13 Health benefits of Bacopa (Water Hyssop)

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13 Health benefits of Bacopa (Water Hyssop)

Bacopa Quick Facts
Name: Bacopa
Scientific Name: Bacopa monnieri
Origin Wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America
Shapes Capsule ovoid-acuminate or slightly beaked at the apex
Taste Slightly bitter
Health benefits Immune System Booster and Prevents & Treats Stomach Ulcers
With the scientific name of Bacopa monnieri, this tropical, perennial, non-aromatic creeping herb has been admired in Ayurvedic and traditional medicines across the world for generations. You may also know it by other different name, such as water hyssop, baby tears, Jalnaveri, Jalanimba, Sambrani chettu, Nirbrahmi, Indian Pennywort, thyme-leaved gratiola, Bacopa, Babies tear, Bacopa monnieri and Hespestis monniera, Herb of Grace, but among them brahmi is the most common name. This particular creeping herb is native to the wetlands of southern and Eastern India, Australia, Europe, Africa, Asia, and North and South America. Bacopa is a medicinal herb used in Ayurveda, where it is also known as “Brahmi”, after Brahma, the creator God of the Hindu pantheon.

Plant Description

Bacopa is a tropical, perennial, non-aromatic creeping herb, rooting at the nodes, with numerous prostrate branches, each 10-30 cm long. The plant grows to about 2-3 feet in height while its branches creeps horizontally covering the ground. It is found growing throughout tropical and subtropical regions of the world and grows well in wetlands, muddy shores and near the ponds, bogs gardens, and can even grow in rather brackish conditions. It prefers moist conditions in undrained soil conditions. It grows well in clay, sand, cinder, organic, and coral soils. The plant has decumbent or erect stems that are hairy or smooth.

Leaves

Leaves are succulent, oblong, 0.6-2.5 cm long, 3-8 mm broad and 4–6 mm (0.16–0.24 in) thick. Leaves are oblanceolate and are arranged oppositely (opposite deccusate) on the stem. Lower surface is dotted. When the leaf is crushed with fingers it has a nice lemon scent.

Flower

Flowers are small, pink, purple, and white colored. It blooms all year round. The small, actinomorphic flowers have four or five petals. Corolla is about one cm long, pale, lobes 5, oblong, obtuse, sub equal, with purple tips.

Fruit

Fruit of the Bacopa plant is a capsule ovoid-acuminate or slightly beaked at the apex. Seeds are oblong, truncate, longitudinally ribbed with transverse striations in between the ribs. The fruit does not have distinct odor and is slightly bitter in taste. Bacopa has great value in Ayurvedic medicine, mainly used as brain and mental tonic to treat Alzheimer disease, memory loss, insanity, insomnia and other mental illness.

History of Bacopa (Brahmi)

Bacopa monnieri was perhaps one of the first plants discovered and used for medicinal purposes in Ayurvedic medicine because it requires no processing. Over 3000 years ago (or more), ethnic people must have started experimenting with the plants around them and found bacopa monnieri to be a powerful tool to enhance their cognitive abilities.

While these ancestors did not have the tools at their disposal to test whether bacopa monnieri was working or not, they found through trial and error that many people responded well to the plant. Thus, this creeping marsh plant became one of the more popular tools for improving brain health no matter what level of society one came from.

Even today, Indians from small villages have access and use bacopa monnieri in order to improve brain health from a young age.

Health benefits of Bacopa

Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri is a very well-known medicinal herb. It is used in Ayurveda for centuries. Brahmi is useful in nervous disorders, bronchitis, fever, swelling, abdominal pain, and flatulence. Brahmi has stomachic, digestive, rejuvenative, anti-epileptic, anti-pyretic and analgesic activities. Listed below are few of the health benefits of bacopa

1. Respiratory Benefits

When brahmi is brewed in a tea or chewed as normal leaves, it helps to boost your respiratory health. It has been used in Ayurvedic treatments for bronchitis, congestion, chest colds, and blocked sinuses. It helps to clear out excess phlegm and mucus and relieve the inflammation in the throat and respiratory tracts to provide you rapid relief.(1)

2. Improves Mental Function

Regular use of bacopa is quite helpful to improve your mental performance and cognitive function. According to the University of Michigan Health System, its leaves consist of bacosides, which help to improve learning, memory and overall mental function. Research of healthy individuals who took bacopa for three months found that the accuracy of their memory improved, and small studies of children in India found that taking 1,000 milligrams per day of bacopa improved memory, reaction time and observation. But another study of 76 people aged 40 to 65 years found that taking bacopa had no impact on restoring memory and only slight improvement in retaining new information.

