The Bacopa genus includes about a hundred species of plants in warm regions, particularly in humid environment: rice fields, marshes, peat bogs, ponds.
Some are decorative plants especially for their abundant flowers and their ease of cultivation.
Bacopa monnieri is a plant from the hot and humid regions of Asia.
It is part of the Indian pharmacopoeia Ayurvedic and Unani since a long time.
It is an important plant in Indian medicine and as such bears a name similar to the fundamental god BRAHMA; it is not the only plant to be called BRAHMI, but it does testify to its ability to heal or to ensure good health.
Bacopa monnieri is a perennial, hairless plant that crawls on moist soil and get rooted as it grows.
It has opposite, very green, thick and succulent leaves .
Its flowers, white striped blue has 5 petals.
Bacopa supports brackish water.
This plant native to India, Nepal, Southeast Asia, South Asia has been introduced, not always voluntarily, in many tropical or temperate regions without frost:
- South of North America or Europe,
- Australia, Hawaii,
- West Indies (where it is called little veronica).
The whole plant is medicinal; it is his ability to IMPROVE MEMORY or learning and CALMING ANXIETY that is of interest.Flower and leaves details of Bacopa monnieri
CHEMICAL COMPOSITION AND PROPERTIES
BACOPA MONNIERI OR BRAHMI WHOLE PLANT
Herbal medicine uses the entire plant which contains:
- A small amount of ALCALOIDS, including Brahmin, which at high doses becomes toxic and causes cardiovascular disorders with hypotension.
- FLAVONOIDS: luteolin and apigenin (anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, anti-cancer on hormone-dependent cancers).
- SAPONOSIDES: Bacosides, which are the active and more specific parts of Bacopa.
Action of bacosides on the central nervous system
Bacosides are compounds with a triterpene structure (genins) associated with a carbohydrate (ose).
The dissociation of these molecules (in genin and carbohydrates) is done partly in the intestine.
The genins released are similar to the jujubogenins of the Chinese jujube tree and by hydrolysis become ebelin and bacogenin A1.
If I detail the fate of these bacopa saponosides after oral ingestion and digestion, it is because the in vitro experiments show that Bacopa bacosides traditionally considered pharmacologically active parts are actually very badly absorbed at the digestive level.
It is the genins (jujubogenin, ebelin and bacogenin A) released after digestion by the digestive enzymes or microorganisms in the large intestine which are absorbed by the body and act on the central nervous system (but their action is not not yet well known):
- They are ANTI-INFLAMMATORY, ANTALGIC and trap free radicals in certain parts of the brain that intervene in MEMORY REGULATION and learning.
- They can bind to specific sites of chemical mediators (muscarinic receptors and 5-HT) in the brain, thus modulating brain activity.
- There is IMPROVEMENT of MEMORIZATION and intellectual performances (related to the memorization) especially in persons who have a deficit of memory or disorders of attention: the elderly, following stroke, hyperactive child.
- BACOSIDES HAVE A SOOTHING, ANXIOLYTIC AND ANTI-DEPRESSING POWER.
TRADITIONAL USES OF BACOPA MONNIERI OR BRAHMI
BACOPA or brahmi is not part of the French pharmacopoeia and is not a traditional medicinal plant in France.
But it is a plant used since a long time in India especially by Ayurvedic doctors.
In the Ayurvedic tradition a single plant is rarely used but rather complex mixtures of plants sometimes with substances of mineral origin.
Brahmi is part of Ayurvedic medicines to treat:
- Certain disorders of the central nervous system: insomnia, memory loss, difficulty concentrating, intellectual fatigue.
- In case of digestive disorders: colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, constipation.
- Some dermatoses and dandruff disorders: psoriasis, eczema, hair loss.
- It is also used to treat respiratory conditions: bronchitis, persistent cough but also bronchial asthma.
- It is also a plant proposed in case of male impotence and libido disorders.
Examples of dosage :
- FRESH JUICES : crushed and pressed medicinal plants are traditional in India.
Bacopa contains more than 80% water and is therefore suitable for this preparation: one to two tablespoons or 5 to 10 ml per day.
It is bitter and therefore often sweet at will.
- Dry plant powder: 0.5 g to 1 g, 2 to 3 times a day, about half a spoonful or one teaspoonful 2 to 3 times a day.
USES OF BACOPA OR BRAHMI TO ENHANCE MEMORY, CONCENTRATION AND AS AN ANXIOLYTIC
The indications of bacopa extracts in Western medicine are:
- MEMORY DISORDERS in old people or people who have suffered a stroke.
- LEARNING DIFFICULTIES, problems of concentration and memorization both in young people and in the elderly.
- MINOR ANXIETY DISORDERS, nervousness and consequently difficulty in falling asleep.
The treatment should be prolonged, the effects are not felt for at least 3 weeks and a typical treatment lasts 3 months.
The positive effects on memory or anxiety may persist for several weeks after stopping treatment.
Drugs or "food supplements" offered mainly in English-speaking countries are most often Bacopa extracts standardized in bacosides (this can vary between standardization at 20% and 50%).
Example of dosage : 300 mg per day of bacopa extracts titrated at 50% bacosides.
In France we can now find in pharmacy bacopa arkocaps and a food supplement, " ILLUMINA " which combines bacopa extracts with astaxanthin of algae origin, a plant phospholipid and vitamin E (1 cp dosage per day). ).
Bacopa extracts are considered to be without significant toxicity at the recommended doses, but a 2014 study shows that they can inhibit the action of certain enzymes present in intestinal cells (cytochrome P450).
This inhibition can artificially increase the concentration and therefore the effects of various drugs including neuroleptics, antidepressants.
In some older people, bacopa extracts may slightly lower blood pressure (risk of malaise or dizziness).
CULTIVATION OF BACOPA MONNIERI OU BRAHMI
Bacopa thrives on moist soils or very shallow water, in a hot climate and in direct sunlight.
In India propagation is by sowing or, more often, by cuttings, at the very beginning of the monsoon, and the whole plant is harvested 4 to 5 months later.
The drying of this plant is delicate because of its important water content.
It is a plant that can grow in bioreactor, this allows to obtain plant tissues optimized for their content in active substances.
In temperate countries bacopa is used by aquarists and those interested in wet terrariums.
In countries where it is naturalized one can harvest the fresh plant and make a herbal tea (bitter), a small hand for 1/3 liter of very hot water, to drink during the day.
A domestic alcoholic tincture of 1/5 or 1/10 with the fresh plant (at least 70 ° alcohol) or dry (50 ° alcohol) can be interesting.
Example of dosage: 50 drops 3 times day of tincture 1/5
BACOPA, A TRADITIONAL MEDICINAL PLANT IN INDIA TO IMPROVE MEMORY, INTELLECTUAL PERFORMANCE, AND CALM ANXIETY
BACOPA or BRAHMI is a small semi-aquatic plant that contains compounds active on the brain activity.
They improve the process of impaired memory in elderly people, facilitate learning and intellectual recovery after a stroke.
Bacopa can also help calm very agitated children who have difficulty learning and concentrating.
Bacopa extracts are soothing and slightly anxiolytic .
Copyright 2019: Dr Jean-Michel Hurtel