San: Brahmi, Sarasvati;
Hin: Barami, Jalnim;
Mal: Brahmi , Nirbrahmi;
Tam: Nirpirami, Piramiyapundu; Kan, Mar: Nirbrahmi
Importance: Brahmi or Thyme leaved gratiola is an important drug in Ayurveda for the improvement of intelligence and memory and revitalisation of sense organs. It clears voice and improves digestion. It is suggested against dermatosis, anaemia, diabetes, cough, dropsy, fever, arthritis, anorexia, dyspepsia, emaciation, and insanity. It dispels poisonous affections, splenic disorders and impurity of blood. It is useful in vitiated conditions of kapha and vata, biliousness, neuralgia, ascites, flatulence, leprosy, leucoderma, syphilis, sterility and general debility. The whole plant is used in a variety of preparations like Brahmighrtam, Sarasvataristam., Brahmitailam, Misrakasneham, etc. In unani Majun Brahmi is considered as a brain tonic.
Distribution: The plant grows wild on damp places and marshy lands in the major part of the plains of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and other tropical countries.
Botany: Bacopa monnieri (Linn.) Pennell. syn. Monniera cuneifolia Michx., Herpestis monniera (Linn.) H.B. & K. belongs to the family Scrophulariaceae. It is a prostrate, juicy, succulent, glabrous annual herb rooting at the nodes with numerous ascending branches. Leaves are simple, opposite, decussate, sessile, obovate-oblong or spatulate, entire, fleshy, obscurely veined and punctate. Flowers are pale blue or whitish, axillary, solitary, arranged on long slender pedicels. Fruits are ovoid, acute, 2-celled, 2-valved capsules and tipped with style base. Seeds are minute and numerous (Warrier et al, 1993).
Agrotechnology: The plant grows throughout the warm humid tropics upto 1200m elevation. Brahmi gets established well in water logged fields. The plant is propagated vegetatively by stem cuttings. Land is prepared by ploughing 2 or 3 times. Two to three tonnes/ha of cowdung or compost is applied and the field is again ploughed and levelled. Stem cuttings, 10cm long are spread at a spacing of 20cm. Waterlogging to height of 30cm is always required. Rooting may start within 15-20 days. It will spread over the field within 6 months. Regular application of organic manure will take care of the manurial requirement. Weeding once in a month is required. Care should be taken to maintain water level at a height of 30cm during the growth period. No serious pests or diseases are noted in this crop. Harvesting commences from sixth months onwards. Brahmi leaves can be collected once a month. After 3 years, the whole crop is harvested and removed. Fresh cultivation can be carried out in the same field.
Properties and activity: Earlier workers have reported the isolation of the alkaloids brahmine and hespestine and a mixture of 3 alkaloids from the leaves. Mannitol and saponins were reported later. Subsequent work described isolation of some C27, C29, and C31 hydrocarbons and betulic acid from this plant material. A systematic examination has resulted in the isolation and identification of two saponins designated as bacosides A and B. Bacoside A has chemical structure represented as 3-(-L-arabinopyranosyl)-O- – D-glucopyranoside-10, 20-dihydroxy-16-ketodammar-24-ene. The mixture of bacosides A and B on hydrolysis give four sapogenins, glucose and arabinose. The constitution of bacogenin A, has been established as 3 -30-dihydroxy-20(5)-25-epoxy-22-methyl-24-nor-dammar-22-en-16-one. Bacogenin A2 has been shown to be an isomer of bacogenin A, differing in configuration at C-20. Bacogenin A4 has been identified as ebelin lactone.
The plant is reported to have shown barbiturate hypnosis potentiation effect. The plant is anticancerous and improves learning ability. It is used as a tranquilliser. The plant is astringent, bitter, sweet, cooling, laxative, intellect promoting, anodyne, carminative, digestive, antiinflammatory, anticonvulsant, depurative, cardiotonic, bronchodialator, diuretic, emmenagogue, sudorfic, febrifuge and tonic (Basu et al, 1947; Rastogi et al 1960).