Brahmi: The Ayurvedic Memory Plant

Brahmi is a traditional medicinal plant from Ayurveda. It strengthens memory and could play an important role in preventing and treating dementia. All information about the intake and dosage of Brahmi – the small fat leaf – can be found with us.

Brahmi for a strong memory

Brahmi is the Indian name for the Bacopa ( Bacopa monnieri ). The plant has been used in Ayurveda for 3000 years to strengthen the brain and nerves.

The plant is also highly valued in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Brahmi is said to have an extremely positive effect on memory – not only in people with memory disorders but also in healthy people.

For this reason, Brahmi is also called the memory herb. Brahmi is also used in children and adolescents to improve attention and learning skills and to support therapy for hyperactivity.

Brahmi has a long tradition in Ayurveda

Ayurveda is India’s traditional holistic health system and has existed for 5000 years. The term Ayurveda means something like “science of life” or “wisdom of life” in Sanskrit (an ancient Indian scholarly language).

The term Brahmi comes from Hinduism. “Brahma” is the god of creation. And the members of the top caste are called “Brahmans” in the caste system of India. Formerly it was the duty of Brahmins to become scholars or priests. Derived from these two terms, Brahmi can be understood as “sacred” or “divine”. Scholars are said to use the plant to better memorize texts.

Brahmi: The Little Bacopa

Despite its widely used Indian name, Brahmi is by no means native to India, but wherever there is a tropical or subtropical climate with sufficient humidity. Bacopa prefers to grow in damp, swampy areas and therefore on the banks of water or near the sea. That can be in India, China, Africa, Australia, and North or South America.

In Europe, Brahmi can be grown as a houseplant or outside in a pot in the summer. The plant even feels at home in the aquarium.

Bacopa is characterized by green, thick leaves reminiscent of a succulent. The leaves contain bitter substances, which is reflected in the taste. However, the plant can also be eaten raw. However, it is also processed into powder, extract, or oil and can therefore also be taken as a dietary supplement.

The Effect of Brahmi

Recently, brahmi has been gaining popularity all over the world, which has brought the plant into the focus of science as well. Among other things, it works:

  • antioxidant
  • antimicrobial
  • antidepressant
  • liver protecting
  • cardioprotective
  • anti-inflammatory

Brahmi strengthens the brain

Above all, the positive effect of brahmi on the brain stands out: the plant is said to stimulate the renewal of brain and nerve cells. For this reason, it is being investigated whether brahmi could help with Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, memory, stroke, epilepsy, depression, and anxiety – i.e. diseases that have something to do with the brain.

In India, Brahmi has long been recommended and used to treat mental illness, epilepsy, insomnia, anxiety, and poor concentration.

Studies on rats have already produced promising results – as with many naturopathic remedies, there are still no large-scale clinical studies. However, the results of some clinical studies with a small number of participants are already available. In the next few paragraphs, we’ll go into more detail about some of them.

Brahmi in Alzheimer’s

Alzheimer’s is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by cognitive decline, memory loss, and disorientation. It is one of the most common and feared types of dementia.

Better memory performance through Brahmi

Brahmi may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s through its positive effects on memory, as suggested by several clinical studies (double-blind and placebo-controlled):

  • 60 people with an average age of 62 years took 300 or 600 mg of brahmi extract or a placebo daily for 3 months. The working memory of both Brahmi groups had improved after the 3 months compared to the placebo group.
  • 49 people over 55 took a daily dose of 300 mg of brahmi extract for 3 months. After 3 months, their memory performance had improved significantly compared to the placebo group.
  • 54 people, with an average age of 73 years, took either 300 mg of brahmi extract or a placebo for 3 months. The memory values ​​of the Brahmi group had improved compared to the placebo group. Her depression scores were also down.

There are many other studies of this type. It is true that the test subjects were (relatively) healthy older adults who did not yet suffer from Alzheimer’s. Nevertheless, the results are positive.

Because studies on Alzheimer’s rats confirmed the potential effect of brahmi in dementia and give hope that the effect on Alzheimer’s can soon be proven in human studies.

Brahmi in children with ADHD

Studies with Brahmi have also been carried out in children and adolescents with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder ( ADHD ):

We would like to go into a study by Indian researchers in more detail below: 13 ADHD children between the ages of 6 and 12 took two teaspoons of “Brahmi Ghrita” daily for 2 months in the morning on an empty stomach. “Brahmi Ghrita” is Brahmi with ghee (clarified butter). In Ayurveda, medicinal herbs are often prepared in ghee (sometimes boiled for hours) and then taken in this form.

