A Brahmi Tailam Shot for the Brain
By Sheela Rani Chunkath | Published: 17th November 2013 06:00 AM |
Many ayurvedic preparations have been formulated to keep your body and mind functioning effectively.
I was as usual surprised that our Ayurvedic Vaidyars had chanced upon Brahmi that support mental function. In Ayurvedic medicine, Brahmi is classified as a Medhyarasayana, meaning a drug which helps with memory and intellect.
With people living longer, failing memory is something that needs to be addressed. Keeping a cool head in times of stress is also something to be strived for when many of us have deadlines and targets.
Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri is the ‘brain’ herb of Ayurveda. Recent research also seems to validate the ayurvedic claims of the herb’s ability to affect the brain functions. In traditional ayurveda, Brahmi was used to treat psychosis, epilepsy, dementia and anxiety.
Today the herb is used as a supplement to improve memory and has even been endorsed by the likes of Viswanathan Anand, the chess maestro who is currently in Chennai playing Magnus Carlssen in the World Chess Championship. Of course, Anand does not say that he personally benefitted from Brahmi. While I am not a great advocate of administering Brahmi so children can do better in their exams or play chess better, Brahmi does have alakaloids, saponins and bacosides which have haemolytic, cardiotonic and sedative properties.
It is said to relieve nervous irritation and agitation. Brahmi is associated with improving the cognitive functions. While many ayurvedic formulations of Brahmi can be taken internally, my favourite is Brahmi Tailam an oil made from Brahmi.
Brahmi is not to be confused with Centella asiatica which is called vallarai in Tamil and which is also associated with memory improving properties. Centella asiatica is used for making chutneys and is very edible. Brahmi or Bacopa monnieri on the contrary is bitter and cannot be used in culinary preparations.
However, Brahmi is used to make a very cooling oil for external applications. This oil is a speciality of IMPCOPS, the Indian Medical Practitioners Co-operative Society. IMPCOPS has been trying to popularise Unani, Siddha and Ayurvedic preparations by preparing drugs with authentic raw materials. Except for a few formulations most of their preparations are derived from the classical texts of Indian Medicine.
Brahmi Tailam is their in-house preparation made from the juice of Brahmi (400 gm) and the juice of amalaki or Indian gooseberry (400 gm). A soft paste is made from 60 gm each of Terminalia chebula or haritaki (called kadukkai in Tamil), Jatamanshi (nordus roots) and patra (cinnamon leaves) 25 gm of chandana (sandalwood) is also ground with the above paste. If anyone is interested in making this tailam at home, it is simple to make. To the juice of Brahmi and Amalaki, add the paste of the four ingredients in the amounts listed above. Add the mixture to 800 gm of sesame oil and 3200 ml of water. The mixture of oil, paste and water is boiled till the water completely evaporates. The oil is then filtered and cooled. Brahmi tailam is now ready. The tailam is applied externally on the scalp and is said to be cooling. It is also said to improve memory and is in general beneficial for the whole person.
So this is the oil to apply on your head to de-stress and cool down both literally and figuratively.
The writer was earlier Health Secretary, Tamil Nadu, and is currently Additional Chief Secretary, and Chairman and MD, Tamil Nadu Handicrafts Development Corporation. She can be reached at Sheelarani.firstname.lastname@example.org. Earlier articles can be accessed at www.arogyamantra.blogspot.com