1) Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi)
The most well known and widely used herb in India, bacopa monniera (brahmi), is a perennial evergreen shrub native to India. It grows up to 2 meters tall with a spreading habit and bears white flowers in spring.
Its leaves are long, narrow, oval or ovate, dark green and hairy at the base. They have a mild bitter taste when crushed.
In ancient times it was considered sacred and its bark was used as a medicine to treat various ailments such as headaches, insomnia, depression, fatigue and many others. It has been reported that bacopa monniera may also prevent cancer cells from dividing.
Bacopa monnieri has been shown to reduce blood pressure in hypertensive patients and increase heart rate in those suffering from palpitations. It has also been found to decrease blood sugar levels in diabetic patients.
It is believed that bacopa monniera helps in regulating the nervous system and improving memory function. In addition, it has been shown to improve mood and concentration in Alzheimer’s disease patients.
It is thought that bacopa monnieri may protect against cardiovascular diseases like angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, stroke and coronary artery disease. It also improves heart and lung function.
The active ingredients in bacopa monnieri are alkaloids, flavonoids, saponins and minerals. The primary alkaloid is anabasine, a nicotinic antagonist that has been shown to protect against chemical poison, radiation and white blood cell destruction.
Other alkaloids include brahmine, cytisine and catalepsy.
Its exact mechanism of action is not known, but it has been shown to increase the activity of acetylcholine in the brain and also block certain glutamate channels that are activated by excess glutamate.
Brahmi is a very popular herb in traditional Indian medicine. Its name means God in Sanskrit.
It does have a very long history of use in traditional Indian medicine. The exact mechanism of action of bacopa monnieri has not been fully understood yet, but it is known to be an effective nerve tonic that helps improve memory and learning. It also protects against several neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and senile dementia by improving cerebral blood flow and reducing the oxidative damage caused by free radicals.
It is also believed to increase the length of time before an action potential is induced within a nerve fiber and it increases the threshold of the neuron or nerve cell that must be reached before a signal can be transmitted. It has been found to increase the number of neurotransmitters within the synapses such as serotonin, dopamine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).
A standardized extract of bacopa monnieri protects animals from several types of poisoning. The toxin fluoride causes concentration of fluoride within the bones to significantly increase.
This leads to loss in bone matter, defects in development and brittle bones. An extract of bacopa monnieri reduces this effect. It also protects against the effects of alcohol by increasing the rate that the body excretes it and reducing its overall toxic effect on the liver.
The herb has been found to be very effective in treating Altzheimer’s disease. It has been shown to regenerate damaged nerve endings, particularly in the case of those suffering from Alzhiemer’s disease.
A standardized extract of bacopa monnieri has also been used in enhancing memory and learning ability. It has also been used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is also thought to increase the effectiveness of some cancer drugs.
Bacopa monnieri has numerous benefits to a person’s overall well-being. It can be effectively used as a brain tonic and to improve mental functioning and clarity.
It is a safe and effective herb that should be an important part of everyone’s daily health regimen.
Side effects and cautions:
Taking bacopa monnieri orally is very safe. The maximum dosage is six 600 mg doses per day.
Long term use of this herb does not seem to have any negative side effects.
None have been noted.
Taking bacopa monnieri with the following medicines can increase their effects. This combination needs to be monitored by your doctor.
Blood thinners such as warfarin (Coumadin).
This combination can increase the effects of both drugs.
Antidepressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and others.
This combination may increase levels of serotonin too much causing side effects.
Blood pressure medicines such as hydralazine, clonidine, methyldopa
This combination can increase hydralazine levels in the body.
Mood stabilizers such as lithium.
The sedative effects of bacopa may increase the effects of lithium.
Appetite suppressants or diet pills such as phentermine.
The effects of both drugs may be increased causing serious problems.
Do not take bacopa monnieri if:
You have a history of depression or other psychiatric conditions.
You are taking any of the drugs listed above.
The combination increases the risk of seizures.
Pregnant or nursing mothers should not take bacopa monnieri except under the guidance of their physician.
It may cause low birth weight, and other problems in the child.
Bacopa monnieri may interfere with fertility.
Do not give bacopa monnieri to children.
Bacopa monnieri is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately by adults and children over 6 years of age. When bacopa monnieri is taken by mouth daily by adults there is usually no side effects.
Some adults have reported gastrointestinal (stomach and bowel) problems such as nausea, diarrhea, and bloating. Other less common side effects include fatigue, headache, and nose bleeds.
Bacopa monnieri is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in high doses during pregnancy. There is a chance that it could cause birth defects.
