Etymology is the study of words and how their meanings have changed through the course of time. Keeping accurate records for everything was almost impossible in earlier times and is an incredibly hard task even today. As such it is no wonder that a single word was used to describe multiple things and the other way around. You may know of Brahmi, an ancient Ayurvedic herb that our elders recommend for various situations. What you probably don’t know is that the word Brahmi is used to describe two separate herbs, both having deep Ayurvedic ties. Centella asiatica and Bacopa monnieri are the two well-known herbs that claim the same name. Both the herbs share a fair number of features and properties that may have resulted in confusion regarding their name. In the context of this article, however, Brahmi shall only be used while discussing Bacopa monnieri.
About the Indian Pennywort
English speakers know of the herb as the Indian Pennywort or Herb of Grace. This fragrance-free herb grows on marshy lands all over Europe, Asia, North and South America. Brahmi is even capable of growing in salty waters. Of the various benefits associated with the herb, their ability to improve memory and rejuvenate the mind is most impressive. In Sanskrit, the word Brahmi literally translates to “the energy of Brahma”. Being compared to the force responsible for the creation of the world is no mean feat! The potent rejuvenating property of the herb more than justifies its meaning. Brahmi also exhibits impressive anti-oxidant, stress-relieving, anti-inflammatory and immunity-boosting properties.
Properties of Bacopa monnieri
The herb is also capable of expelling toxins from the body, thereby protecting the neural network from damage. Regular consumption of the herb is also shown to positively affect an individual’s mood. It is capable of regulating the levels of the hormone cortisol in the body and thereby reduces stress and anxiety. Additionally, Brahmi is also able to:
- Helps with hair related problems. Massaging your hair and scalp with warm Brahmi infused oil helps is a classic Ayurvedic recipe to reduce dandruff, eliminate itchiness of the scalp and promote hair growth.
- Regular consumption of powdered Brahmi helps to boost memory, improve concentration and refresh the mind. The herb also provides clarity to the mind and calms the nerves.
- Brahmi is a natural skin tonic and helps to reduce dryness, and promotes wound healing.
- Slows down the effects of Alzheimer’s by promoting cellular growth and regeneration. This is due to the presence of the compound Bacosides in the herb which is extremely beneficial for all brain-related problems.
After having read so much about the fabled herb, you may be wondering “Well, how do we use Brahmi on a daily basis?” We got you covered! Mentioned below are a few simple, delicious and healthy recipes featured around the herb Brahmi. Most of the ingredients required are readily available and the recipes are pretty simple to follow, meaning even cooking noobs can cook them.
Recipe 1: Brahmi Raita
This classic cooling Indian dish requires 1 loose bunch of Brahmi leaves/20 grams of Brahmi powder, 1/4 th cup fresh coconut, 1/2 cup yogurt, salt, water, 1/2 teaspoon ghee, 10-12 peppercorns, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and1 teaspoon ghee. Take the ghee in a pan. Once it has heated, fry the peppercorns and cumin seeds until they slightly darken. Take the Brahmi, coconut, roasted peppercorns and cumin in a food processor and blend into a smooth paste. Add salt as per taste and use water when needed while grinding. Take out the paste in a bowl and mix the yogurt into it. Finally, take some ghee in a pan and heat it. Add some mustard and cumin seeds and lightly fry till they pop. Pour this over the Raita. Your Brahmi Raita is ready to be served.
How to Use: This delicious dish pairs well with hot rice. You could water the dish down a little to change the consistency while eating it after meals.
Purpose: In addition to being a well-rounded side dish, the Brahmi Raita helps in promoting memory retention, regulating Blood Pressure, relieving stress and enhances immunity.
Recipe 2: Brahmi-Amla Hair Oil
This ultimate hair oil combines the goodness of both Brahmi and Amla to maximize hair rejuvenation and growth! To make the oil you will need 2 tablespoons Brahmi powder, 1 tablespoon amla powder, 100ml sesame oil, 30 ml olive oil and 20 ml castor oil. Take the Brahmi powder, Amla powder and Castor oil in a pan. Using the double boiler method, heat the oil mixed with the herbs for about two hours. Stir the mix for half an hour. After the oil has cooled down, add the olive and castor oil and mix well. You could also add chamomile and lavender essential oils in the final step if you have them lying around. Transfer the oil into a clean glass container and store away from direct sunlight.
How to Use: Warm the oil by placing the jar in a bowl of hot water for five minutes before using it. Apply the oil directly onto your scalp and massage your head so that the oil spreads well. Allow the oil to rest for an hour before washing out with shampoo.
Purpose: The Brahmi-Amla Oil Blend combines the regenerative properties of Brahmi with the vitamin-packed Amla to promote hair growth, prevent dryness of the scalp, reducing dandruff and dry hair and increasing the thickness of your hair.
Recipe 3: Brahmi Chutney
Chutneys are a fundamental part of Indian meals. Although they may seem insignificant, most meals feel incomplete without them. This Brahmi Chutney recipe is for all the foodies out there! You will need 1 cup Brahmi leaves, 1/2 cup Fresh coconut, 1-1/2 teaspoon White Urad Dal, 1 teaspoon Chana dal, 4 - 6 Dry Red Chillies, 1 pinch Asafoetida, Curry leaves, 12 grams Tamarind, Salt and2 teaspoon Coconut Oil. In a pan, heat some coconut oil. To it add chana dal, urad dal, red chilies, curry leaves and asafoetida and fry till the dal turns golden brown. Take the roasted mix in a blender and add salt, tamarind, coconut and Brahmi leaves and grind well. Add the required amount of water.
How to Use: Serve the dish alongside hot samosas, pakoras or paranthas. The Chutney also pairs well with rice dishes!
Purpose: This savory Chutney has the goodness of Brahmi in it. Consuming the dish is beneficial to your mind and immune system. The dish is particularly well suited to help in controlling blood pressure and sugar levels due to the presence of both Asafoetida and Brahmi.
As with most other things, too much of Brahmi may be harmful to your body. Excessive consumption of the herb may result in a dry mouth and throat, nausea, fatigue and indigestion.
If this article has inspired you to incorporate Brahmi into your daily schedule, but you don’t have the time to make a complicated dish, you could simply take the required amount of the Churna along with milk!
According to an ancient Arabic proverb “He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything”.
Let us keep healthy and stay hopeful for a better future!
Reference 1: Cognitive enhancement and neuroprotective effects of Bacopa monnieri in Alzheimer's disease model
Reference 2: Adaptogenic effect of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi)