Phytopharmacology of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) Part 1

Phytopharmacology of

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  Part 1


The search for effective and safe medicines for neurological disorders is always on. Brahmi is one such medicine used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. 

Brahmi corresponds to two plants, Bacopa monnieri and Centella asiatica. Both the plants are used in Ayurvedic system as medhya (beneficial for intellect, enhancing intellect, nootropic) and rasaayana (adaptogen). In Indian system both plants were valued for the treatment of nervine disorders; hence there is confusion regarding morphological identification of Brahmi. Botanists and many researchers have now accepted Bacopa monnieri as Brahmi and Centella asiatica as Mandukaparni, the plant whose leaf resembles the feet of a frog.

In Western medicine, certain neurological disorders have limited therapeutic options. As Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) has proven beneficial effects in neurological and psychiatric disorders, it is imported from Ayurveda and incorporated in modern medical science. Its efficacy and safety are supported by thousands of years knowledge, experience, traditional use and modern research. Search is on for its newer and newer benefits.    

Because of its pleotropic pharmacological activities, medical practitioners started using Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) for many disorders other than the neurological ones. Drug manufacturers started promoting Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) as dietary supplements. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that many products of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) have not been approved for these medical purposes and certainly not as food supplements. In 2019 the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued notices to manufacturers of dietary supplement products containing Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) against making tall, illegal and unproven claims that the herb can treat various diseases.

Its ability to grow in water makes Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) a popular aquarium plant.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is known by the common names: water hyssop, herb of grace, thyme-leafed gratiola, Indian pennywort and many others. Brahmi is a Sanskrit word derived from “Brahman” referring to “Lord Brahma”, the divinity responsible for the creation of the world and creative forces in the world. Brahman is the Hindu name given to the universal consciousness. Brahmi literally means the energy or “Shakti” of Brahma. Thus Brahmi has a lot to offer to the medical world.

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) has been intentionally introduced by humans to be grown as medicinal herb and also as an ornamental plant in ponds and aquaria. 

[1, 2, 3]

Brahmi and Mandookaparni

Since 3rd century, ancient Ayurvedic scientists and authors of texts like Charaka Samhitaa (Charaka), Sushruta Samhitaa (Sushruta) and Ashtaangahridayam-Samhitaa (Waagbhata-Vaghbata) recognized the effects of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on memory, creativity, motivation etc. of healthy individuals. They also found similar properties in Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica). They clearly mentioned though Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica) displays properties similar to Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) both are different plants. Confusion was created later in the 16 th century when Bhavamishra the author of Bhavaprakash Nighantu and Hemadri the author of Ashtaanga Hridayam equated Brahmi with Mandookaparni. Since then, particularly in North India and Kerala Brahmi has been known as Mandookaparni. However, a critical and comparative study of phytochemistry, phytopharmacology and therapeutic properties proved that the two are distinct plants. Now according to The Ayurvedic Formulatory of India, Bacopa monnieri is Brahmi and Centella asiatica is Mandookaparni.    [4]

Other Names

Taxonomic Name: Bacopa monniera Hayata, Bramia monnieri (L.), Gratiola monnieria L, Herpestestes monnieria L, Herpestist fauriei H. Lev., Herpestis monniera,  Herpestris monnieria L., Lysimachia monnieri L., Moniera cuneifolia Michx

Sanskrit: Saraswati (after goddess of learning, goddess of knowledge and wisdom or essence of the self), Somavati (the herb containing soma or nectar), Indravalli (herb having energy of Olrd Indra), Brahmi (the herb having knowledge of Brahma or supreme reality), Adha-birni, Jala-Brahmi or Shwetakamini’

(Ayurvedic Names: Brahmi, Saraswati, Jahaushadhi, Swayambhuvi, Madukamala, Matsyaakshi, Medhyaa, Satyavati, Smarani, Aindri, Kapotawamaka)

English: Herb-of-grace, Bacopa, Thyme leaved Gratiola, Water-hyssop

Arabic: Farfakh (the hottest tree)

