Herbs Profile

Brahmi (Bacopa monniera)

Brahman is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness and Brahma is the divinity responsible for all ‘creative’ forces in the world. Brahmi literally means the ‘energy or shakti of Brahman (i.e. Sarasvati). With brahmi deriving its name from these roots it has a lot to live up to. And it does! Its mind enhancing and nervous system soothing effects are legendary.

Common name Bacopa (E), Herpestis (E), Jalabrahmi (H) Sanskrit Brahmı Latin Bacopa monniera–Folium (Scrophulariaceae)


  • Rasa (taste) Bitter, sweet
  • Vı-rya (energy) Cooling
  • Vipa-ka (post-digestive effect) Sweet
  • Gun.a (quality) Light, flowing (sara/laxative)
  • Dos.a effect VPK=, V+ in excess
  • Dha-tu (tissue) All tissues, especially plasma, blood, nerve
  • Srotas (channel) Circulatory, digestive, nervous, excretory


  • Saponins Steroidal bacoside A and B
  • Alkaloids Brahmine, herpestine
  • Flavonoids (Williamson 2002)


  • Va-tahara Calms vata
  • Anuloma Redirects the flow of vata downwards
  • Unma-dahara Reduces mental illness
  • Prajñas´aktivardhana Increases intellectual power
  • Hrdaya Heart tonic
  • Majja-dha-tu rasa-yana Rejuvenative, particularly to the nervous system
  • Ayus.ya vardhana Increases longevity
  • Balya Gives strength (especially to the mind)
  • Jıvanı-ya Promotes energy
  • Medhya Nervine
  • Nidra-janana Promotes sleep
  • Kusthaghna Alleviates skin conditions


Sedative, nervine, cardiotonic, antispasmodic, anticonvulsant, anti-inflammatory


Brain Brahmi helps to improve memory, learning ability and concentration. It is used in mental disorders, epilepsy (apasmara), mania and hysteria (unmada) (Astanga Hrdaya Samhita, Bone 2003). It specifically enhances the quality of sadhaka pitta and this directly influences the nature of consciousness.

Nerves Used to aid recovery from exhaustion, stress and debility with aggravation of vata. A specific herb for all conditions with a deficient majja dhatu. Consider using in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, depression and drug addiction. Brahmi is very useful in skin conditions with an underlying nervous imbalance (Bhavapraka´sa). It also benefits tension throughout the system helping to ease constipation from stress, relax muscle tightness and alleviate menstrual pain. It is commonly used to treat insomnia.

Urinary It can cool the heat of cystitis and pain of dysuria by guiding pitta out of the mutravahasrota.

External As a medicated oil it is a neuralgic in joint pain. Used as a head rub for headaches and to clear the mind. It is also used as a brain tonic to strengthen the memory and encourage hair growth (Paranjpe 2001).


* As it suppresses the appetite it should be used with digestive stimulants such as ginger or cardamom.

* Vacha with signs of high kapha to enhance its mind-opening effects.

* Gotu kola, jatamansi and tagarah as a sedative.

* Ashwagandha, kushta, kappikacchu, shankhapushpi and bala as a nerve tonic.

* Neem, manjishtha, turmeric for skin conditions with heat signs.

* Cumin, fennel and ajwan to relax the intestines.

* Cloves (2 parts), cardamom (1 part), pippali (1 part) as brahmi rasayana with 10 parts brahmi and 40 of sugar; use this as an anti-inflammatory and nerve tonic.


None known.


No drug–herb interactions are known but caution is advised with antiepileptic and antidepressant medication.


2–6g per day dried or 5–30ml of a 1:5 @ 25% tincture. The fresh juice is popular in India: 3 tsp per day.


  • It is a creeping annual and spreads along the banks of rivers as creativity and awareness spread throughout us. It is a water-loving plant.
  • Bacopa monniera is the authentic brahmi and preferred by vaidyas in treatment. It is also known as Jalabrahmi , ‘Water brahmi’.
  • It is often confused with gotu kola (Hydrocotyle asiatica), which is also generically known as brahmi in North India. Gotu kola’s other name is mandu kaparnı.
  • It is combined with ghee or milk to enhance its tonifying, nerve-nourishing and pitta-cooling effects.
  • Its cold nature can hinder digestion and so it is recommended to be used with agnı- dı-pana herbs to protect the digestive fire.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda


  • Among Bacopa and Gotu kola, which is more VPK balancing .
    my body type is Pitta, which is more suitable for me?

  • Among Bacopa and Gotu kola , which is more VPK balancing? I am a Pitta body type. Which is more suitable for me? ?

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