15 Lesser-Known Health Benefits of Brahmi
Used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine, Brahmi is undoubtedly the superstar of medicinal herbs. It is used for treating various physical and mental disorders and to support and enhance multiple functions in the human body. Scientifically known as bacopa monnieri, Brahmi grows in bogs and wetlands. It is known as Hyssop or Indian Pennywort in English and has various other names in the local languages of the places where it grows. But it is as Brahmi that this medicinal plant is universally known. The name Brahmi comes from Brahma, the Hindu God of creation. Brahmi is a small, creeping, succulent herb. It is slightly bitter in taste, non-aromatic and branches profusely. It has purple flowers and small oblong leaves. As it roots in the nodes and grows easily wherever enough water is available it can be cultivated quite easily. The entire plant is used for medicines. There are innumerable uses for Brahmi in Ayurveda, but it is best known for the benefit it has on the human brain and nervous system. It is believed to be a powerful ‘brain food’ and rejuvenates brain cells and revitalises the nerves in the brain. As it also improves blood circulation in the brain, it is said to delay the onset of senility in older people. It is popularly used as a memory enhancer and as a preventive and curative agent for anxiety. While some benefits of Brahmi are quite well known, there are others which are not common knowledge. Read on. 1. Boosts brain functions: Brahmi is said to enhance memory and increase focus. As a result, the ability to concentrate on a task goes up. A study conducted in Lucknow concluded that taking Brahmi extract for a period of 12 weeks improved the learning rate, cognitive processing and memory in the people who were given the extract as compared to the subjects who were on a neutral placebo. Brahmi has two active molecules named bacoside A and B. They are being studied to understand how they work as they are believed to be the elements that help keep the brain in a good condition. Bacoside A plays a part in the release of nitric oxide in the blood, which relaxes the blood vessels and aids in the smooth flow of blood through the body. Bacoside B is a protein which nourishes the nerve cells in the brain and helps in restoring and rejuvenating them. 2. Slows down brain ageing: Brahmi not only helps in keeping the brain healthy, it has also been found to prevent or slow down the ageing process in the brain. A research conducted in Australia found that older people who took Brahmi had better verbal learning, memory processing and retention as compared to people in the similar age group who did not take the same supplement. This confirmed traditional belief that the use of Brahmi helps keep peoples’ brains in better condition for longer. 3. Helps Alzheimer’s patients: Studies have shown that taking Brahmi for a period of six months helps patients of Alzheimer’s disease. Their condition showed improvement and their quality of life became better with a decrease in irritability and insomnia. They also showed improvements in attention and language in terms of reading, writing and verbal communication as well as awareness of time, place and person. 4. Reduces pain due to nerve problems: Brahmi can be used to treat pain due to nerve problems like sciatica and neuralgia. A paste made from Brahmi leaves mixed with a neutral carrier oil can be applied to the areas affected by the pain. This can be applied twice or thrice a day to get relief from the pain. 5. Enhances liver health: Brahmi is beneficial for the health of the liver. The liver is the main detoxifying organ in the body and is constantly at work due to the concentration of pollutants in our environment and chemicals and pesticides in our food. Taking Brahmi can reduce damage to the liver due to excess toxins and help the liver function more efficiently. 6. Reduces dependence on opioids: People suffering from chronic pain are prescribed morphine and oxycodone to manage the pain. These drugs are highly addictive. The bacosides present in Brahmi are believed to help increase the pain-relieving effect of these drugs while reducing the “high” that they give. Therefore, the dependence on the drugs decreases. Bacosides also protect the organs of the body from opiate toxicity and damage. 7. Fights redness and swelling: Any irritation or inflammation in the body causes redness, swelling, pain and itching. Autoimmune diseases are one of the causes of this type of painful swelling as are insect bites and other external injuries. Research that is ongoing supports the theory that Brahmi can be helpful in fighting this kind of redness and swelling in the body and the brain. Data emerging from this research seems to be indicating that Brahmi could be used in managing chronic discomfort due to inflammation caused by auto-immune disorders. It is also good for people who suffer from arthritis, rheumatism and backaches. 