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Brahmi: Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, and more!

brahmi
Written by Dr Ashok Pal
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Introduction: 

Brahmi, also called Bacopa monnieri, belongs to the family Scrophulariaceae. It is a small, succulent ( stems adapted to store water), glabrous (smooth), creeping or prostrate (branches of lie just above the ground) annual herb.1It is also known as Herpestis monniera, water hyssop (small bushy) and is locally known as Jalanimba or brahmi in India. The term brahmi is derived from the word ‘Brahma’, which refers to  the mythical God of creation in the Hindu mythology .2 

Brahmi is primarily considered  as a revitalizing herb that has been used for nearly  3000 years by Ayurvedic medical professionals. As the brain is considered the centre of creative activity, any substance that improves the brain’s health is known as brahmi. It also means ‘bringing knowledge of the supreme reality”. Brahmi is a popular memory-booster among locals.2 

The common local names of brahmi are Neerbrahmi, Bamanevari in Gujarati; Jalnam, Birami, Brahmi in Marathi; Brahmi in Oriya; Bhahmi in Malayalam; Brahmibuti in Punjabi; Sambarenu, Sambrani in Telugu; Brahmi vazhukkai, Nirabrahmi in Tamil; Ondelaga, Mandukaparni, Nirubrahmi in Kannada, Manduka Parni in Hindi; Brahmi in Assamese; Kapotavanka, Sarasvati in Sanskrit; Thyme Leaved Gratiola in English.1 

Nutritional Benefits of Brahmi: 

The compounds in brahmi that are responsible for beneficial effects are saponin, alkaloids, and sterols.2 

Therapeutic Uses of Brahmi:  

The therapeutic uses of brahmi are: 

  • Analgesic property (pain killer) 
  • Anti-inflammatory property 
  • Anti-microbial property (kills microbes and bacteria) 
  • Anti-convulsant property (treats epileptic fits and seizures) 
  • Anti-depressant property (relives depression) 
  • Anxiolytic property (reduces anxiety) 
  • Anti-neoplastic property (treats cancer) 
  • Antioxidant property 
  • Liver protective property 
  • Immunostimulatory property (stimulates the immune system)3 
  • Sedative property 
  • Anti-ulcer property2 

Also Read: Pudina: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Benefits of Brahmi:  

1. Benefits of Brahmi for Stomach:  

The stomach-related effects of brahmi have been studied in lab, animal, and human studies 

  • Stomach ulcer: Various animal and lab studies have suggested that brahmi has a curative and protective effect on stomach ulcers. They have reported that brahmi relives ulcers.2 
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS): Lab studies have shown that brahmi has spasmolytic activity, and that it might be beneficial for relieving intestinal spasms and IBS.2 IBS is a chronic colon disorder and is characterized by diarrhoea or constipation, cramping (sudden contraction of muscles) stomach pain, and passing mucus in the stools.4  

2. Benefits of Brahmi for Brain: 

  • For cognition 

Some researchers have reported that the brahmi extract was found to reverse the cognitive deficits (loss of memory and thinking) in animal models. In a human study with old people of ages 45 to 65 years, it was seen that the rate of learning was unaffected, implying that brahmi reduces the rate of forgetting newly acquired information. Cognitive effects of Brahmi might be due to its antioxidant property.2 

  • For Sedation 

Some studies have found that brahmi extract and the extract of the whole plant have sedative and tranquillizing (reduces anxiety, tension, fear) effects on animals.2 

  • For anxiety 

In Ayurvedic medicine, the traditional use of brahmi as an anti-anxiety remedy is supported by both human and animal studies. In a human study, brahmi showed reduced the symptoms of anxiety, level of disability and mental fatigue, level of anxiety, and increase in memory span.2 

  • For epilepsy 

In Ayurvedic medicine, brahmi has be used as a remedy for epilepsy. The extracts of brahmi were tested on animals, where it was found to show anticonvulsant activity and showed protection against epilepsy in animals.2 Therefore, brahmi might be helpful in treating convulsions seen in epilepsy. However, human studies are required to confirm its anticonvulsant property 

3. Benefits of Brahmi for liver:  

In an animal study, brahmi was found to protect against drug-induced kidney and liver toxicity. It also shows strong activity  in maintaining the antioxidant system that might protect animals from drug induced liver toxicity.5 

4. Benefits of Brahmi for Cancer: 

Brahmi extract was tested for its anticancer property in various cancer cell lines and animal models. The cell line study suggested that brahmi has anticancer activity and mainly shows anticancer action by inhibiting the DNA replication. This prevents the cancer cells from multiplying and producing new cancer cells. Thereby, it slows the growth of the tumour.2 However, similar studies on humans are required to check the effectiveness of brahmi in humans as an anticancer agent. 

