A boon for memory: Bacopa Monnieri

Dr Deepti Sharma

Abstract
We know Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi for its effects on memory and hair growth. There have been many studies regarding the effectiveness of Bacopa monnieri as a neural tonic and memory booster. The following article aims at enhancing the knowledge about the homoeopathic aspect of this drug and its uses in other system of medicine as well.

Keywords- Brahmi, Memory tonic, Alkaloids, Homoeopathy

Introduction-

Bacopa monnieri is a perennial herb that grows along the ground and whose habitat includes wetlands and muddy shores. It has spatula shaped fleshy leaves and pale blue or white flowers on long slender stalks. Flowers are solitary, axillary, white or purple-tinged, with short pedicels and two bracteoles.1

Distribution- throughout India in wet, damp and marshy places2

Family: scrophulariaceae2

Common names- brahmi, water hyssop, thyme-leaved gratiola, and herb of grace3

Parts used- A homoeopathic tincture is made from the aerial parts when in flowers. It is covered by Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia by M. Bhattacharya & Co. and Encyclopedia of Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia by Varma & Vaid.1

Traditional use- Traditionally, it was used as a brain tonic to improve memory development, learning, and attentiveness, and to provide relief to patients with anxiety or epileptic disorders. In India, this herb has also been used traditionally to consecrate new born babies in the belief that it will stimulate the intelligence.3

Alkaloids

  1. monniericontains alkaloid brahmine, nicotinine, herpestine, bacosides A and B, saponins A, B and C, triterpenoid saponins, stigmastanol, β-sitosterol, betulinic acid, D-mannitol, stigmasterol, α-alanine, aspartic acid, glutamic acid, and serine and pseudojujubogenin glycoside. 4It contains alkaloid brahmine which has many similarities of action to that of strychnine.Another alkaloid, herpestine is useful for its action over the nervous system.Triterpenoid saponins and their bacosides are responsible for Brahmi’s ability to enhance nerve impulse transmission. The bacosides help in repair of damaged neurons by enhancing kinase activity, neuronal synthesis, and restoration of synaptic activity, and eventually nerve impulse transmission. Bacosides have anti oxidant properties thus neutralize free radicals and prevent fat molecules from reacting with free radicals thus blocking lipid peroxidation.5

Pharmacological action-
Nervine tonic, diuretic, anti-inflammatory, anticonvulsant, emmenagogue, blood purifier, rejuvenative, cardiotonic and memory enhancer.6

According to Ayurvedic medicine

Brahmi is a Sanskrit word which is derived from “Lord Brahma” or “Brahman”. Lord Brahma is the divinity responsible for all of the creative forces in the world and Brahman is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness. Brahmi literally means the energy (or “Shakti”)

Brahmi enhances the 3 basic components of mind which are: power of learning (Dhi), power of retention (Dhuti) and power of recall (Smriti). It has also been known for balancing and rejuvenating Pitta, while at the same time strongly reducing Kapha.  It enhances the quality of Sadhaka pitta which directly influences the nature of consciousness. It helps in all conditions with a deficient Majja dhatu; hence it is used in Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, ADHD, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, insomnia and depression7. It is also therapeutically effective for  epilepsy, insanity, and to enhance intellect.6

According to Unani medicine

According to Unani medicine, it is bitter, aphrodisiac, good in scabies, leukoderma, syphilis etc.

It is blood purifier and useful in diarrhea and fevers.3

According to Siddha medicine

The dried powder of this plant is given in the dose of 5-10 grams is given as brain enhancer, and kayakarpam. The leaves are dried and given along with milk for psychological disturbance and memory loss, mental retardation in small children and neonatal jaundice. The juice of the leaves are boiled along with ghee (Brahmi nei) and given for epilepsy, sour belching etc. The leaves are used along with oil as an external application for arthritis. The juice of the leaves is fried along with castor oil and used to give fomentation as well as applied as a paste over the swellings and arthritis. The leaves are applied as paste over the affected areas due to Gonococcal arthritis. With regular application of this paste the swelling and redness will get reduced.8

