Brahmi is a plant that has been used in traditional Indian medicine (Ayurveda). Be careful not to confuse brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with gotu kola and other natural medicines that are also sometimes called brahmi.
Brahmi is used for Alzheimer’s disease, improving memory, anxiety, attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), allergic conditions, irritable bowel syndrome, and as a general tonic to fight stress.
People also take brahmi to treat backache, hoarseness, mental illness, epilepsy, joint pain, and sexual performance problems in both men and women. It is also sometimes used as a “water pill.”
How does it work?
Brahmi might increase certain brain chemicals that are involved in thinking, learning, and memory. Some research suggests that it might also protect brain cells from chemicals involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
Possibly Effective for:
- Improving memory. Some research shows that taking specific Bacopa extracts (KeenMind; BacoMind) improves some measure of memory in otherwise healthy older adults. Also, taking Bacopa extract seems to improve some measures of memory and hand-eye coordination in children aged 6-8 years.
Possibly Ineffective for:
- Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Bacopa appears to be no more effective than a sugar pill in keeping IBS symptoms from returning after remission.
Insufficient Evidence for:
- Anxiety. Early research suggests that taking 30 mL of Bacopa syrup daily for 4 weeks reduces symptoms of anxiety, including nervousness, racing heart,trouble sleeping, headaches, tiredness, difficulty concentrating, and stomach discomfort.
- Epilepsy (seizures). Early research suggests that taking Bacopa extract for 5 months prevents seizures in some people with epilepsy.
- Mental illness.
- Joint pain (rheumatism).
- Sexual problems.
- Fluid retention.
- Other conditions.
The following doses have been studied in scientific research:
- For improving memory and thinking: a dosage of 300 mg (2-3 capsules) Brahmi extract per day for 12 weeks. Specific Brahmi extracts (KeenMind; BacoMind) have been used in studies.
Bacopa extract is POSSIBLY SAFE for adults when taken by mouth appropriately and short-term, up to 12 weeks. Common side effects include increased bowel movements, stomach cramps, nausea, dry mouth, and fatigue.
Special Precautions & Warnings:
Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking Bacopa if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.
Slow heart rate (bradycardia): Bacopa might slow down the heart beat. This could be a problem in people who already have a slow heart rate.
Gastrointestinal tract blockage: Bacopa might cause “congestion” in the intestines. This might cause problems in people who have a blockage in their intestines.
Ulcers: Bacopa might increase secretions in the stomach and intestines. There is concern that this could worsen ulcers.
Lung conditions: Bacopa might increase fluid secretions in the lung. There is concern that this could worsen lung conditions such as asthma or emphysema.
Thyroid disorders: Bacopa might increase levels of thyroid hormone. Bacopa should be used cautiously or avoided if you have a thyroid condition or take thyroid hormone medications.
Urinary tract obstruction: Bacopa might increase secretions in the urinary tract. There is concern that this could worsen urinary obstruction.