Bacopa

Bacopa

Bacopa, Bacopa monnieri, is a powerful adaptogen, antioxidant and nervine tonic used to enhance cognitive functions, memory, concentration and learning abilities. In Ayurvedic medicine, it is used to promote health and longevity (rasayana), to prevent stress and to treat several ailments.

FAMILY

Plantaginaceae (plantain family)

OTHER NAMES

Brahmi, barambi, nirabarhmi, thyme-leaved gratiola, water hyssop, herb of grace

PARTS USED

Herb (leaves and stems) and root

HABITAT

Bacopa is native to marshy areas thorough India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan and Vietnam. It can grow anywhere that remains frost free and wet.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Bacopa is a low, tender-stemmed perennial that thrives in water and forms large mats.

Height: Up to 15 cm (6 in)
Width: 30-60 cm (12-24 in)
Flowers: Small, pale blueish white, solitary with four to five petals.
Leaves: Small, oval, opposite, green, thick and succulent.
Blooms: Most of the year
Fruits: Long, containing small seeds

CULTIVATION

Bacopa thrives in high temperature and humidity and needs constant moist to wet soil.

Hardiness: Zones 8a-11
Space: 30-60 cm (12-24 in)
Soil: Marshy, damp
pH: Slightly acidic to neutral
Exposure: Partial sun
Propagation: Cuttings, seed and root division
Garden Design: Bacopa is a wonderful addition to the edges of a pond or in a bog garden where it can form a floating mat or groundcover.
Note: It can also be grown in containers, an aquarium or hydroponically.

HARVEST AND DRYING

Cut off some stems and place them on a flat surface in a well ventilated room to dry. When the leaves are crisp, store them in a airtight container away from light. Powder the dried herb when needed.

CONSTITUENTS

Triterpenoid saponins (bacosides, jujubogenin, pseudo-jujubogenin moieties, bacopasides)

PROPERTIES

Antioxidant, anxiolytic, nervine tonic, nootropic, anticonvulsive, antispasmodic, astringent, analgesic, bronchodilator, diuretic, purgative

ENERGETICS

Bitter, cool

TASTE

Bitter, sweet, astringent

ODOR

None

MEDICINAL USE OF BACOPA

Bacopa is a nootropic that is wonderful for memory, concentration and learning. It is an antioxidant and a nervine tonic good for nerve diseases, mental exhaustion, ADHD and anxiety.

This powerhouse is also a diuretic, a tonic for the heart and aids the digestive system. It is also helpful for asthma, bronchitis, hoarseness, cough, water retention and joint pain.

Ayurveda: a rasayana that pacifies kapha and vata doshas. Because it enhances cognitive functions, it is often found in Ayurvedic formulas to prevent stress. It is traditionally used in India for epilepsy, asthma, ulcers, tumors, anemia, inflammation, digestive problems. It is also consumed by school children in India.

Note: In India, both Bacopa monnieri and Centella asiatica are called brahmi. The ancient Ayurvedic texts refer to two different plants; Centella being sweeter with more tonic qualities and bacopa bitterer with more detoxifying qualities.

Used internally for:

  • memory and concentration
  • anxiety
  • mental exhaustion
  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity)
  • neuralgia
  • epilepsy
  • digestive ailments (indigestion, gas, constipation)
  • asthma, bronchitis
  • water retention

Recommended daily dosage:

Tincture: (1:5 or 1:2): 30-50 drops, three to four times per day.
Tea: Steep 1/2 tsp. of herb in half cup (125 ml) of hot water for 40 minutes. Strain and drink up to four times per day.

HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • tea
  • powder
  • syrup
CULINARY USE

Bacopa can be added to salads, sandwiches and soups.

SIDE EFFECTS

None

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

None known

Bacopa

References
Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press
Khalsa, K. Tierra, Michael. 2008. The way of Ayurvedic herbs. Twin Lakes: Lotus Press

Photo credit: Forest & Kim Starr

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