Also Read: Turmeric: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

How to Use Brahmi: 

You can use brahmi in: 

  • Powder form 
  • Syrup 
  • Infusion (prepared by soaking the herb in liquid)2 

Side Effects of Brahmi: 

Commonly reported side effects of brahmi include: 

  • Nausea 
  • Increased stomach motility (food moving from mouth to the throat) 
  • Stomach upset3 

Precautions to Take with Brahmi: 

  • For breastfeeding and pregnancy: There is no sufficient data regarding its usage during breastfeeding and pregnancy. Avoid taking brahmi or consult your doctor if you want to take brahmi during pregnancy or breastfeeding. 
  • Sedative: Because brahmi has sedative properties; it is advised to use with caution in combination with other known sedative medicines.2 

Interactions with Other Drugs: 

Lab and animal studies have shown that the extract of brahmi might enhance the effects of some drugs or might have a protective effect against some drugs and their harmful side effects.  

  • Brahmi was noted to decrease the toxicity of morphine (habit forming medicine used to relieve pain) and phenytoin (treat seizures) in animal studies.2  
  • The extract of brahmi enhanced the sleep caused by a common medicines phenobarbital (that relieves anxiety and cause sedation). Therefore, it should be used with caution when combined with other known sedatives.2 
  • Brahmi also promotes the activity of thyroid hormones in animal models at high dosage. Therefore, taking brahmi might interact with the thyroid hormone or drugs related to thyroid in the body.2 
  • Brahmi extract was also found to enhance the effects of chlorpromazine (which treats mental/mood disorders). Therefore, use with caution before taking brahmi.2 

Also Read: Babool: Uses, Benefits & Side Effects

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Is brahmi good for the brain? 

Yes, brahmi has beneficial effects on the brain. It has antidepressant, antianxiety, sedative and cognitive effects on the brain.2 

Are there any side effects of brahmi? 

Yes, brahmi has a few reported side effects, including nausea, increased stomach upset, and stomach motility.3 

Can brahmi be used during pregnancy? 

No,there is no sufficient data to support its usage during pregnancy. Therefore, avoid brahmi or consult your doctor in case of pregnancy. 

Does brahmi cause sleep? 

Yes, brahmi has sedative properties that help induce sleep.2 Some studies suggested that the extract of the whole brahmi plant have sedative and tranquillizing (reduces anxiety, tension, fear) effects on animals.2 Therefore, brahmi can induce sleep and may also be helpful for insomnia. However, human studies are required to confirm the effectiveness of brahmi on humans. 

Is brahmi good for hair? 

Yes, brahmi is a good hair tonic and encourages hair growth.6 

Can I use brahmi to get rid of grey hair? 

Yes, brahmi paste with lemon juice can be applied to the scalp. This mixture of brahmi and lemon prevents premature greying and gives good strength to the hair root.7 

You may like – Natural Home Remedies For Grey Hair

Can I use brahmi during breastfeeding? 

No, there is no sufficient data to support its usage during breastfeeding. Therefore, avoid brahmi or consult your doctor before taking brahmi. 

Does brahmi interact with the thyroid? 

Brahmi enhances thyroid hormone activity. Brahmi has the potential to interact with the thyroid hormone in the body. As a result, before taking brahmi, consult your doctor. .2 

References: 

1. THE AYURVEDIC PHARMACOPOEIA OF INDIA PART- I VOLUME – II [Internet]. 25–26 p. Available from: http://www.ayurveda.hu/api/API-Vol-2.pdf 

2. Gohil KJ, Patel JJ. A review on Bacopa monniera: Current research and future prospects. Int J Green Pharm. 2010;4(1):1–9. Available at: https://www.greenpharmacy.info/index.php/ijgp/article/view/111 

3. Aguiar S, Borowski T. Neuropharmacological review of the nootropic herb Bacopa monnieri. Rejuvenation Res. 2013;16(4):313–26. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3746283/ 

4. Irritable bowel syndrome [Internet]. Merrian-Webster Dictionary. [cited 2022 Apr 11]. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/irritable bowel syndrome 

5. Sudharani D, Krishna KL, Deval K, Safia AK P. Pharmacological profiles of Bacopa monnieri: A Review. Int J Pharm. 2011;1(1):15–23. Available at: https://www.pharmascholars.com/abstract/pharmacological-profiles-of-bacopa-monnieri-a-review-50874.html 

6. Dr. Mahtab Alam Khan. Concept of Cosmetics in Unani Sytem of Medicine [Internet]. National Health Portal. 2016. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/concept-of-cosmetics-in-unani-system-of-medicine_mtl 

7. Khan DMA. Greying of Hairs / Canities ( Sheeb ) [Internet]. National Health Portal. 2020. Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/greying-of-hairs-canities-sheeb_mtl 

Disclaimer: The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.

About the author

Dr Ashok Pal

BAMS, Rajiv Gandhi Education Society, Ayurvedic Medical College, Ron, Karnataka
PGDEMS, P. D. Hinduja Hospital & Medical Research Centre, Mumbai

Work Experience - 5+ Years

• He has immense clinical experience given her internships at RGES Medical College (1 yr).
• He has extensive experience having worked as a resident medical officer & intensivist for 5 years handling many critical and acute patients.
• He has worked at a COVID-care center managing admitted COVID patients.

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