Presented by: UT El Paso / Austin Cooperative Pharmacy Program & Paso del Norte Health Foundation

Bacopa (Brahmi)

Compilation by Armando Gonzalez Stuart, PhD.

Botanical Family:


Other Common Name:

Brahmi*, Indian pennywort, water hyssop, thyme-leafed gratiola, herb of grace, jia ma chi xian, bacopa de Monnier, “ae”ae.

*In India, the common name “Brahmi” is also applied to a very different medicinal plant, Centella asiatica, also known as Gotu Kola (Vohora and Vohora, 2016; Quattrocchi, 2012; VanWyk and Wink, 2014).

Where is it found?

This creeping and succulent plant commonly grows in marshy areas throughout Asia, especially India, Sri Lanka Pakistan, Nepal, Vietnam, as well as in South America. Additionally, it grows in Hawaii and Florida (Van Wyk and Wink, 2014).

Parts of the plant used:

The whole plant.

How is it used?

The plant can be eaten as a potherb or dried and pulverized and mixed with butter. The juice can also be taken with milk or mixed with butter (ghee) (Khare, 2004).

What is it used for?

Bacopa is considered a very important healing plant in both Ayurvedic and Siddha medicine from India. Its use is for improving memory/cognitive function, to treat insanity and epilepsy, to reduce neurosis, hypertension, and anxiety. Additionally, it is recommended as a tonic to slow down ageing. Additionally, it is used for asthma, catarrh and leucorrhea, kidney ailments, leprosy, tuberculosis, and skin diseases. Externally, a paste made for the fresh plant is applied to treat elephantiasis, rheumatism, and hydrocele. The leaves and stems are used to treat snakebites in India (Kapoor, 1990; Khare, 2016, 2007, 2004; Quattrocchi, 2012; Daniel, 2005).
Bacopa elevates the levels of glutamic acid and (transiently) the levels of GABA. It also contains alkaloids such as brahmine and herpestine (Khare, 2004).
Bacopa’s active constituents are a complex mixture of phytochemicals classified as triterpenoid saponins and collectively known as “bacosides” and bacopasides, especially bacosides A and B. These saponins may have a protective effect upon neurons and improve cognitive function, since they can inhibit the enzyme acetylcholinesterase and augment the flow of blood to the brain. For these reason, this plant may theoretically have an important role in the prevention or treatment of Alzehimer’s disease (Van Wyk and Wink, 2014; Saini et al., 2012; Bone and Mills, 2013).
Apetz et al. (2014), as well as Sadhu et al. (2014), mention that diverse secondary metabolites (phytochemicals) present in various medicinal plants studied (including the bacoside-containing extracts from Bacopa monnieri), as well as in polyherbal formulations, may possess antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, neuroprotective, cognition-improving, and anti-amyloidogenic properties that may counteract the degenerative effects of senile dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Safety / Precautions

  • There is no known toxicity associated with the use of this plant (Van Wyk and Wink, 2014).
  • In rare cases, only mild nausea, stomach upset and diarrhea have been reported.
  • Its use during pregnancy has not been thoroughly researched (Gardner and McGuffin, 2013).

Before you decide to take any medicinal herb or herbal supplement, be sure to consult with a health care professional first. Avoid self-medication and self-diagnosis: Always be on the safe side!


Apetz N, Munch G, Govindaraghavan S, Gyengesi E. Natural compounds and plant extracts as therapeutics against chronic inflammation in Alzheimer's disease--a translational perspective. CNS Neurol Disord Drug Targets. 2014; 13(7):1175-91.

Bone K, Mills S. Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy 2nd Ed.
London: Churchill Livingstone; 2013; pp. 284-285.

Daniel M. Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties.
Enfield, NH: Science Publishers: 2005; pp. 126, 225.

Gardner Z, McGuffin M (Editors). Botanical Safety Handbook 2nd ed.
Boca Raton, FL; CRC Press; 2013; pp. 123-124.

Kapoor Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990; pp. 337-338.

Khare C P. Ayurvedic Pharmacopeial Plant Drugs.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016; pp. 89-90.

Khare C P. Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary.
New Delhi, India: Springer-Verlag; 2007; p. 77.

Khare C P. Indian Herbal Remedies.
Berlin: Springer-Verlag; 2004; pp. 89-90.

Quattrocchi, U. World Dictionary of Medicinal and Poisonous Plants (4 vols.).
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2012; pp. 514-515.

Sadhu A, Upadhyay P, Agrawal A, Ilango K, Karmakar D, Singh GP, Dubey GP. Management of cognitive determinants in senile dementia of Alzheimer's type: therapeutic potential of a novel polyherbal drug product. Clin Drug Investig. 2014; 34(12):857-69. doi: 10.1007/s40261-014-0235-9.

Saini N, Singh D, Sandhir R. Neuroprotective effects of Bacopa monnieri in experimental model of dementia. Neurochem Res. 2012; 37(9):1928-37. doi: 10.1007/s11064-012-0811-4.

Van Wyk E, Wink M. Phytomedicines, Herbal Drugs, and Poisons.
Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press: 2014; p. 118.

Vohora D, Vohora S. Safety Concerns for Herbal Drugs.
Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2016; p. 78.