Bacopa monnieri – Brahmi (plant)
Bacopa monnieri is a perennial creeping herb of wetlands and river banks. Native to India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan and naturalised in many parts of the world, including Australia.
Famed in Ayurvedic medicine, brahmi has antioxidant properties. It has been reported to reduce oxidation of fats in the bloodstream, which is a risk factor for cardiovascular diseases. It has been used for centuries to help benefit epilepsy, memory capacity, increase concentration, and reduce stress-induced anxiety. It is listed as a nootropic, a drug that enhances cognitive ability. Wikipedia info on Brahmi.
Studies have shown that the herb contains many active constituents, including a number of alkaloids and saponins, however, the major constituents are the steroidal saponins, Bacosides A and B. A study is reported on the effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monniera) on human memory. Seventy-six adults aged between 40 and 65 years took part in a double-blind randomized, placebo control study in which various memory functions were tested and levels of anxiety measured. There were three testing sessions: one prior to the trial, one after three months on the trial, and one six weeks after the completion of the trial. The results show a significant effect of the Brahmi on a test for the retention of new information. Follow-up tests showed that the rate of learning was unaffected, suggesting that Brahmi decreases the rate of forgetting of newly acquired information. Tasks assessing attention, verbal and visual short-term memory and the retrieval of pre-experimental knowledge were unaffected. Questionnaire measures of everyday memory function and anxiety levels were also unaffected (Chronic Effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on Human Memory).
Care and Cultivation of Bacopa monnieri
Bacopa monnieri plants prefers a wetland situation, such as on the edge of a pond or dam. They can also be kept well in a pot, but tend to send out runners so make sure you give a wide pot as opposed to a deep one. Fertilise regularly throughout the year.