Assamese: Manimuni,

Bengali: Thankuni, Tholkuri 

Bihar: Chokiora

Cambodia: Sanu

Chinese: Jia ma chi xian, Fo-ti-tieng, Chi-hsueuh-ts’ao

El Salvador: Verdolaga

French: Bacopa de monnier, Bacopa des herbalists, Bacopa medicinale, Bramia de saint-paul, Petite bacopa

German: Kleines Fettblatt, Wasserysop

Gujarati: Jalanevari, Kadavi luni (the better herb), Brahmi, Motibrahmi

Hawaii: Pohe Kula

Hindi: Brahmi, Safed kami (white Lord), Safedchamni, Swetchamni, Brahme-Manduki, Mandukparni, Gotukola, Khulakhudi, Baam, Brahmi, Barami, Jaibuti, Jalneem, Pan brahmi, Nirbraini     

Kannada: Brahmi, Jalabrahmi, Kiri brahmi, Kiru brahmi, Neer brahmi, Neeru brahmi, Neeruppi gida        

Kashmiri: Brahmi

Kerala:  Mayalchevi

Malay/Malaysia : Pegaga, Beremi

Malayalam:  Kodagam, Kodangal, Kutkam, Kuttanal, Muthal, Mutti, Brahmi, Nirbrahmi, Neerbrahmi, Nirubrahmi

Manipur: Phuk       

Marathi: Brahmi, Kainga, Karivana

Meghalaya: Bat-meina

Mexico: Baraima

Mizoram: Lambak

Nepalese: Medha giree (mountain of wisdom), Ghodtapre

Oriya (Orissa): Brahmi, Thalkudi

Philippines: Ulasimang-aso

Puerto Rico: Yerba de culebra

Punjabi: Brahmibuti 

Sinhalese: Hingotukola

Swedish: Litet tjockblad

Tamil: Brahmi, Neer brahmi, Neerpirami, Akantapuntu, Aramiyacceti, Arapiyam, Campirani, Chinkamamuli, Vimala, Virumamuli and many more        

Telugu: Bokkudu, Saraswataku, Saraswati Plant, Bekaparnamu, Neeri, Mokka, Sambraani, Sambrani chettu, Sambrani-aku 

Thailand: Phak mi, Phrommi

Tripura: Thankuni, Thunimankuni,

Urdu: Brahmi buti

USA: Indian Pennywort, Marsh Pennywort

Vietnam: Rau sam           [5, 6, 7, 8]


Taxonomic Classification

 Domain: Eukaryota

Kingdom: Plantae-Plants, Planta, Vegetal plants

Subkingdom: Tracheophyta, Tracheobionta-Vascular plants/ Viridiplantae-Green plants

Infrakingdom: Streptophyta-Land plant.

Superdivision: Spermatophyta- Seed plants/Embryophyta

Division: Magnoliophyta-Flowering plants/Tracheophyta-Vascular plants. Tracheophytes

Subdivision: Spermatophytina-Spermatophytes, Seed plants, phanerogames

Class: Magnolipsida-Dicotyledons

Subclass: Asteridae

Superorder: Asteranae

Order: Scrophulariales/ Lamiales

Family: Scrophulariaceae-Figwort family/ Plantaginaceae-plantains

Genus: Bacopa Aubl.- Waterhyssop/

Species: Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennell-herb of grace, coastal waterhyssop


Following disintegration of family Scrophulariaceae the genus Bacopa has been assigned to the family Plantaginaceae. It can also be placed under the families of Scrophulariaceae, Gratiolaceae, or Veronicaceae but scientists have accepted its inclusion in the family Plantaginaceae.   


Plantaginaceae is a diverse family comprising approximately 90 genera and 1900 species distributed mostly across temperate regions but also occurring in tropical and subtropical areas. Species within Plantaginaceae include herbs, shrubs and aquatic plants that can be distinguished by two features: the frequent absence of regular vertical partitions in the heads of the glandular hairs and septicidal capsule dehiscence. 