Not enough is known about the safety of using bacopa monnieri while breastfeeding.
If you are taking any prescription medications, consult your physician before taking bacopa monnieri. This includes vitamins and supplements as well as prescription drugs.
In addition, people with the following medical condition should avoid taking this supplement:
Seizure disorders (Bacopa may lower the seizure threshold)
It is best to avoid using bacopa monnieri if you have a history of depression or other psychiatric conditions.
Possible Drug Interactions:
Bacopa may increase the effects of blood pressure lowering medications.
Bacopa may increase the effects of sedatives and other central nervous system (CNS) depressants.
Possible Interactions with Herbs and Nutrients:
Bacopa may increase the effects of blood thinners. People who take warfarin (Coumadin) or other similar medications should avoid using bacopa.
Bacopa may increase the effects of antidepressants. This combination may require lower doses of the antidepressant to alleviate symptoms of depression.
Bacopa may increase the effects of drugs used for Parkinson’s disease.
Bacopa may increase the effects of mood altering drugs.
Bacopa may interfere with fertility and reproduction by altering hormone levels.
There is a chance that bacopa may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives. There is a lack of research in this area.
Speak with your physician before combining hormonal contraceptives with bacopa.
Bacopa may lower blood sugar levels. Diabetes patients should be aware of this effect and monitor their blood glucose levels closely.
Bacopa may increase the anti-inflammatory activity of the herb Devil’s Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens).
Bacopa is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth during pregnancy. It may cause birth defects.
Not enough is known about the safety of using bacopa when breastfeeding. Don’t use bacopa during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.
Bacopa is POSSIBLY UNSAFE when taken by mouth in children under 6 years of age. There is a risk of irregular heartbeat and other serious complications.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa after surgery. Stop using bacopa at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa when suffering from bipolar disorder.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa for Parkinson’s disease.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa in people with end stage kidney disease.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa when suffering from high blood pressure.
There is not enough information about the safety of using bacopa when suffering from liver disease.
Combining bacopa with other CNS depressant drugs may result in additive effects and undesired side effects.
8 Health Benefits of Black Pepper
Baking soda has been used as a leavening agent in cakes and cookies and improving the taste of tomato soups for over a century now. But, this simple substance does a lot more than just that!
It has been used for treating insect bites, softening hard water, and relieving sore muscles just to name a few of its surprising uses. You can get baking soda from the grocery store, but you may also wish to try growing your own with these 7 varieties of peppercorns that grow on trees.
Black pepper is most commonly known as a spice used to flavor meals.
But, did you know that it has been used to treat a number of medical ailments for hundreds of years?
Here are just a few surprising uses for black pepper:
1. Sooth Bee and Insect Bites
Applying black pepper to bee stings and some types of insect bites can help reduce the pain. It is also believed to help reduce the swelling and itching that is caused by these bites.
2. Cure Hiccups
Hiccups are often frustrating and sometimes embarrassing. They can also be rather persistent, but pouring a little black pepper on your fingers and then licking them can help stop these spasms.
The flavor of the pepper seems to trick your brain into forgetting to hiccup.
3. Improve Dandruff
Black pepper can be used as a massage treatment for dry and itchy scalps. It can help to relieve symptoms of dandruff by exfoliating the skin and removing any dry or dead cells.
4. Relieve Muscle Spasms
Pepper can help to soothe aching muscles by easing muscle spasms. It does this by stimulating the same receptors that are used during the act of vomiting, which is one of the reasons that pepper is used in some treatments for nausea.
5. Speed Up Healing
Applying a paste made from black pepper to wounds has been shown to help speed up the healing process and reduce scarring. It is believed that this is due to the presence of piperine, which is known to have antibacterial properties.
6. Treat Jock Itch
Jock itch is an infection or irritation of the skin in the groin area, and it often causes a rather persistent and irritating itching sensation.
Sources & references used in this article:
Natural products as sources of new drugs over the period 1981− 2002 by DJ Newman, GM Cragg, KM Snader – Journal of natural products, 2003 – ACS Publications
Biomimetic Total Synthesis of (±)‐Pallavicinolide A by JQ Dong, HNC Wong – Angewandte Chemie, 2009 – Wiley Online Library
The role of anesthesia in surgical mortality by RD Dripps, A Lamont, JE Eckenhoff – Jama, 1961 – jamanetwork.com
Natural plant chemicals: sources of industrial and medicinal materials by MF Balandrin, JA Klocke, ES Wurtele… – Science, 1985 – science.sciencemag.org