The placebo group received daily Ritalin (methylphenidate) – the well-known ADHD drug. In both groups, the children were more attentive after the 3 months and some also improved their academic performance. There was hardly any difference between the two groups (not significant).

So the results show that Brahmi can indeed compete with a drug like Ritalin. While side effects such as insomnia and irritability often occur when taking Ritalin, taking Brahmi – apart from rare cases of digestive disorders – has no negative effects.

Brahmi strengthens the hair roots

Brahmi is also said to have a positive effect on hair growth and prevent hair loss by strengthening the hair roots. These beneficial effects, along with the plant’s memory-boosting properties, have led to brahmi being touted as an anti-aging herb.

Brahmi Oil and Brahmi Powder for hair

Brahmi oil and brahmi powder are available for external use. You can prepare a hair mask from the brahmi powder by mixing the powder with a little warm water to form a paste. Massage the paste and the oil into the scalp, leave it on for one to two hours, and then wash the hair thoroughly.

According to the manufacturers, the application to strengthen the hair roots should be repeated regularly (e.g. once a week) in order to show an effect. Please note, however, that no studies have yet proven the effectiveness of Brahmi in existing hair loss.

Brahmi Oil: Two variants

To make brahmi oil, either the brahmi extract is slowly heated in a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) or it is distilled from the leaves. The latter contains the concentrated essential oils of the plant and is correspondingly stronger and more expensive – a 7ml bottle of essential oil costs the same as 100ml of brahmi oil with a carrier oil.

A few drops of essential brahmi oil are sufficient for use on the head. It is best to also mix it with a carrier oil for better distribution. Steam distillation is considered a gentler process for extracting oil.

Application of Brahmi: intake and dosage

Brahmi is taken over a period of several months to allow the plant’s effects to unfold.

Taking brahmi capsules

In the studies presented above, the subjects usually took 300 mg of brahmi extract per day for 3 months. 300 mg is considered the middle dose. Many studies also used 300 mg of Brahmi extract twice a day.

Brahmi capsules contain either powder or extract. Brahmi powder is much less concentrated, which is why manufacturers recommend higher daily doses: Usually 600 to 1000 mg divided into two capsules.

Capsules with brahmi extract are rarely found (e.g. from Ayumeda), but are considered more effective due to the strong concentration. The Ayumeda capsules contain about 350 mg Brahmi extract per capsule.

The extract has a ratio of 1:25, which means that 1 kg of extract contains as many active ingredients as 25 kg of the fresh plant.

For the powder, on the other hand, the plant is only dried and ground. The ratio here is therefore only an estimated 1:10 since plants usually consist of around 90 percent water, which is removed during drying.

Taking Brahmi Powder

You can take 800 to 1000 mg of Brahmi powder daily – because it is not a pure extract, but the dried and powdered leaves of the Bacopa.

It is best to mix the powder in a glass of water. Since the bitter taste takes some getting used to, you can also add the powder to a juice or smoothie.

Brahmi is best taken on an empty stomach
It is best to take one brahmi capsule in the morning on an empty stomach and another before dinner. Since it should ideally be taken on an empty stomach, it is best to wait at least half an hour before eating.

You also drink the powder (mixed with water or juice) on an empty stomach and then wait half an hour before eating.

The use of brahmi in children and adolescents

Since clinical studies are not usually carried out with children and adolescents for ethical reasons, there is a lack of reliable knowledge about the dose and safety of the application. For this reason, you will often read the note on Brahmi preparations: “Children under the age of 12 should only take the dietary supplement after consulting their doctor or alternative practitioner.” For this reason, there are no recommended intakes for children.

However, we would like to point out that the use of Brahmi in children in the Ayurvedic health system of India is completely natural and that Brahmi, as you can read in the section “Side Effects of Brahmi”, is considered to be very well tolerated – in contrast to clinically tested medicines such as e.g. B. Methylphenidate (Ritalin), which has been shown to cause side effects.

Due to the lower body weight of children, we would use brahmi powder and start with a low dosage of, for example, one teaspoon per day. If our child tolerated the dose well, after a few weeks we would increase the dose to two teaspoons. Details can always be discussed with a suitably experienced naturopath or an Ayurvedic health advisor.

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