The genus Bacopa comprises approximately 55 to 70 species of aquatic herbs, most of which grow as amphibious plants that thrive in areas with fluctuating water levels, partly as a result of their capacity to make specialized leaves when submerged or emerged. Such leaves improve gas exchange under water or prevent aerial desiccation. Bacopa species are distributed across tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Bacopa is sometimes confused with other small herbs like Lindernia, Callitriche, Stemodia and Macardonia that may be found in similar habitats.   [9, 10]


Geographical Distribution


It is most likely that Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) originates from tropical Asia and is now widespread throughout the tropics and subtropics. It is listed as introduced in Japan, Singapore, Spain, Portugal and the Cayman Islands. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is one of the most widespread species of the genus Bacopa. It commonly grows in marshy areas throughout India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Taiwan, Vietnam, tropical and southern Africa or Madagascar, in Australia, in the Caribbean, Middle and South America, Florida, Texas and Hawaii, China, Canada etc. In North India it can grow in wide range of temperatures 150 C to 40oC and pH 5 to 7.5 or even more. It becomes dormant during the winter months except when grown near running water. [11, 12, 13]



Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) an aquatic herb is ornamental in ponds and aquaria. It is also cultivated as a medicinal plant. It grows gregariously and often forms dense mats in marshy places, mangroves, river banks, coastal areas, along streams and ditches. It grows best near flowing water, Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) grows as a weed in rice fields and wet pastures. It prefers acidic soil for its congenial growth. A temperature range of 330 C to 400 C with relative humidity of 60 to 65 percent has been found optimum for its vegetative propogation (asexual reproduction). It can also colonize in irrigated fields beneath date palms. It can be found in the interface between aquatic and terrestrial environments. It often grows in wet places, roadsides, gardens, in mud or sand along river banks, ponds and lakes, wooded slopes, foothills, on the edges of mangroves, estuaries (the tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream), swamps and sandy beaches along the coasts at elevations below 1400m. It can tolerate brackish water, (water having more salinity than fresh water but much less than sea water. It may result from mixing of seawater with fresh water. The word comes from the Middle Dutch root “brak”). It has adapted to grow under varying soil and climatic conditions, performing exceptionally well on poorly drained soils and waterlogged areas. In aquatic habitats it has deleterious effects on native plants and animals, water quality, water flow and sedimentation. In terrestrial situations it degrades riverbanks, margins of ponds, lakes and coastal areas. [14, 15]


Plant Morphology




    Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  plant growing in nature and grown in garden


Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) is prostrate to decumbent, small, smooth, hairless, succulent, fleshy, hardy, non-aromatic, annual, aquatic, herbaceous, perennial, glabrous, creeping herb. It is edible and medicinal plant growing up to 6 inches (15cms) in height. It grows outward in a sprawling (low density) pattern. Left to nature it can spread rapidly. It prefers part to full sun. It grows in a wide range of soils. As long as it gets sufficient water, it can thrive in rock, sand and mud and feed on slow release fertilizer.   [16, 17]




  Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  Dried Roots and  Green brown Roots

Roots creamish yellow in color, thin tapering, wiry, small, branched arising from nodal region of the stem. Fragments of dried main roots are cylindrical, about 5mm in diameter, longitudinally wrinkled and white in color 



Numerous, ascending, 10 to 35 cm long




 Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)    Stem

Stem green or purplish-green in color, creeping, 50 cm, loosely ascending,    slender, prostrate, thick and fleshy, much branched with prominent nodes and internodes  [18]




 Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)       Leaves

Leaves faint green in color, arranged alternate on stem, sessile, 0.5-2cm by 0.15-0.8 cm, simple, glabrous, opposite, decussate, obovate or oblong or coin like in shape, entire, margins entire or rarely dentate, 1 to 3 nerved, punctate, apex is obtuse, rounded with 1-3 parallel veins from the base of the blade, glabrous [19]




                                              Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  Flowers                                           

Although the flowers are of many colors, Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) with white flowers is preferred for medicinal use. The Flower 8-10 mm, obscurely 2 lipped, white in color with violet and green bands decorated with shining dots while fresh and color lightens gradually as it grows older, small, actinomorphic (star shaped or radially symmetrical), solitary, stalked in leaf axils, with 2 bracteoles below calyx, Flower Stalk about 0.5 to 3.5 cm long, bracteoles 2, linear, shorter than pedicels; Pedicel slender 0.5cm to 1cm; Calyx 4.2-7 mm, Sepals 5, one of the 5 sepals is larger than others, lower and upper ovate-lanceolate, lateral 2 lanceolate to linear, keeled, ciliate, Corolla bluish white in color, 1cm long and 8-10 mm across, campanulate, 5 lobed, nearly regular, but lower central lobe longer and more separated from the other lobes, white, pink, lavender or blue, often with purple lines, the throat dark purple, the Tube yellow within, Stamens 2 short and 2 long, Stigma capitate, united. [20, 21]



Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri)  Capsule

Fruit is capsule 3.5-5 mm, ovoid, apiculate, enveloped in persistent sepal-cup, tip pointed  [22, 23] 




Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) Seeds


Seeds are numerous, 0.5 mm long, minute, yellow-brown in color, ellipsoid, truncate at one end, longitudinally channeled or reticulate, the reticulum reddish brown [24, 25]

Microscopic characteristics  


Transverse section (T.S.) of the root shows single layered epidermis with wide parenchymatous region; endodermis distinct and single layered; pericycle not differentiable; central region occupied by stele consisting of 1-5 layers of peripheral phloem and centrally located xylem vessels.  


Transverse section (T.S.) of the stem shows epidermis, hypodermis and cortex with parenchyma with large airspaces, endodermis, pericycle, vascular bundle and centrally placed pith; outermost single-layered barrel shaped epidermis with cuticle with few stomata; two to three layers of hypodermis consisting of parenchyma cells with chlorophyll pigment and cells containing tannin. One third of the section is occupied by the loosely arranged large intercellular spaces of parenchyma cells, each cell containing tannin at the place of connection between adjacent cells, giving a Y-like appearance. Some of the cells are loaded by starch grains and calcium oxalate crystals. A single-layered endodermis separates cortex from vascular tissue forming a ring. The pericycle is made of barrel-shaped, thin walled, compactly arranged cells. The vascular system consists of radially arranged vascular bundles. The phloem is arranged above the xylem. Xylems are numerous in number; metaxylem toward the pericycle, protoxylem toward the pith with xylem parenchyma and fibers; centrally situated pith containing compactly arranged parenchyma cells with some prismatic crystals.   [26]


Surface preparation of leaf shows the presence of two types stomata (a) anomocytic (also called ranunculaceous or irregular types of cells) and (b) diacytic (also called caryophyllaceous or cross-walled type); eight celled sessile glandular trichomes. The anomocytic types of stomata are more in number in comparison to diacytic type.

Transverse section (T.S.) of the leaf shows typical dirsi-ventral structure. Epidermis shows distinct upper and lower epidermis, cells of upper epidermis are larger than the cells of the lower epidermis and are covered with striated cuticle; sub-epidermal region shows idioblasts in the form of cavity. Lamina is differentiated into spongy and palisade layers. The palisade and spongy parenchyma cells are filled with chlorophyll. The midrib portion consists of vascular bundles with loosely arranged xylem which is in three to six groups. Phloem is with few elements of companion cells. Glandular sessile trichomes anisocytic and diacytic stomata, prism shaped calcium oxalate crystals found in the lamina and midrib portion. [27]

[Note: An idioblast is an isolated plant cell that differs from neighboring tissues. They perform various functions such as storage of reserves, excretory materials, pigments and minerals. They could contain oil, latex, gum, resin, tannin, pigments, acrid tasting and poisonous minerals like silica.] [28]

Powder characteristics

Whole plant

Powder of whole plant showed presence of simple, round to oval shaped starch grains, oil globules scattered as such throughout or embedded in parenchymatous cells, anomocytic and diacytic types of stomata, cluster of prismatic calcium oxalate crystals, fragments of longitudinally cut annular and pitted vessels, xylem vessels with spiral thickenings and pitted tracheids.  



