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Brahmi

Scientific Name(s): Bacopa monnieri (L.) Wettst. Family: Scrophulariaceae (figworts); also known as Bacopa monniera , Herpestis monniera , or Moniera cuneifolia

Common Name(s): Brahmi , Jalnaveri , Jalanimba , Sambrani chettu , thyme-leaved gratiola

Uses

Brahmi is used as a nerve tonic and an aid to learning.

Dosing

A single clinical trial of brahmi's effects on cognition reported a daily dose of 300 mg of extract.

Contraindications

Contraindications have not yet been identified.

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Brahmi appears to be free of reported adverse reactions. Brahmi has CNS effects, but no serious sedation.

Toxicology

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of this product.

Botany

Bacopa monnieri is a creeping herb that grows in marshy places and is frequently planted in freshwater aquaria. It is native to India but has spread throughout the tropics. The name brahmi has also been applied to Centella asiatica (better known as gotu kola ), as well as Merremia gangetica , however most authorities consider it most appropriate for B. monnieri . 1 A tissue culture method has been developed for the plant. 2

History

Brahmi is a well-known drug in the Ayurvedic medical tradition in India, and is used in many Ayurvedic herbal preparations. It has been traditionally used to treat asthma, hoarseness, insanity, epilepsy, and as a nerve tonic, cardiotonic, and diuretic. 1 It was prominently mentioned in Indian texts as early as the 6th century A.D. 3

Chemistry

The principal constituents of B. monnieri are triterpene saponins of the dammarane class, which have been named bacosides 4 and bacopasaponins, 5 , 6 and which contain 2 or 3 sugars each. The saponins are considered to be primarily responsible for the bioactivity of the plant. Due to the proclivity of the sapogenins to rearrange on acid hydrolysis, 7 the correct structures of the saponins have been difficult to elucidate, despite many chemical investigations. 8 , 9 , 10 , 11 , 12 An analytical HPLC method for the quantitation of bacoside A3 has been published. 13 The structure of 4 saponins of B. monnieri have also been determined by HPLC coupled to 2-D NMR, mass spectrometry, and an anthelmintic bioassay. 14 While alkaloids were initially suspected to be the CNS-active agents in brahmi, 15 the very small amounts of nicotine and other simple alkaloids are no longer considered to be of pharmacologic importance. 16 A free triterpene, bacosine, has been reported from B. monnieri . 17 Other reported constituents include mannitol, common plant sterols, and betulinic acid, 4 as well as glutamic and aspartic acids. 18

Uses and Pharmacology

Nerve tonic
Animal data

In mice, the ethanolic extract of B. monnieri was found to increase cerebral levels of GABA 15 minutes after administration. 19 Furthermore, the purified bacosides A and B showed dose-dependent effects in the same rat models, as well as in a taste aversion response test. 20 A saponin fraction of B. monnieri reduced spontaneous motor activity in rats, and lowered rectal temperatures in mice. 21 The same extract showed tranquilizing effects in rats but did not block the conditioned avoidance response. It also protected against audiogenic seizures. 22 Bacosine, a free triterpene isolated from the aerial parts of B. monnieri , was found to have analgesic effects operating through opioidergic pathways. 17 The ethanolic extract of B. monnieri relaxed smooth muscle preparations of guinea pig and rabbit pulmonary arteries, rabbit aorta, and guinea pig trachea by a mechanism that was postulated to involve prostacyclins. 23 The same investigators found spasmolytic effects of the ethanol extract in guinea pig ileum and rabbit jejeunum to be nonspecifically mediated through calcium channels. 24

Clinical data

No human trials have been performed.

Learning aid
Animal data

Oral treatment of rats with the extract of B. monnieri for 24 days facilitated their ability to learn mazes. 25 More recently, the extract was found to improve the performance of rats in various behavioral models of learning. 3

Clinical data

No effects were seen in cognitive function in 18 subjects. 26

Other uses

The saponins were found to have anthelmintic activity using C. elegans as a test organism. 14 They are also reported to be hemolytic. 27

Dosage

A single clinical trial of brahmi's effects on cognition reported a daily dose of 300 mg of extract. 26

Pregnancy/Lactation

Information regarding safety and efficacy in pregnancy and lactation is lacking.

Interactions

None well documented.

Adverse Reactions

Brahmi appears to be free of reported side effects. Its CNS actions do not include serious sedation, although the potentiation of chlorpromazine's effect on conditioned avoidance responses may indicate caution with phenothiazine coadministration. 22

Toxicology

Research reveals little or no information regarding toxicology with the use of this product.