3. Cognitive Boost

One of the most appreciated benefits of brahmi is its ability to encourage the mind, mainly in terms of memory and concentration. It has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine to increase focus and increase retention. Certain organic compounds in brahmi encourage cognitive pathways in the brain to boost cognitive ability.(2)

4. Immune System Booster

When consumed in any form, tea leaves, or otherwise, it can give the immune system an essential boost. Small amount of nutrients is supplemented by the antioxidant compounds to increase the response time of our immune system against pathogens, viruses, or bacterial infection.(3)

5. Prevents & Treats Stomach Ulcers

Bacopa is quite beneficial for preventing and healing stomach ulcers, as well as protecting your gastrointestinal tract. It helps to stimulate the production of mucus in the gastrointestinal tract and appears to protect stomach cells. Another action that helps to prevent and treat ulcers is bacopa’s ability to relax the muscles that control the intestinal blood vessels, according to animal research.

6. Anxiety and Stress

Leaves of the Bacopa can be chewed (only 2-3 at a time) in order to relieve stress and anxiety. The active ingredients in brahmi can effect hormonal balance in the body and positively impact the balance of stress hormones in our body, thus inducing a calm, relaxed state in a natural way, avoiding the side effects of traditional pharmaceutical options for stress and anxiety relief.(4)

7. Eases Depression

In case you are suffering from depression, taking bacopa is quite beneficial. Bacopa boosts the effects of certain neurotransmitters, including serotonin and acetylcholine. This effect on neurotransmitters helps to enables bacopa to decrease depression symptoms. Several animal researches of bacopa’s effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression have produced positive results, finding that bacopa was nearly as effective as common prescription depression medications, but without the side effects. However certain human studies failed to find any anti-anxiety benefits from taking bacopa.

8. Antioxidant Content

Bacopa consists of huge amount of antioxidants that are essential for supporting a healthy lifestyle. Antioxidants help to eliminate free radicals, the dangerous byproducts of cellular metabolism that can cause cells to undergo apoptosis (cell death) or mutate into cancerous cells. Antioxidants also prevent certain types of cancer; research is continuing into the direct pathways that its components take to prevent or slow the spread of cancer.(5)

9. Epilepsy

Bacopa leaves have been used as a treatment against epilepsy for thousands of years. This is due to the effect brahmi has on neural pathways, and it helps to prevent epileptic fits, as well as other forms of mental disease, including bipolar disorder and neuralgia.(6)

10. Digestive Issues

Bacopa is a calming, soothing and anti-inflammatory herb and help in providing relief from gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers etc.(7)

11. Treats Respiratory Conditions

Bacopa help to treat or relieve symptoms of certain respiratory ailments, including allergies and asthma. It helps to relax the bronchioles, which often become inflamed or irritated from respiratory conditions. Bacopa extracts also relax the blood vessel muscles around the respiratory airway passages, notes the University of Michigan Health System.

12. Skin Health

If you want to speed up wound healing and disinfect the skin at the same time, spread brahmi juice or oil on the affected area. It helps to reduce the appearance of scarring and leave you with smooth, healthy skin enriched with its natural essential oils.(8)

13. Blood Sugar

In some research studies, brahmi has been linked to increased blood sugar levels, so depending on your particular symptoms of diabetes, bacopa may be able to help improve your hypoglycemia and allow you to live a normal, healthy life.(9)

