Bacopa monnieri (*)
Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennell
USDA, NRCS. 2006. The PLANTS Database, 6 March 2006 (http://plants.usda.gov). Data compiled from various sources by Mark W. Skinner. National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.
Bacopa monnieri (Coastal Waterhyssop, Brahmi, Thyme-leafed gratiola, Water hyssop) is a perennial, creeping herb whose habitat includes wetlands and muddy shores. Brahmi is also the name given to Centella asiatica, particularly in north India, although that may be a case of mistaken identification that was introduced during the 16th century.
The leaves of this plant are succulent and relatively thick. Leaves are oblanceolate and are arranged oppositely on the stem. The flowers are small and white, with four or five petals. Its ability to grow in water makes it a popular aquarium plant. It can even grow in slightly brackish conditions. Propagation is often achieved through cuttings.
It commonly grows in marshy areas throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Taiwan, and Vietnam, and is also found in Florida, Hawaii and other southern states of the USA where it can be grown in damp conditions by the pond or bog garden.
This plant has a number of uses in Ayurveda. It is a traditional treatment for epilepsy and asthma. It has antioxidant properties, reducing oxidation of fats in the bloodstream. However, anti-epilepsy properties seem to be in very high toxic and near lethal doses, so it's only used—at much lower non-toxic dosage—as an additive to regular epilepsy medication. Studies in humans show that an extract of the plant has antianxiety effects.
It is listed as a nootropic, a drug that enhances cognitive ability. In India, this plant has also been used traditionally to consecrate newborn babies in the belief that it will open the gateway of intelligence. Laboratory studies on rats indicate that extracts of the plant improve memory capacity and motor learning ability. Recent studies suggest bacopa may improve intellectual activity. The sulfhydryl and polyphenol components of Bacopa monniera extract have also been shown to impact the oxidative stress cascade by scavenging reactive oxygen species, inhibiting lipoxygenase activity and reducing divalent metals. This mechanism of action may explain the effect of Bacopa monniera extract in reducing beta amyloid deposits in mice with Alzheimer's disease. B. monnieri has a demonstrated ability to reverse diazepam-induced amnesia in the Morris water maze test. The mechanism of this action is unknown. In some trials, bacopacide extract did not restore or enhance memory formation, but improved retention. In others including a randomized clinical trial of 98 healthy older people (over 55 years)Bacopa significantly improved memory acquisition and retention.
Its many active compounds include: alkaloids (brahmine and herpestine), saponins (d-mannitol and hersaponin, acid A, and monnierin), flavonoids (luteolin and apigenin). Also in significant amounts: betulic acid, stigmastarol, beta-sitosterol, bacopasaponins (bacosides A, bacosides B, bacopaside II, bacopaside I, bacopaside X, bacopasaponin C, bacopaside N2 and the minor components were bacopasaponin F, bacopasaponin E, bacopaside N1, bacopaside III, bacopaside IV, and bacopaside V). In rats, bacosides A enhance antioxidant defenses, increasing superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase (CAT) and glutathione peroxidase (GPX) activity.
When a preparation of the plant was evaluated for safety and tolerability it showed no adverse effects but there were some reports of mild gastrointestinal symptoms.
It is used in Vietnamese cuisine, where it is called rau đắng biển. It is used in cháo cá, a variety of rice congee made with fish and nấm tràm mushrooms.
Bacopa monnieri is a known hyperaccumulator of cadmium, chromium, lead and mercury, and as such can be used for phytoremediation.
The plant is known by many names in many international languages, including:
* நீர்ப்பிரமி (Niirpirami) in Tamil
1. ^ "Bacopa monnieri information from NPGS/GRIN". www.ars-grin.gov. http://www.ars-grin.gov/cgi-bin/npgs/html/taxon.pl?102292. Retrieved 2008-03-13.
Source: Wikipedia, Wikispecies: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License