How to Use This Ayurvedic Herb to Reduce Anxiety and Stress
Discover the many benefits of brahmi, from improving memory to helping you sleep better.
Brahmi is an ancient Ayurvedic herb that can deliver vast benefits for your mental health. Long before mental health drugs were created, brahmi has been used in Ayurveda to support proper function of the nervous system, help reduce anxiety, depression and stress, improve your memory and even boost your ability to receive inspiration.
Called Bacopa monnieri in Latin, this herb is particularly beneficial for anyone seeking to enhance your creativity and support your mental health in all-natural ways. Brahmi also belongs to a classification of Ayurvedic herbs known as rasayana, or longevity-promoting substances that support anti-aging, immunity against disease, improved mental power and strengthened bodily tissues. It's considered to be so powerful that it's known as the goddess of creativity, wisdom and knowledge, and as a "great medicine."
Here, five of my favorite — and science-backed — benefits of brahmi.
Improves Your Memory
A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial tested participants on the Wechsler Memory Scale. Results showed that there was significant improvement in total memory score for those who took brahmi. Another 12-week study of 46 healthy adults showed how taking 300 mg of brahmi daily significantly improved the speed of not only memory, but also learning and processing visual information, compared with the placebo treatment.
In Ayurveda psychology, there are three different qualities of the mind: One is inertia, another is agitation and the third quality is balance, clarity and calmness. Brahmi is believed in Ayurveda to bring about the third quality of calmness in your mind. Two 12-week studies backed up this ancient wisdom by revealing that taking 300 mg of brahmi daily significantly lowered anxiety levels.
Lowers Stress Levels
Brahmi is considered an adaptogenic herb, which means it helps increase your ability to resist stress and strain on your body and mind. (Learn all about adaptogens here.) Modern research suggests that this herb can improve your mood by lowering your cortisol levels. Cortisol is the hormone that creates stress, so lowering your cortisol can help lower the amount of stress you experience.
Ayurveda is a spiritual science. In its ancient wisdom, this herb is believed to help you remember your deeper, spiritual nature. It also enhances your ability to benefit from spiritual practices that support you in receiving spiritual inspirations and overcoming trauma.
Promotes Hair Health
Known for its cooling properties and sweet taste, Bacopa monnieri is very beneficial for reducing hair loss and early graying. According to Ayurveda, these issues are due to excess heat in your body and mind (known as pitta dosha, or the bioforce of transformation and metabolism).
Helps You Sleep
Because brahmi helps lower stress and anxiety levels, it is one of the common herbs Ayurveda practitioners like myself recommend to help sleep at night. Stress, worry, anxiety and fear tend to keep us up at night, so by helping to calm down the mind, this herb can help your body to follow natural circadian rhythms.
How to Use Brahmi
The best way to benefit from Brahmi is to include it in your daily diet.
Take Brahmi as a Supplement
Brahmi is available in supplement form, like this version from Banyan Botanicals. But before taking it as a supplement, I'd strongly recommend a one-on-one consultation with myself or another Ayurveda practitioner to learn the exact way and amount to take brahmi to gain the most benefit from it. When you work with a practitioner, the benefit is that all of your aggregate health concerns can be taken into account when giving you the best herbal support for your particular needs. Book an appointment with me here.
Use Brahmi in Your Cooking
- Fresh brahmi extract or brahmi juice: Take the stems and leaves of the plant and pound them into a paste, using a mortar and pestle and a drop or two of water. Then take the paste into a muslin cloth or sieve and squeeze to release the juice.
- Brahmi ghee: This is an excellent brain food, giving you all the wonderful immunity-enhancing benefits of ghee plus the mental health benefits of brahmi. You can cook your daily food with this type of ghee to really integrate it into your diet.
To make it, first add 1 cup of ghee to a pan. Then add 4 cups of water and 1/4 cup of brahmi juice to the pan. Simmer gently on medium to low heat, then reduce it down (by allowing the liquid to evaporate) to 1 cup.
- Brahmi and spinach stir-fry: Add the fresh leaves or 1/4 tsp of brahmi powder to ghee, along with 1/4 tsp of cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp of turmeric powder and pink Himalayan rock salt to taste. Then cook the spinach with these spices for a few minutes until the leaves wilt. You can enjoy this simple spinach stir fry with tortillas, rice or lentils.
- Add to warm lentil soups: Add fresh leaves (ideally) or powder of brahmi to ghee. In the summer and fall seasons, you can also include 1/4 tsp each of crushed coriander seeds, cumin seeds and fennel seeds to this mixture. In the winter and spring, you can add a pinch of hing (asafoetida), grated ginger and 1/4 tsp each of cumin and mustard seeds. Add the seasonal ghee and spice mix to your favorite soups for enhanced flavor, digestibility and the mental health benefits of brahmi.