Bacopa monniera (Brahmi, water hyssop) is an Ayurvedic botanical medicine used to enhance learning, memory and attention span. It has been used for centuries in India as a treatment for epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and disorders of memory and attention. Brahmi has not been as widely researched in modern scientific studies as have other Ayurvedic treatments. Through case studies and long-standing Ayurvedic and naturopathic approaches, it’s worth noting that scientists are now interested in Brahmi as a therapeutic intervention for ADHD, Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) and age-related memory loss.

How Does It Work?
The way medications work, especially those that affect brain function, aren’t always fully understood by doctors. Brahmi is believed to have an effect on certain brain substances called neurotransmitters, which are involved in thinking, learning, mood, and memory. Some research suggests that Brahmi may have a protective effect on the cells, keeping them from either failing to function properly or helping them resist damage that can occur from infection, toxins, and the aging process. A few clinical studies with healthy adult participants showed an improvement in their ability to retain new information over a period of time. Improvements in memory have also been seen in children from a rural Indian village. Further studies, including long-term studies, are necessary to fully understand these effects in adults, young people, and for various health concerns.

Precautions
Be careful not to confuse Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with other natural medicines that go by the same name. It may interact with other medications. Consult your wellness practitioner to determine if Brahmi is appropriate for you, especially if you are pregnant, nursing or recovering from surgery or illness.

 

 

Resources

Mars, Bridgitte & Fiedler, Chrystle. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 2015.), 82.

Murray, Michael T. “Alzheimer’s Disease” as cited in Pizzorno, Joseph E. & Murray, Michael T. (eds.) Textbook of Natural Medicine (4th ed). (Churchill Livingstone. 2013.), 1196-1197.

Therapeutic Summary of Clinical Effects of Bacopa monnieri. WellCorps: http://www.wellcorps.com/Therapeutic-Effects-of-Bacopa-Monnieri.html

Group, Edward, DC, ND. Benefits of Brahmi (information for patients, with clinical citations linked)
http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/9-facts-brahmi-bacopa-monnieri/

Calabrese, Carlo et al. “Effects of a Standardized Bacopa Monnieri Extract on Cognitive Performance, Anxiety, and Depression in the Elderly: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 14.6 (2008): 707–713. PMC. Accessed 10 Nov. 2015 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3153866/pdf/acm.2008.0018.pdf

Roodenrys, Stephen, Booth, Dianne. et al. “Chronic Effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on Human Memory,” Neuropsychopharmacology 27 (2002): 279–281. Accessed November 10, 2015. doi:10.1016/S0893-133X(01)00419-5
http://www.nature.com/npp/journal/v27/n2/full/1395862a.html

Uabundit N, Wattanathorn J, Muci- mapura S, et al. “Cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective effects of Bacopa monnieri in Alzheimer’s Disease model.” J Ethnopharmacol. 127(1): (Jan 8, 2010), 26-31.

Russo, A., Izzo, A. A., Borrelli, F., Renis, M., and Vanella, A. “Free radical scavenging capacity and protective effect of Bacopa monniera L. on DNA damage.” Phytother.Res. 17(8): (2003), 870-875.

Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. “The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects.” Psychopharmacology 156: (2001), 481-4.

Bhattacharya, S. K., Bhattacharya, A., Kumar, A., and Ghosal, S. “Antioxidant activity of Bacopa monniera in rat frontal cortex, striatum and hippocampus.” Phytother Res 14(3): (2000), 174-179.

Sharma, R, Chaturvedi, C, and Tewari, PV. “Efficacy of Bacopa monniera in revitalizing intellectual functions in children.” J Res Edu Ind Med (1987), 1-12.

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