the brain from the oxidative stress, thus lowering neuroinflammation.  The herb may also prevent the aggregation of beta-amyloid. All these neuroprotective properties help manage age-related memory loss and reduce cognitive decline in old age.
Uses of Brahmi in Ayurvedic medicine
In Ayurveda, brahmi is known as a medha-rasayana herb, where “medha” means memory enhancing and “rasayana” means rejuvenating. Ayurvedic practitioners have been using Brahmi as a memory booster for more than 3000 years. It is acknowledged as one of the most beneficial herbs in Ayurveda for improving brain functions, in both adults and children. Brahmi is also used as a remedy to provide pain relief in conditions such as arthritis and gout. It works very well in soothing gastric ulcers and managing symptoms of other inflammatory conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome.
How long does brahmi take to work
Brahmi may take around six weeks to two months before you start noticing any significant benefit in terms of memory, focus and overall brain heath.
How to use brahmi leaves
Brahmi leaves (fresh or dry) can be brewed in water to make tea. You can also chew on fresh leaves. Using brahmi leaves in any of these ways is a great way to support respiratory health and get relief in cold, congestion and sinusitis. Brahmi leaves can also be tossed into salads or pound into a paste to extract juice. You can also take brahmi supplement made of dried and powdered leaves to enhance learning, memory and focus.
How to use brahmi powder for brain
2 gm of brahmi powder taken daily, and in divided dose, can significantly improve brain functions, memory and focus. You can take brahmi on an empty stomach as well as along with your meals.
How much bacopa monnieri should I take
One can safely consume 2 grams of brahmi powder daily.
What are the side effects of bacopa monnieri (Brahmi)
Brahmi is safe and well-tolerated by most individuals when taken in appropriate and recommended doses. Taking more than the recommended dosage may cause side effects such as headache, dizziness, stomach cramps, abnormal heartbeat (palpitations) and dry mouth. It is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or for women who are trying to conceive.
- Dave et al. An open-label study to elucidate the effects of standardized Bacopa monnieri extract in the management of symptoms of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder in children. Adv Mind Body Med. 2014
- Katz et al. A compound herbal preparation (CHP) in the treatment of children with ADHD: a randomized controlled trial. J Atten Disord. 2010
- Dubey T and Chinnathambi S. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri): An ayurvedic herb against the Alzheimer's disease. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics. 2019.