This morning I’m going to continue on the theme of herbs for the nervous system that I began with Oat, and build on that knowledge with today’s profiled herb, Bacopa! An important herb in Ayurvedic medicine, bacopa works with our nervous system to mitigate the effects that overactivity, stress, and anxiety can have on it, and aids in the formation of new memories and our rate of recall, speeding up how quickly we learn and remember new information. As the end of the academic year approaches, tax season arrives, and the general buzz of activity increases as the world wakes up from its winter slumber, we can certainly acknowledge the need for memory support, and feel the effects of stress most acutely this time of year. This crisis point is where bacopa can step in, and give us a much-appreciated helping hand. Continue reading below to learn more about this soothing, cooling herb!
Bacopa’s Traditional Uses
Traditional usage of bacopa, also known as water hyssop, included using the herb to treat forgetfulness and poor memory. Ayurvedic medical practicioners believed that bacopa enhanced memory and concentration, and some modern scientific studies are finding evidence that this could be the case, as the herb seems to improve learning ability both in memory formation and quicker information recall (PubMed).
Bacopa’s presence throughout East Indian history is significant. Named for the Hindu god Brahma, the creator god, bacopa is legendary for its diversity of usage. It has been said that bacopa was used to help the wise men, Brahmins, memorize epic hymns and poems that would take years to learn, and weeks at length to recite, in keeping with the traditional belief that bacopa aided in memory formation and retention. Its other names include water hyssop, brahmi, thyme-leafed gratiola, water hyssop, herb of grace, and Indian pennywort.
Bacopa is native to the Indian subcontinent, and can be found growing wild in the marshes and wetlands there, and now in locations such as Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Pakistan, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Florida. It is a small, creeping perennial with succulent, oblong leaves arranged opposite one another on the stem, and small white flowers blooming annually, with four to five petals each. The plant grows in a low, bush-like configuration, and can thrive in areas where fresh water meets salt, such as river mouths and coastal regions. It has multiple shallow root points, and can be propagated through cuttings as would a succulent.
Healing Attributes of Bacopa
Best taken as a capsule, tablet or tincture, bacopa’s medicinal value is found throughout the entire plant, so it is often harvested and then the whole stalks are dried, and either powdered for capsules and tablets or cut up for use in a tincture. Bacopa’s key actions are as a mild analgesic (pain relief), mild sedative and as a nerve tonic. It’s considered a gentle remedy for nervous exhaustion, stress and anxiety, similar to oat in effect, but can also serve as an aid in stimulating appetite and easing digestion through its cooling nature. Take a look at the list below to find out how bacopa can be brought into your home apothecary!
- Poor memory/ concentration- one tablet or capsule daily before food
- Stress, hyperactive mind- one tablet or capsule daily before food
- Poor digestion, appetite- one half tablespoon of tincture before a meal, only once a day.
The advised dosage for bacopa is 3-7.5 grams a day, and no more than 50 grams weekly. Bacopa has been known to cause digestive irritation in some users, so stick to small doses initially if taking internally, and gradually increase dose if not experiencing irritation.
Thank you once again for joining me in learning more about the soothing, memory-improving herb bacopa! Let me know what you thought about this article, or any experience you might have with this herb, in the comments below. I hope this article was helpful to you, and you’ll consider adding bacopa to your home apothecary!
Warm wishes and witch hazel,