Benefits of Brahmi (both herbs)
- Open and clarify the mind*
- Strengthen memory and intellect*
- Support focus and concentration*
- Encourage a balanced emotional state*
- Promote daytime energy and nighttime sleep*
- Support healthy blood cells*
- Promote healthy skin and hair*
Both gotu kola and bacopa pacify vata, pitta, and kapha. In excess, either one may increase vata.1, 3 Both herbs have a strong affinity for the lymph, blood, nervous tissue, and urinary tract, as well as the circulatory, digestive, and nervous systems. In addition, gotu kola works on the muscle, adipose, and bone tissues whereas bacopa resonates with all of the tissues in the body as well as the channels of elimination.1 And while some describe bacopa as cooling,1 others insist that it is in fact, heating&mdashthough still calming to pitta.2 Relative to gotu kola, let&rsquos just say that bacopa is less cooling and may therefore be preferred in certain types of vata and kapha imbalances. Gotu kola will generally be the better choice where there are strong indications of pitta imbalance. This is, of course, a subtle distinction because both herbs are considered to be tridoshic (balancing to vata, pitta, and kapha) and for specific conditions one may be preferred over the other. Bacopa is likely more suited for overall strengthening, and energy promotion. Gotu kola is purifying and rejuvenating&mdashespecially for pitta. Both are said to support longevity.3, 2 Gotu kola is an appetizer while bacopa suppresses the appetite bacopa is therefore often taken with digestives such as ginger or cardamom.1, 3 In addition to the benefits described below, both herbs known as brahmi are very supportive of the joints&mdashclearing toxins while promoting comfort and freedom of movement.1
Banyan co-founder, Kevin Casey, visits an organic brahmi/gotu kola farm in Karnataka, India, where the herb is being cultivated through natural and environmentally conscious farming practices.
Brahmi for the Mind
Both forms of brahmi are known to rejuvenate the mind, enhance memory, improve concentration, and to directly influence the quality of consciousness. Both are considered sattvic herbs (promoting subtle awareness). In fact, both are often used to support meditation as they increase the clarity and subtlety of mind. Both bacopa and gotu kola work very directly to improve the quality of sadhaka pitta (which is closely related to the intellect and intelligence) and, as tonics for the mind, they are both indicated in a broad range of mental imbalances&mdashboth behavioral and developmental.1 Further, because Ayurveda illuminates an intimate connection between the heart and the mind, it is significant that both forms of brahmi are known as heart tonics. While bacopa is generally preferred for vata aggravations and mental debility due to stress and exhaustion, gotu kola is preferred in mental or emotional aggravations involving both vata and pitta.
Brahmi for the Nervous System
Both bacopa and gotu kola are renowned for their effects on the nervous system. They both enhance and tonify majja dhatu (the nervous tissue) and help to relax tension in the body. They are simultaneously calming and stimulating, improving daytime alertness and focus while reducing stress throughout the system and improving the quality of sleep at night. On a more specific level, bacopa is known to reduce muscular tension and prevent constipation caused by stress, whereas gotu kola relaxes the central nervous system and slows the effects of aging.1
Brahmi for the Skin
Both bacopa and gotu kola are very soothing to the skin and scalp. They are both considered very useful in clearing aggravations of the skin, though bacopa would be favored when an underlying nervous imbalance is involved and gotu kola would be more effective with evidence of increased pitta. Both are also used to promote healthy hair growth. Applying either herb to the scalp has the added advantage of a close proximity to the brain and central nervous system, where the herbs are well positioned to inspire many of the above-mentioned benefits. Overall, gotu kola is considered to have a more significant affinity for the skin and it has wondrous effects on bhrajaka pitta (located in the skin). It promotes proper healing of wounds and minimal scarring, while helping to cleanse, soften, and protect the skin.1
How to Use Brahmi
External Use of Brahmi
Oil: Brahmi oil (made with either bacopa, gotu kola, or both) can be applied to the exterior of the body to promote healthy skin, proper healing, and freedom of movement in the joints.1 It may also be massaged into the scalp to support healthy hair growth and to encourage any of the many benefits brahmi offers the brain, the nervous system, and the mind.
Paste: A paste of brahmi (again, made with either bacopa or gotu kola) can be applied to the exterior of the body to promote healthy skin, and comfortable movement of the joints.
Internal Use of Brahmi
Because taste plays such an important role in the digestive process and signals the body to initiate its own supportive mechanisms, Ayurveda traditionally recommends tasting herbs. Brahmi can be taken internally as a powder, a tablet or as a liquid extract. Banyan Botanicals makes both bacopa and gotu kola available in a powdered and liquid extract form and each of them is a key ingredient in several Banyan tablets.