A creeping marsh plant, brahmi is all kinds of good for your brain. It is also an adaptogen – which means it helps your body cope with both physical and mental stress.
The leaves are especially valuable with their arsenal of health-promoting compounds. Here’s a quick look:
Though the bacosides steal most of the limelight for brahmi’s health benefits, we can’t ignore the fact that medicinal herbs are a lot more complex than isolated compounds. Different components support or keep each other in check, a necessity for their efficacy and safety.
Why It’s So Great
1. Improves Memory
Brahmi is like a breath of fresh air for the nervous system. The brain, being a crucial component of this system, benefits the most – particularly in terms of memory.
Brahmi increases the nervous crosstalk in the brain’s memory center, the hippocampus. More communication is always a plus. Bacosides A and B seem to be the most involved. Here are their major strategies:
- Protein kinases: To record new information, there needs to be enough “flexibility” or neuroplasticity in the brain. It helps rewire brain cells to store more and more information in different ways.
Protein kinases are enzymes crucial to neuroplasticity. They intercept at various points of a traveling nerve signal, controlling if, when, and where the rewiring can take place. Brahmi nudges protein kinases to work harder.
- Serotonin: The emotions you feel during an experience determine how much and what you remember of that experience. Serotonin is a nerve-signaling molecule that helps regulate your emotions, often helping you feel more and, thus, remember more.
Brahmi ensures your brain has enough serotonin, better consolidating your memories. It stimulates the serotonin synthesis enzyme (TPH2) and increases inter-nerve serotonin transport.
- Dendrites: Like branched arms stretching out, nerve endings called dendrites bridge nerve cells. They help carry nerve messages forward. Brahmi helps dendrites grow and branch out more, creating a wider neural network with stronger connections.
- Blood circulation: Brahmi increases blood flow to the brain without increasing blood pressure. This is mediated by nitric oxide, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels. More blood flow to the brain means more oxygen and nutrients for the brain to use.
- Antioxidant protection: The brain is a mass of nerve cells, which are extremely vulnerable to highly reactive molecules called free radicals. Free radicals can be knocked off by antioxidants. Unfortunately, nerve cells are naturally low in them and may not be able to deal with a sudden upsurge as seen when disease strikes or as we age.
Fortunately, not only does brahmi’s bacosides work as antioxidants, they also fire up your brain’s own antioxidant enzymes.
NOTE: You don’t need to be losing your memory or be exceptionally forgetful to benefit from brahmi’s memory-enhancing effects.
2. Reduces Stress and Anxiety
We often make mountains out of molehills when it comes to stress, imagining more than there really is. There’s even a term for it – perceived stress. Brahmi not only reduces perceived stress but also controls your reaction to stress at a molecular level. It doesn’t take too long to work.
Its bacosides reduce the stress hormone cortisol and amplify two “happy” signaling molecules, serotonin and dopamine. Serotonin is associated with feelings of peace, while dopamine is associated with mental energy and motivation.
3. Strengthens Immunity
You can’t even begin to imagine your immune system’s daily workload. Invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites are constantly trying to enter and wreak havoc in your body.
Brahmi can offer your immune system a hand and take on some of that load.
- Increases antibodies: Antibodies are bullets fired at invaders by immune cells. Brahmi increases the production of three particular antibodies IgA, IgG, and IgM, making your internal defenses stronger.
In case you’re wondering, IgA helps fight allergies, IgM is an all-time front-line trooper, while IgG is the body’s most abundant antibody.
- Increases SOS signals: As immune cells fight invaders at an attack site, they also send SOS signals to call in immune cells from other parts of the body. These signals are carried by chemical messengers called cytokines. Brahmi regulates cytokine production in the spleen, an important immune system junction.
4. Eases Pain
If you generally experience body pain or have an identifiable trigger for pain like an injury, brahmi may do you well.
Prostaglandins are hormone-like chemicals that cause inflammation, swelling and pain. Brahmi can help reduce inflammation by suppressing the enzyme that synthesizes prostaglandin, COX-2.
Have about 250–500 mg brahmi powder once or twice daily. It’s best to have it with food or ghee (clarified butter). The fat in cooking oil and ghee will help your body absorb the powder better. It will also reduce the chances of ending up with an upset stomach.
Importantly, give the herb time to work.