This lovely herb with succulent leaves has a history of use in Ayurvedic medicine. In English, it's known as Indian Pennywort. In Indian, it's called Brahmi (INCI: Bacopa monnieri).
Today we're going to take a look at this plant, which is showing surprisingly promising results as an aid for improving memory in scientific tests.
Ayurvedic UsesTaken internally, Brahmi has been favored as a tonic for improving concentration and memory, and studies indicate it has a measurable effect.
Brahmi is also used to help fight inflammation, battle indigestion, and is an ayurvedic go-to for 'promoting a state of calm, rest, and sleep'.
To create brahmi powder the entire plant is used – dried and then powdered.
Applying an infusion or macerate with brahmi to the scalp is said to strengthen and promote hair thickness and growth as well as add a glossy shine.
Brahmi for Hair Care
Synergies: Brahmi's properties are boosted when combined with amla, henna, rhassoul and linden blossom. This last ingredient was a bit of a pleasant surprise for me to discover. I love the scent of linden, but from my research, I have been unable to find anyone assign any properties to linden other than 'great for perfumery'.
Used as an infusion, brahmi has a lovely, light, tea-like scent that does not compete with shampoo or other hair products. I've been using it as a final hair rinse for a few weeks now. It hasn't made any real noticable difference in the shine or gloss of my hair. I have, however, used a final rinse every day for ages, so it's probably fair to say a brahmi infusion works as well as my regular rosemary hair rinse.
Results So Far
A brahmi and rhassoul hair mask is on my 'must try' list.
Heralded as a tonic and anti-aging ingredient, brahmi is said to help 'brighten' the complexion while adding a soothing effect. I'm not sure how it can contribute a brightening effect unless combined with amla, but additional research may provide an answer.
Brahmi for Skin Care
Ideal for all skin types, brahmi is recommended for problem skin as well as well as an aid for minor injuries.
Synergies: Combine brahmi with manjishta and peony powders to create a skin soothing poultice or paste for minor injuries. Brahmi also works well with yarrow, roman chamomile, calendula, and lavender.
Brahmi macerate in almond oil can be used 'straight up' as body massage oil and – because the macerate tolerates the necessary heat to make emulsions – can also be added as part of the oil phase of a cream or lotion.
So far my use of brahmi has been as an infusion and solely in the hair, but I'm curious to do a macerate and see how it fares in a skin care product. The infusion is a dark chocolatey brown color – not my first choice for a skin cream ingredient. Even though the liquid doesn't stain, it looks like it could and it's a tad too dark to look appealing for a cream. A brahmi macerate (also on my to-do list) would hopefully be a lighter color.
More About BrahmiWebMd about Brahmi
Neuropsychopharmacology: Effects of Brahmi on Human Memory
Wikipedia - bacopa monnieri
Phytomedicine: antioxidant effects of brahmi (in vitro testing)
Photo by Forest and Kim Starr