8. Normalises blood pressure: Brahmi has been known to increase the utilisation of nitric oxide in the body and encourage vascular muscle (muscles of the blood vessels) function. Both these functions are important to have a normal blood pressure in the body. Nitric oxide relaxes the blood vessels in the body making blood flow easier and smoother. Consequently, it helps maintain optimum blood pressure. 9. Has powerful antioxidant properties: Brahmi is an anti-oxidant and protects the cells of the body from damage due to oxidation. It reduces the oxidation of fats in the bloodstream thus protecting against cardiovascular diseases. It also destroys free radicals in the blood and helps restore damaged cells. It improves antioxidant activity in organs like the kidneys. The anti-oxidants help to dispel toxins from the body, especially from the epithelium of the skin layer, thus improving complexion and stimulating skin cell regeneration. 10. Helps relieve stress and anxiety: Brahmi is an excellent antidote to stress and anxiety. It soothes and calms anxious thoughts and panic attacks. Brahmi works by stimulating the neurotransmitter hormones dopamine and serotonin in the brain. This brings about a feeling of peace and wellbeing. Brahmi is not an instant cure and works over time to control the substances that cause stress in the brain. It is a long-term but effective adaptogen which helps the body adapt itself to stress and function optimally under all circumstances. Brahmi is also helpful in post-natal depression. 11. Relieves constipation and digestive problems: Brahmi is quite effective as a home remedy for irritable bowel syndrome. It can also relieve constipation and promote digestion of food. Massaging Brahmi oil on the abdomen can alleviate gas pain and facilitate the passing out of gas from the stomach. 12. Purifies the blood: Brahmi is a good blood cleanser and improves blood circulation. A spoonful of the juice of Brahmi mixed with cow’s milk is said to cure impure blood in children. 13. Provides joint pain relief: The anti-inflammatory properties of Brahmi make it a great cure for joint pains. Affected joints can be gently massaged with Brahmi oil to alleviate the pain. Brahmi oil can provide relief from other kinds of pain as well, such as headaches, body aches and so on. 14. Promotes growth of hair: Brahmi is one of the best agents for promoting the growth of hair. It also helps in curing other common hair problems, such as hair fall and premature greying of hair. Brahmi oil in combination with amla is the best oil for healthy hair. It can be massaged in as a hot oil massage and left in the hair for a short while and then washed off. Brahmi works in many ways to improve the condition of scalp and hair. It cools the scalp, reduces dandruff and dry scalp, relieves itchiness and irritation of the scalp. It also strengthens hair roots by providing nutrition to the hair and its antioxidant properties protect hair from free radicals. Regular application of Brahmi oil will make hair healthy in a few weeks. 15. Source of vitamin C: Brahmi leaves are rich in vitamin C and can be used in soups and salads. Vitamin C is an important part of nutrition. Higher levels of vitamin C in the blood is a marker of good health. Brahmi has a good supply of this vitamin in its leaves and consuming the leaves (with minimal cooking as vitamin C is destroyed by heat) can boost the intake of this vitamin and provide a good quantity of the required daily dose naturally. Brahmi can be used both orally and topically. Orally it can be used in the dried and powdered form as well as in the form of an oral pill. There are many sellers in the market offering Brahmi in both these forms. Brahmi oil is used topically. The leaves or powder can be steeped in a carrier oil like coconut oil, sesame oil or ghee and applied where required. Brahmi oil is also available in the market as body oil and hair oil. Brahmi can be easily grown at home. It should be available at garden centres in most places. To grow at home, a shady area with partial sun exposure is needed. Normal garden soil is fine. Regular watering is required as the plant naturally grows in wet areas. Brahmi has been known to grow in aquariums as well. Download the Grow Fit app on Google Play or App Store today for a free consultation with our specialists.
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