Homoeopathic use

It has significant influence on learning abilities. Anxiety, weakened memory, tension due to mental over work. It is mostly used as a tonic for absent mindedness and for a short, weak memory. It is also used for whooping cough.9Patients taking Bacopa say that they can better handle difficult mental tasks and stress. It improves the memory, increased learning abilities, protects the brain from effects of aging, alleviate anxiety, mental and brain fatigue and attention deficit disorders. The plant has also been used in India and Pakistan as a cardiac tonic.3Palpitation, feeling of whole body moving with beating of heart in morning after profuse menses.2Digestive aid.3Cramping pain around umbilicus with loose stool, aggravation- day time.2Improves respiratory function in case of broncho-constriction. Bacopa is bitter, pungent, heating, emetic, laxative and useful in bad ulcers.3Stool is watery, yellow- brownish, offensive.2Also used to treat anemia, ascites, enlargement of spleen, biliousness, indigestion, inflammations, leprosy, tumors, etc. It has also been used externally for growth of healthy hair, cooling and headache.3Character of headache is throbbing pain in head with heaviness, more on left side, aggravation stooping, moving about, light; amelioration- cold application, light pressure. Pain with heaviness in eyes with discomfort in neck.2

Relations 3
Compare:

  • Ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba)- Ginkgo extract has been studied for its role in preventing or slowing the onset of Alzheimer’s disease, with mixed results
  • Kali-p (phosphate of potassium)- conditions arising from want of nerve power, neurasthenia, mental and physical depression. Loss of memory. Brain fag from over work.
  • Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)- Gotu kola also has a relaxing effect on the central nervous system through increasing gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) which provides relief from hyper anxious states, decreasing corticosterone levels, improving memory and protecting the brain from degeneration. The plant conforms with the ‘doctrine of signatures’ as it has distinctive round leaves, often described as ‘brain-shaped’.

Potencies used-Mother tincture,96C, 30C, 200C.2

References

  1. P. N. Varma, et al., A Compendium of Rare and Clinically Established Mother Tinctures, 4th Edition, Dr. Willmar Schwabe India Pvt. Ltd., Noida.
  2. CCRH, Homoeopathic drug proving, Vol. 4, New Delhi, Abir print point, 2011
  3. Murphy R, Lotus Materia Medica, 3rd edition, New Delhi, B. Jain Publishers (P) Ltd., 2003
  4. Jeyasri R, Muthuramalingam P, Suba V, Ramesh M, Chen JT. Bacopa monnieriand Their Bioactive Compounds Inferred Multi-Target Treatment Strategy for Neurological Diseases: A Cheminformatics and System Pharmacology Approach. Biomolecules. 2020;10(4):536. Published 2020 Apr 2., https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7225932/#:~:text=B.,and%20pseudojujubogenin%20glycoside%20%5B7%5D.
  5. Chaudhari KS, Tiwari NR, Tiwari RR, Sharma RS. Neurocognitive Effect of Nootropic Drug Brahmi(Bacopa monnieri) in Alzheimer’s Disease. Ann Neurosci. 2017 May;24(2):111-122. doi: 10.1159/000475900. Epub 2017 May 12. PMID: 28588366; PMCID: PMC5448442.
  6. Hegde P.L., Harini A., A textbook of Dravyaguna Vijnana, 2nd Revised edition, chaukhamba publications, New Delhi, 2011
  7. CCA students, Brahmi: “herb of grace”, California college of ayurveda, 2013, september 10, https://www.ayurvedacollege.com/blog/brahmi/
  8. Amritjude D., Brahmi-herbal nervine tonic, Siddham, 2010, June 25, https://siddham.in/neerbrahmi-or-brahmi-bacopa-monnieri#:~:text=Actions%20%3A%20Nervine%20tonic%2C%20Anti-spasmodic%2C%20Sedative%2C%20Diuretic.%20Siddha,mental%20retardation%20in%20small%20children%20and%20neonatal%20jaundice.
  9. Boericke W. Boericke’s new manual of homoeopathic materia medica with repertory.3rd revised and augmented edition based on ninth edition. B.Jain Publishers, New Delhi. 2020

Dr. Shobha Teterwal H.O.D. (Dept.of Paed., SKHMC&RC)
Dr. Pranjli Agarwal Asst. professor (Dept.of Paed., SKHMC&RC)
Dr. Deepti Sharma MD Part I (Dept.of Paed., SKHMC&RC)
Dr. Prashant Singh MD Part II (Dept.of Paed., SKHMC&RC)
Dr. Debjani Debnath  MD Part II (Dept.of Paed., SKHMC&RC)

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