Bibliography

1. The Wealth of India . Raw Materials. Vol.2:B, Publications & Information Directorate, CSIR, New Dehli, 2-3.
2. Tiwari V, et al. Shoot regeneration and somatic embryogenesis from different explants of Brahmi ( Bacopa monniera ). Plant Cell Rep 1998;17:538.
3. Singh H, et al. Effect of Bacopa monniera Linn. (brahmi) extract on avoidance responses in rat. J Ethnopharmacol 1982;5:205.
4. Chatterji N, et al. Chemical examination of Bacopa monniera Wettst.: Part I - Isolation of chemical constituents. Indian J Chem 1963;1:212.
5. Garai S, et al. Dammarane-type triterpenoid saponins from Bacopa monniera . Phytochemistry 1996;42:815.
6. Garai S, et al. Bacopasaponin D--a pseudojujubogenin glycoside from Bacopa monniera . Phytochemistry 1996;43:447.
7. Kulshreshtha D, et al. Identification of ebelin lactone from bacoside A and the nature of its genuine sapogenin. Phytochemistry 1973;12:2074.
8. Chatterji N, et al. Chemical examination of Bacopa monniera Wettst.: Part II - The constitution of bacoside A. Indian J Chem 1965;3:24.
9. Kawai K, et al. Crystal and molecular structure of bacogenin-A1 dibromoacetate. Acta Crystallogr 1973;B29:2947.
10. Kulshreshtha D, et al. Bacogenin-A1. A novel dammarane triterpene sapogenin from Bacopa monniera . Phytochemistry 1973;12:887.
11. Jain P, et al. Bacoside A1, a minor saponin from Bacopa monniera . Phytochemistry 1993;33:449.
12. Rastogi S, et al. Bacoside A3--a triterpenoid saponin from Bacopa monniera . Phytochemistry 1994;36:133.
13. Pal R, et al. Quantitative determination of bacoside by HPLC. Indian J Pharm Sci 1998;60:328.
14. Renukappa T, et al. Application of high-performance liquid chromatography coupled to nuclear magnetic resonance spectrometry, mass spectrometry and bioassay for the determination of active saponins from Bacopa monniera Wettst. J Chromatogr A 1999;847:109.
15. Brown I, et al. Constituents of Bacopa monnieri (L.) Pennell. J Chem Soc 1960;2783.
16. Schulte K, et al. Components of medicinal plants. XXXVI. Nicotine and 3-formyl-4-hydroxy- 2H-pyran from Herpestis monniera . Phytochemistry 1972;11:2649.
17. Vohora S, et al. Analgesic activity of bacosine, a new triterpene isolated from Bacopa monnieri . Fitoterapia 1997;68:361.
18. Ahmad S, et al. Amino acid analysis of Intellan , a herbal product used in enhancing brain function. Pak J Pharm Sci 1994;7:17.
19. Dey P, et al. Effect of psychotropic phytochemicals on cerebral amino acid levels in mice. Indian J Exp Biol 1966;4:216.
20. Singh H, et al. Effect of bacosides A and B on avoidance responses in rats. Phytother Res 1988;2:70.
21. Ganguly D, et al. Neuropharmacological and behavioral effects of an active fraction from Herpestis monniera . Indian J Physiol Pharmacol 1967;11:33.
22. Ganguly D, et al. Some behavioral effects of an active fraction from Herpestis monniera . Indian J Med Res 1967;55:473.
23. Dar A, et al. Relaxant effect of ethanol extract of Bacopa monniera on trachea, pulmonary artery and aorta from rabbit and guinea pig. Phytother Res 1997;11:323.
24. Dar A, et al. Calcium antagonistic activity of Bacopa monniera on vascular and intestinal smooth muscles of rabbit and guinea-pig. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;66:167.
25. Dey C, et al. Effect of some centrally active phyto products on maze-learning of albino rats. Indian J Physiol Allied Sci 1976;30:88
26. Stough C, Lloyd J, Clarke J, et al. The chronic effects of an extract of Bacopa monniera (Brahmi) on cognitive function in healthy human subjects. Psychopharmacology (Berl) . 2001;156:481-484.
27. Basu N, et al. Chemical examination of Bacopa monniera . ΙΙΙ. Bacoside B. Indian J Chem 1967;5:84.

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