Ayurvedic benefits of Bacopa

  • Swelling: Make thick paste of Bacopa Monnieri leaves juice with melted petroleum jelly. Apply it as an ointment over affected areas.
  • Fatigue: Take 200 ml fresh plant juice of Bacopa Monnieri. Boil with same quantity of Ghee. Have one tsp twice a day.
  • Fever: Mix one teacup each of plant juice of Bacopa Monnieri and ghee. Boil it. Drink 5 ml twice a day.
  • Flatulence: Boil 200 ml Fresh plant juice of Bacopa Monnieri with 200 gram ghee. Take one tsp twice a day.
  • Insanity: Boil Bacopa Monnieri juice with ghee by taking them in equal proportion. Have 1 tsp per day for few days.
  • Bronchitis: Take fresh juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves and ghee in equal proportion. Boil them. Take 5 ml twice a day.
  • Constipation: Boil Bacopa Monnieri plant juice with ghee. Take one tsp twice a day. Use it for few days.
  • Cough: Crush Bacopa Monnieri plant. Boil it to make poultice. Use it on chest for half an hour. Repeat it, for few days.
  • Neuralgia: Extract juice from Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Mix it with molten petroleum jelly. Apply on the affected areas when bearably hot.
  • Rheumatism: Mix Bacopa Monnieri leaves juice with molten petroleum jelly. Apply on affected areas when bearably warm.
  • OR: Mix leaf juice of Bacopa Monnieri with paraffin wax. Apply on affected parts.
  • Alzheimer: Massage the scalp with Bacopa Monnieri oil. This oil is easily available in the market.
  • Grey Hairs: Massage your scalp and hairs using Bacopa Monnieri oil. Use it twice a week.
  • Memory Enhancer: The Nootropics property of Bacopa Monnieri helps to enhance the memory and concentrations.
  • OR Grind dried Bacopa Monnieri herb to make powder. Consume 5 grams of it with a glass of milk, twice a day.
  • Epilepsy: Boil leaf juice of Bacopa Monnieri with classified butter. Take 4 ml of it twice a day.
  • Arthritis: Warm the leaves of Bacopa Monnieri. Apply castor oil on it. Bandage them over painful joints.
  • Liver Disease: Take 4 to 5 leaves of Bacopa Monnieri. Soak in half glass of water overnight. Add 2 Almonds and grind. Mix little sugar and milk. Drink it once a day.
  • Nervine: Soak 4 to 5 leaves of Bacopa Monnieri in water overnight. The next morning, grind the leaves with 2 Almond and one teaspoon of Sugar. Add milk in it. Drink it once a day.
  • Elephantiasis: Make a paste of Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Apply it on affected parts for half an hour twice a day.
  • Abscess: Prepare a paste of Bacopa Monnieri leaves by adding little water. Apply on affected parts twice a day.
  • Skin Diseases: Take 2 teaspoons juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Have it with Cow’s milk and juice apply on affected parts too.
  • Stomach Problems: Extract the juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Take one teaspoon twice a day.
  • OR For Kids: Apply Luke warm juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves over abdomen area.
  • Bruises: Take fresh Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Grind them with little water. Apply paste on affected parts twice a day.
  • Baldness: Bacopa Monnieri gives healthy roots to the hair and prevents hair fall.
  • OR Make a paste of fresh Bacopa Monnieri leaves. Apply it on scalp for an hour. Wash with Luke warm water.
  • Stammering: Massage warm Bacopa Monnieri oil on your scalp and leave it for around an hour. Then take a bath with warm water. It is quite beneficial remedy for Stammering.
  • Nootropics: The juice of whole plant has nootropics properties. It also provides tranquilizing effect.
  • Brain Disorders: Mix fresh juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves and ghee in equal proportion. Have 1 teaspoon per day.
  • Poor Concentration: Extract the juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves by grinding and squeezing them. Take 1 teaspoon of the juice 2 times a day. You may also add honey to improve the taste.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Extract the juice of Bacopa Monnieri leaves by grinding and squeezing them. Take 1 teaspoon of the juice 2 times a day. You may also add honey to improve the taste.
  • Dysentery: Grind dried Bacopa Monnieri leaves, cumin seeds and sugar to make a fine powder. Consume 1 teaspoon of its mixture.
  • OR In case of Children: Apply the paste of Bacopa Monnieri leaves to the child’s vael.
  • Nervous disorder: Take dried Bacopa Monnieri herb powder, snow lotus root powder and honey in a ratio of 5:4:6. Consume it once a day. It cures Nervous debility.
  • Leprosy: Take Bacopa Monnieri fresh leaves and dry them in shade. Grind it to make a fine powder. Consume 3 grams of this powder, times a day.
  • Improving memory, intellect and mental function: For enhancing brain function it can be taken alone as leaf extract in dose of 100-300 mg or combination with other herbs. There are various such herbal syrups, tablets are available in market. It is important to take regularly bacopa for more than three months for its positive effect on brain.
  • Inflammation, gout, rheumatism: Mix juice of Bacopa plant and molten petroleum jelly in 1:2 ratios. Apply this on affected areas.
  • Cough, cold: Boil whole plant of Brahmi. Tie in a cloth to form poultice. Apply this on chest and repeat frequently.

