If a child faced trouble with maths or had difficulty memorising at school, the remedy given was simple—a spoonful of Brahmi in powder or paste form.
This therapeutic herb, known as a memory booster, an aphrodisiac and a health tonic that lowers blood pressure, reduces inflammation and improves concentration, among other things, is hardly mentioned today. However, in not knowing about it enough, we’ve kept ourselves away from its rewards.
The herb’s name is derived from Brahma aka the creator of the universe. It’s been used for a variety of reasons, including reducing anxiety, improving sleep, boosting brain health, hair loss, and skin disorders like abscess, eczema and even psoriasis.
“When consumed regularly, it strengthens the immune system too. The antioxidant compounds present in Brahmi supplement the nutrients extracted through food and help the body fight foreign bacteria or viruses.
"Chewing a few Brahmi leaves reduces the secretion of cortisol, the stress hormone,” says Ludhiana-based Garima Goyal, dietician and certified nutritionist. The herb reduces oxidation of fats in the body’s bloodstream and is good for cardiovascular health.
Brahmi is often used in cases of Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson’s, Epilepsy, and attention deficit disorder to boost cognitive health, memory, focus, and to reduce inflammation in the brain.
“The research behind this herb has shown that it has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Free radicals and oxidation are often seen as a side effect of inflammation in the brain of an Alzheimer’s patient and Brahmi is a power herb to halt or scavenge these free radicals to prevent further damage to the brain,” says Luke Coutinho, holistic lifestyle coach-integrative medicine.
The active ingredients present in it that lead to all these benefits are bacosides and betulinic acid, types of triterpenoid saponins or chemical compounds.
Bacosides are known to enhance nerve impulse transmission and repair damaged neurons, while betulinic acid is replete with anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties.
The nerve impulse transmission plays a vital role in promoting healthy cognitive functions like attention span, focus, concentration, learning and memory.
On your plate
You can add small quantities of the herb to your soup, salads, chutney powder or even roti dough or dosa batter.
Add a couple of leaves to your coriander chutney and you’ve given yourself a natural health supplement. Timare chutney, and Tambuli (a curd-based gravy) are popular dishes made from its leaves in the South.
“We often encourage our clients to use it in the form of tea by brewing a few Brahmi leaves in water with pepper and honey,” adds Coutinho.
It can also be added to lassi or neer mor. “Pesto is again a great way to consume this herb.
Sauté a tablespoon of onions with some garlic and a couple of chillies.
Add a tablespoon of walnuts and 1/2 cup of coconut milk and cook for a minute.
Cool this mixture and blend it along with a cup of Brahmi leaves and a pinch of hing. Toss this with cooked chilled rice noodles and you have a wholesome dish ready,” says Chef Vicky Ratnani.
Boost its power
“Brahmi combined with ghee works as a miracle. When used with neem, manjishtha and turmeric, it helps in skin conditions with pitta imbalance,” says Goyal.
Benefits of Brahmi
Good source of Vitamin C
Used to treat cough, bronchitis and asthma
Effective in regulating blood sugar levels
Known to provide relief from arthritis, joint pain and other inflammatory conditions
Provides relief from gastrointestinal disorders and problems such as indigestion and ulcers.
Antioxidant-rich and known to possess anti-cancer properties