Root powder is brown in color, simple starch grains, xylem vessels with spiral thickenings and pitted xylem tracheids


Stem powder is light brown in color and bitter in taste. lignified fibers, xylem vessels with spiral thickenings, pitted xylem tracheids; parenchyma cells filled with  simple and compound, round and oval starch grains; tannin contents; separate spiral rings are also observed; parenchyma cells   


Leaf powder is green in color and bitter in taste; presence of anomocytic and diacytic types of stomata, prismatic calcium oxalate crystals in mesophyll tissue and simple starch grains. [29]


Parts used

Mainly leaves or Whole plant


The phytochemistry of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) has been extensively studied. The phytochemicals present in the plant are:


Saponins called “bacosides” Bacosides are a complex mixture of structurally closely related compounds, glycosides of either jujubogenin or pseudojujubogenin. Bacosides comprise a family of 12 known analogues. They are grouped as major bacopasaponins and minor bacopasaponins. Major bacopasaponins are: bacosides A3, bacopaside II, bacopaside I, bacopaside X,  bacopaside N2, bacopasaponin C. Minor components are: bacopasaponin E, bacopasaponin F, bacopaside N1, bacopaside III,  bacopaside IV and bacopaside V.  




Five cucurbitacins: bacitracin A to E.

Three phenylethanoid glycosides: monnieraside I-III. They are isolated from aerial parts of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri).

Plantioside B

Two dammarane jujubogenin bisdesmosides bacopasaponins E and F  

Sterol glycoside bacosterol-3-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside

A new Matsutaka alcohol derivative, (3R)-l-octan-3-γl-(6-O-sulphonyl)-beta-d-glucopyranoside

Two flavonoids: leuteolin and apigenin,

Alkaloids: brahmine, nicotinine and herpestine

Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) also contains betulinic acid, D-mannitol, stigmastanol, β-sitosterol and stigmasterol [30, 31]

Identity, Purity and strength as per international guidelines


Foreign matter: Not more than 2 percent

Total Ash: Not more than 18 percent

Acid-insoluble Ash: Not more than 6 percent

Sulfated ash: Not more than 20 percent

Alcohol-soluble extractive: Not more than 6 percent

Water soluble extractive: Not less than 15 percent

Loss on drying: Not more than 14 percent [32]



Heavy Metal Analysis as per international guidelines


Element                     Permissible Limits


Arsenic                 Not more than 5 to 10 mg/kg

Cadmium              Not more than 0.03mg/kg    

Lead                      Not more than 5 to 10 mg/kg                   

Mercury                Not more than 0.5 mg/kg

Chromium            Not more than 0.3 mg/kg


Permissible Microbial Load as per international guidelines


Microbial Limits:

Total bacterial count:                                   Not more than 105cfu/g

Total yeast and mould count:                      Not more than 104cfu/g

Bile tolerant gram negative bacteria:           Not more than 104cfu/g


Specific Pathogens: (as per international guidelines)


Salmonella species:                 Absent in 25 g /none

Escherichia coli:                      Absent in 1g / maximum 102 to 104 per gram 

Staphylococcus aureus:          Absent in 1g          

Pseudomonas aeruginosa:      Absent in 1g

Shigella species:                                      

Enterobacter species:            maximum 104 per gram 

Other enterobacteria:            maximum 103 per gram

Aerobic bacteria:                  maximum 105 to 107 per gram  

Mould propagules:               maximum 103 to 105 per gram    

Yeasts and Mould:               maximum 103 to 104 per gram    


Aflatoxins (as per international guidelines)


Aflatoxin B1, Aflatoxin B2, Aflatoxin G1, Aflatoxin G2                      

Preferably Aflatoxins should be below detectable limits (BLD) [33, 34]


Pesticide residues (as per international guidelines)


In recent times various pesticides are used to protect and preserve the food and medicinal values of plants.

To avoid toxicity of herbal medicine, International Society for Standardization of Drugs and World Health Organization (WHO) have laid the guidelines for permissible levels of pesticides in herbal medicines.

In general, the pesticide contamination in any herbal medicine should be less than 1 percent of total intake from all sources, including food and drinking water.

Aldrin and dieldrin are broad spectrum pesticides commonly used in agriculture. The recommended maximum limit of these pesticides is Not more than 0.05 mg/kg. [35, 36]


Radioactive residues (as per international guidelines)


A certain amount of exposure to ionizing radiation of plants cannot be avoided since there are many sources, including radionuclides occurring naturally in the ground and the atmosphere.

The World Health Organization (WHO), in close collaboration with several international organizations, has developed guidelines for permissible and acceptable limits for radioactive residues in herbal medicines.