Other Traditional uses of Bacopa Plant

  • It is used as treatment for epilepsy, asthma, ulcers, tumors, gastroenteritis, ascites, enlarged spleen, anemia, inflammations, and leprosy.
  • An alcohol extract of the whole plant has been shown to have anticancer activity against Walker carcinoma.
  • It improves mental function, memory and concentration, and also reduces learning time.
  • Plant contains the alkaloid brahmine, which has been shown to raise blood pressure when administered in therapeutic dosage, but to be hypotensive when given in very strong dosage.
  • Plant is used principally in the treatment of a range of nervous system disorders including neuralgia, hysteria, epilepsy, insanity, neurasthenia, aphonia and hoarseness.
  • Plant is also taken internally in a number of other conditions including indigestion, ulcers, wind, constipation, asthma, bronchitis and infertility.
  • Poultice made of the boiled plant is applied to the chests of children in the treatment of acute bronchitis and other coughs.
  • Juice made from the plant is applied as a wash on burns.
  • Bacopa has been used in traditional Ayurvedic treatment for epilepsy and asthma.
  • It is also used in Ayurveda for ulcers, tumors, ascites, enlarged spleen, inflammations, leprosy, anemia, and gastroenteritis.
  • Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to enhance memory development, learning, and concentration.
  • Crushed leaves have a calming quality on a variety of conditions, from joint pain and arthritis to epileptic seizures.
  • Juice from the Brahmi plant is used to treat the symptoms of fever.
  • Bacopa tea is taken to treat constipation and flatulence.
  • It is applied to the scalp to promote hair growth and prevent hair fall land greying hair. It is used to treat baldness.
  • Indian medicinal system uses Brahmi to treat the symptoms of leprosy.
  • In Indian medicine, the paste made from Brahmi leaves is applied on the affected parts for half an hour twice a day.
  • Extract from the leaves is also helpful for curing jaundice and fever.
  • It 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.
  • Brahmi juice can be used for the treatment of Spleen disorder. It also protects the liver, kidney and lungs.

Culinary uses

  • Leaves can be eaten raw in mixed salads or cooked as a vegetable.
  • Leaves can also be added to soups or pickled.
  • Flowers are eaten in times of food shortage.

Other Facts

  • Crushed leaves have a distinctive lemony scent.

Precautions

  • Most commonly reported adverse side effects of Bacopa monnieri in humans are nausea, increased intestinal motility, and gastrointestinal upset.
  • Taking Bacopa monnieri on an empty stomach may cause nausea, cramping, bloating, and diarrhea.
  • One should avoid using it while taking birth control pills.
  • During estrogen replacement therapy, it should be avoided.
  • Stop it if you are taking phenothiazine.
  • Too much consume of it leads to stomach discomfort.
  • One shouldn’t consume it above the doses of 2 tsp.

Dosage of Bacopa Monnieri

The proper beneficial dose of this herb can vary depending on what it is being used to treat. Those who are seeking an improvement to their cognitive brain function will find taking 300 milligrams a day is typically the best dose. Health care professionals caution users to take the herb no longer than twelve weeks though many take the herb on a daily basis and have found no major concerns with their health.

There are a couple of dosage options when taking Bacopa Monnieri. Those who do not like the taste of Bacopa will find the dried herbal capsules to be their best option for treatment. This allows them to take the herb without any taste.

Tinctures and extracts are often more effective because they are able to go directly into the bloodstream much faster. Once people grow familiar to the unique taste, they often prefer the liquid versions of the herb since they are able to notice the effects much faster. When in doubt, it can be helpful to consult with a doctor to determine which dosage amount will offer therapeutic results.

Homemade Bacopa Tea

One great way to get all these tremendous benefits is to try some bacopa tea. You’ll likely get an uplifting and relaxing effect from this tea. To make tea from the plant, you can add a few fresh leaves or a good pinch of dried bacopa to one cup of boiled water and allow them to steep up to 10 minutes. If you use fresh leaves, you can tear and bruise the leaves so the aromatic oils are released into the water. Strain off the infused water so the leaves don’t get in the way of your drinking.

It has a warming, woody and slightly bitter taste that can be made more palatable with the addition of some honey. If you opt to use fresh bacopa, at least one study shows that the use of the fresh plant material maximizes the concentration of its active saponins.

Recipe

Brahmi with Lentils

Ingredients:

Procedure:

  1. In a pressure cooker, pour 2 cups of water. Add the lentils and turmeric powder. Cook for about 10 minutes or until done. Set aside.
  2. Wash the greens with cold water. Make sure that the leaves are clean and free from dirt. Blend the leaves in a food processor or a blender until it becomes a coarse paste.
  3. Using a pan, heat the coconut oil and ghee on low-medium heat. Add the mustard seeds to the coconut oil and ghee mixture. Once the mustard seeds start popping, add the red chili, mung beans, chickpeas, asafetida, black lentils and cumin seeds.
  4. Add the bacopa puree and cook until the raw smell is gone. Add the Himalayan salt to taste.
  5. Add the cooked lentils and mix until thoroughly combined. If the mixture is too thick, feel free to add a little water until you get your desired consistency.
  6. Add lemon juice to taste. Serve.

References:

http://www.gbif.org/species/3171169/synonyms

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl/record/kew-2667648

https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=bamo

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=33038#null

http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/54626/

http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Bacopa+monnieri

http://www.cabi.org/isc/datasheet/112638

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacopa_monnieri

https://hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/CropFactSheets/bramhi.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bacopa

http://cms.herbalgram.org/herbalgram/issue91/HERBPRO_Bacopa.html?ts=1499835318&signature=1b7473d65c9a5ca7811db1975c122be0

http://indiabiodiversity.org/species/show/32964

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