Bacopa, commonly referred to as water hyssop, is a genus that includes about 70 to 100 different aquatic plants belonging to the family Plantaginaceae. One of the species of this genus, Bacopa monnieri, is commonly used in traditional medicine, as it contains several essential compounds that have medicinal properties. It is a perennial, creeping herb that grows in moist and swampy areas. It is characterized by small, round, fleshy leaves and tiny white flowers.
The constituents of this herb are responsible for its various benefits. It contains a number of phytochemicals such as alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins, beta-sitosterol, and betullic acid. There are around thirteen different saponins present in the leaves of this plant, each of which have some unique properties and a specific effect on the human body.
- Bacopa, also known as 'brahmi', is used as a brain tonic, for enhancing memory, improving learning skills, and to deal with conditions such as stress, anxiety, and depression. It is also used for the treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
- This herb has antioxidant properties, and it also helps in improving blood circulation to the brain. It is beneficial in the treatment of emotional disturbance and neurological disorders such as Alzheimer's disease and amnesia.
- The oil extracted from the flowers of this plant has a cooling effect which helps in relaxation. It ensures good sleep and is therefore used for the treatment of insomnia.
- The antioxidant property of this medicinal plant improves blood circulation to the brain. It also promotes hair growth and makes the hair healthy and strong. It is also beneficial for the treatment of dandruff.
- Although it primarily benefits the brain, it has a positive effect on the overall health of the person.
- This herb also enhances the body's antioxidant defenses by increasing the production of antioxidants like catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and superoxide dismutase within the cells.
- Some of the saponins present in bacopa inhibit the growth of certain parasites in the body, and thus help protect the body from various diseases and infections.
- The blood cleansing and detoxifying property of this herb makes it a great medicine for the treatment of a variety of skin diseases. It is also known to have anti-aging properties and is beneficial for the skin.
- It helps in raising the mucosal defensive factors in and around the gastrointestinal tract, thereby promoting gastrointestinal health. The extract of this plant also benefits the people affected by irritable bowel syndrome and stomach ulcers.
- It reduces the symptoms of allergic reactions, and improves the heart function.
- It helps in maintaining the structural and functional integrity of the membranes surrounding the mitochondria present in the cells.
- The extract, like many other plant extracts, has natural anti-inflammatory properties.
There are no serious side effects associated with the use of this plant extract, however, some people may experience nausea, vomiting, dry mouth, heart palpitations, excessive thirst, and fatigue. These side effects are mild and usually subside on their own over a period of time. However, pregnant women or breastfeeding mothers should avoid its use, as there's a lack of sufficient scientific evidence on its effect on pregnant women.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.