The amount of radiation in plants depends on intake of radionuclides. Significant risk is associated only with consumption of quantities over 20 kg of plant material per year so that the risk to health is most unlikely to be encountered given the amount of medicinal plant materials need to be ingested. Additionally, the level of contamination might be reduced during the manufacturing process. Therefore World Health Organization (WHO) has not proposed strict limits regarding the acceptability for radioactive contamination. [37]


Genetic Identity/ DNA sequencing


For medicinal purposes, it is wont to select Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) on the basis of morphological characteristics such as: leaf color (green, dark green and yellow-green), stem (thickness and color), leaf size (large >70 mm2; medium 60-70 mm2; and small 50-60 mm2) and plant type (spreading or semi-erect). However morphological identity is inadequate because of look-alike herbs. More over morphological characters may not be obvious at all stages of the development of the plant and appearance may be affected by the environment. Also there is a high genetic variability in the population.


To overcome these hindrances, scientists have devised: SSR (Simple Sequence Repeat), AFLP (Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism), RAPD (Random Amplified Polymorphic DNA), ISSR (Inter Simple Sequence Repeats), RFLP (Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism), PIC (Polymorphic Information Count), DNA (Deoxyribonucleic acid), PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction), UPGMA (Unweighted Pair Group Method with the Arithmetic Averaging Algorithm) and PCA (Principal Component Analysis) methods for accurate molecular identity of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri). [38]


Chromosomal Identity


The chromosome number reported in Brahmi (Bacopa minnieri) is 2n=64  [39]


Ayurvedic properties

Rasa (Taste): Madhura (Sweet), Tikta (bitter), Kashay (astringent) 

Weerya (Potency): Sheeta (Cooling)

Wipaaka (Metabolic property after digestion): Madhura (sweet)

Guna: Laghu (Light), Sara (Laxative)  [40, 41]




Charaka: Prajasthapana gana

Sushruta: Veeratharvadi gana




Bhavaprakash Nighantu: Guduchyaadi varga

Dhanwantari Nighantu: Karaveeradi varga

Kaiyadeva Nighantu: Oshadi varga

Raja Nighantu: Parpatadi varga

Priya Nighantu: Shatapushpa varga

Madanapala Nighantu: Abhayadi varga

Nighantu aadarsha: Tikta lonika varga

Shodala Nighantu: Karaveeradi varga

Hridaya Deepika Nighantu: Deepana varga

Shaligrama Nighantu: Guduchyaadi varga

Dravyaguna Vignyan (P.V. Sharma): Medhyaadi varga [42]



Effects on Doshas: Waatahara, Pittakara, Kaphakara. Balances all doshas

Effects on Dhatus: Balances all dhatus

Effects on Srotasas: Balances all srotasas. It prominently exerts its action on the nervous system. Being a neurotropic agent, it is beneficial in neurologic and psychiatric disorders. It has sedative as well as stimulant nervine effects [43]


Ayurvedic actions (Karma)


Medhya: Beneficial for intellect, promoting intelligence

Prajnyasthapana: Stabilizes intellectual power

Matiprada: Gives knowledge

Smrutiprada: Increases memory

Mohahara: Antagonizes greed, abnormal longings 

Aayushya: Promoting longevity

Jeevaneeya: Improves life energy

Rasaayana: Rejuveniting

Vayasthapaka: Stabilizes age

Balya: Improves physical and mental strength

Swarya: Beneficial for voice, Relieves hoarseness of voice, Improves quality of voice

Majjadhatu Rasaayana: Rejuvenates bone marrow, Rejuvenates nervous system

Nidrajanana: Induces sleep

Unmaadad: Treats neuroses, Mania, Psychosis

Apasmaara: For the treatment of epilepsy

Kaasaghna: Antitussive, Useful for the treatment of bronchitis

Hridya: Beneficial to heart

Warnya (Varnya): improves complexion

Shothhara: Anti-inflammatory, Relieves edema

Deepana: Appetizer

Anulomana: Prokinetic, Antiflatulent, Carminative

Kushthaghna: Antileprotic, Useful for the treatment of skin diseases

Pandu: Treats anemia

Pleehawridhi: For the treatment of splenomegaly

Meha: Treats diabetes

Vishaghna/Vishahara: Useful for the treatment of poisoning

Arsha: Treats Piles, Anal fissures

Jwara: Treats fevers (PUOs)

