Latin name: Bacopa monneira
Common names: Water Hyssop, Brahmi, Thyme-Leafed Gratiola, Coastal Hyssop
Ayurvedic names: Brahmi
Chinese names: Jia ma chi xian
Bangladesh names: Brahmishak, Adhabirani, Dhupkamini
Arabic names: البراهمي (al brahmi)
Rain Forest names:
Approximate number of species known:
Common parts used: Whole plant
Height: Less than 1 foot
Actions: Cognitive, Anti inflammatory, Anti ischemic, Anti convulsive, Anti allergic, Thyroid stimulant, Anti stress
Known Constituents: Bacosides A3, Alkaloids,saponins and sterols
Well known in India for at least 3000 years, the name Brahmi has also been given to Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) which sometimes leads to confusion.
Bacopa grows in shallow wet areas throughout Asia.
The leaves are very thick, opposite (picture) and oblanceolate (picture) or oval.
The tubular small white flowers have four or five petals. Sometimes the flowers have a small hue of blue on the outside of the petals.
A very powerful brain herb, hence it is also known as the “memory enhancer.” It is often used to combat senility, enhance memory, concentration and increase the capacity to learn. Thought to be effective when combined with other herbs for the brain in cases of dizziness.
It has been used for epilepsy, asthma, anti-anxiety, to reduce fats in the bloodstream, and alleviate stress and exhaustion.
Neurodegenerative Parkinson’s disease (PD) is associated with aggregation of protein alpha synuclein and selective death of dopaminergic neurons, thereby leading to cognitive and motor impairment in patients. The disease has no complete cure yet; the current therapeutic strategies involve prescription of dopamine agonist drugs which turn ineffective after prolonged use.
The present study utilized the powerful genetics of model system Caenorhabditis elegans towards exploring the anti-Parkinsonian effects of a neuro-protective botanical Bacopa monnieri. Two different strains of C. elegans; a transgenic model expressing “human” alpha synuclein, and a pharmacological model expressing green fluorescent protein (GFP) specifically in the dopaminergic neurons treated with selective catecholaminergic neurotoxin 6-hydroxy dopamine (6-OHDA), were employed for the study.
B. monnieri was chosen for its known neuroprotective and cognition enhancing effects. The study examined the effect of the botanical, on aggregation of alpha synuclein, degeneration of dopaminergic neurons, content of lipids and longevity of the nematodes.
The studies show that B. monnieri reduces alpha synuclein aggregation, prevents dopaminergic neurodegeneration and restores the lipid content in nematodes, thereby proving its potential as a possible anti-Parkinsonian agent. These findings encourage further investigations on the botanical, and its active constituent compounds, as possible therapeutic intervention against Parkinson’s disease.
Another study focused on the effectiveness of Bacopa monnieri Linn. for improvement of memory performance in healthy older persons. The trial took place in Lismore, NSW, Australia between February and July 2005. Ninety-eight (98) healthy participants over 55 years of age were recruited from the general population.
Participants were randomized to receive an extract of Bacopa monnieri called BacoMind(TM), 300 mg/day, or an identical placebo. Following screening, neuropsychologic and subjective memory assessments were performed at baseline and at 12 weeks.
Audioverbal and visual memory performance were measured by the Rey Auditory Verbal Learning Test (AVLT), the Rey-Osterrieth Complex Figure Test (CFT), and the Reitan Trail Making Test (TMT). Subjective memory performance was measured by the Memory Complaint Questionnaire (MAC-Q).
Bacopa significantly improved verbal learning, memory acquisition, and delayed recall. Bacopa versus placebo caused gastrointestinal tract (GIT) side-effects. It was concluded that Bacopa significantly improved memory acquisition and retention in healthy older Australians.
Jadiya P, Khan A, Sammi SR, Kaur S, Mir SS, Nazir A. “Anti-Parkinsonian Effects Of Bacopa Monnieri: Insights From Transgenic And Pharmacological Caenorhabditis Elegans Model Of Parkinson’s Disease.” 2011 October. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21925152
Morgan A, Stevens J. “Does Bacopa Monnieri Improve Memory Performance In Older Persons? Results Of Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Trial.” 2010 July http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20590480