Bacopa monnieri

Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennel (Scrophulariaceae)

(2n = 64, 68)

Syn: Herpestis monniera (L.) H.B. & K., Moniera cuneifolia Michx., Gratiola monniera L.

English name: Thyme leaved gratiola.

Sanskrit names: Brahmi, Nira brahmi.

Vernacular names: Ben

Adhabirni, Birmi shak, Barmi shak, Brahmi; Hin : Barambhi, Safed chammi; Mal: Nir bramhi; Mar: Barna; Ori : Urishnaparni; Tam: Nirbrami; Tel: Sambranichettu.

Trade name: Brahmi.

Traditional use: ATHARVA VEDA: strengthens body, improves quality of semen; CHARAKA SAMHITA : invigorat­ing, life sustaining; SUSHRUTA SAMHITA : increases memory and lifespan; AYURVEDA: (a) Plant: bitter, diuretic, blood-purifier, invigorates sex; (b) Plant-extract: used in purification of blood, for anaemia, dermatitis, diabetes, filaria; (c) Plant-juice (along with ginger, sugar and bark extract of Moringa oleifera) : to children in stomach disorder; (d) Leaves (fried in ghee) : as a brain tonic, in nervous weakness, hysteria, epilepsy, insanity, anxiety neurosis, and to sharpen dull memory.

AGNI PURANA: Plant: poison-killer; Plant-juice: good for epilepsy. UNANI: invigorating and good for cold and cough.

Modern use: Plant-extract: In experiments with mice, rat and dog, it has been proved to be tranquilizer, musculature relaxant, antispasmodic, anticancer; Powdered dried leaf: satisfactory results obtained in man in cases of asthenia, nervous breakdown, and other low adynamic conditions.

Phytography : Annual creeper, rooting at each node; stem soft, succulent, soft hairs present; branches 10-25 cm long; leaves alternate, simple, 1.25-1.8 cm long, sessile or subsessile, oval-shaped; flowers light blue or white, 0.8-1.5 cm long; capsules 2- grooved, valves separating from entire column, many-seeded.

Phenology: Flowering: April-June; Fruiting: June-December.

Distribution: Marshes throughout India, ascending up to 1300 m; Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Ecology and cultivation: Grows in damp or marshy areas, on the banks of ponds and canals, in the crop fields.

Chemical contents: Plant: Becoside A & B, betulic acid, betulinic acid, d-mannitol, stigmasterol, β-sitosterol, saponin, stigmastanol, hersaponin, monnierin, nicotine, luteoline and its glucosides.