Ruk: Analgesic, Relieves pain

Kandughna: Antipruriric  [44, 45]


Modern View


Bacosides are a complex mixture of structurally closely related compounds, glycosides of either jujubogenin or pseudojujubogenin. Bacosides comprise a family of 12 known analogues. They are grouped as major bacopasaponins and minor bacopasaponins. Major bacopasaponins are: bacosides A3, bacopaside II, bacopaside I, bacopaside X,  bacopaside N2, bacopasaponin C. Minor components are: bacopasaponin E, bacopasaponin F, bacopaside N1, bacopaside III,  bacopaside IV and bacopaside V. [46] 


Bacoside A

Molecular Formula: C41H68O13 (Pubchem)

Structural Formula:

Bacoside A is a mixture of chemical compounds known as bacosides. Its major constituents include bacoside A3, bacoside II (jujubogenin isomer of bacopasaponin C) and bacopasaponin C. The mixture has been studied for its potential of neuroprotectivity in in vitro experiments and animal models. [47]

Bacoside B was found to be identical to Bacoside A in respect to their carbohydrate and aglycone moieties. But bacoside A is levo-rotatory and bacoside B is dextro-rotatory. Both are nootropic. Pharmacologically, bacoside A is more active than bacoside B  [48]

Recent clinical trials indicate that bacosides exert their neuroprotective actions through modulating antioxidant enzymes, namely, superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase etc. they also regulate the levels of different neurotransmitters in the brain. Hence they are useful for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease and epilepsy. Interestingly bacosides do not exert any side effects in animal models and human volunteers.

Usual dose of bacosides is 15 to 30 mg 3 times a day [49]


Administration of alcoholic extract of Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) prevented the scopolamine (3mg/kg bodyweight), sodium nitrite (75mg/kg body weight) and BN52021 (15 mg/kg body weight) experimental amnesia induced in mice. This effect of improving antegrade amnesia induced by scopolamine and sodium nitrite was possibly by improving acetylcholine level and hypoxic conditions respectively. The effect of improving amnesia was attributed to bacosides present in Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri). Besides this bacosides also reversed BN52021 induced retrograde amnesia, probably due to increase in platelet activating factor (PAF) synthesis by enhancing cerebral glutamate level. From these studies it can be said that bacosides and entire Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) plant are not merely memory enhancers but can be useful for the treatment of amnesias arising from various causes. [50]



Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and bacosides are extensively used as neuromedicine for the treatment of various disorders such as anxiety, depression and memory loss. Chemical characterization studies showed that powerful antioxidant and free radical scavenging activity of bacoside A is vital for this neuroprotection. Free radical scavenging, suppression of lipid peroxidation and activation of antioxidant enzymes by bacosides help to attain a physiological state of minimized oxidative stress. The neuroprotective activity of bacosides is attributed to the regulation of mRNA (messenger ribinucleic acid) translation and surface expression of neuro-receptors such as AMPAR (α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid receptor, also known as AMPA receptor or quisqualate receptor), NMDAR (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, also known as NMDA receptor) and GABAR (Gamma aminobutyric acid) in various parts of the brain. The binding of bacosides to these receptors is controlled by BBB (Blood Brain Barrier).

[Note: AMPAR and NMDAR are glutamate receptors. Glutamate is involved in learning process.]   [51]


Cognitive impairment is a debilitating symptom of schizophrenia, Alzheizemer’s disease etc. Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) or bacoside A and B could be novel nueroprotective agents. They can not only prevent the memory loss but help to restore the memory loss. They exert their action via Vesicular Glutamate Transporter 2 (VGLUT 2) in cingular gyrus  [52]


Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) at a dose of 40 and 80 mg/kg bodyweight is found to be useful in the treatment of neuropathic pain. This result is comparable to the effect of 75mg/kg bodyweight of gabapentin. The effect is attributed to bacoside a and b. [53]






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52. T. Wetchateng et al, EPA-0117-The use of bacosides a and b to prevent a cogniticve deficit in schizophrenia rat models resulting in increased vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (VGLUT2) in cingular gyrus, European Psychiatry, Volume 29 Supplement 1 2014 Page 1


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