In This Article
Brahmi is touted as Ayurveda’s #1 stress + digestive herb, used for thousands of years to revitalize nerves and brain cells, which can help:
• Increase intelligence
• Increase longevity
• Increase memory
• Healthy aging
• Boost immunity
• Strengthen adrenals
• Improve sleep2
Recommendation: Take 500mg of raw organic or wild-crafted herb 3 times per day after food.*
As children, we cope with adversity by enduring emotional stress in the digestive system, most commonly manifesting as “tummy ache.”
Studies have now mapped this process by locating 95% of the body’s serotonin (a neurotransmitter that stabilizes mood) in a surprising place: only 5% is found in the brain and the rest is manufactured and located in the intestinal wall.1
As adults, we often struggle emotionally and then aim therapies at balancing brain chemistry, overlooking the role digestion plays in mental health.
New research has found that one of the most popular Ayurvedic nerve tonics helps improve stress tolerance, intelligence, immunity, memory, and sleep.
As if that weren’t enough, it also supports the repair of skin on the inside and outside of the body. This herb can also help support clean arteries and healthy lining of the stomach and intestines, all while boosting lymph drainage around the gut.
Read how this amazing herb helps balance the mind via the gut, all with the fascinating side benefit of protecting the body from ravages of stress.
Is Digestion Sabotaging Your Mental Health?
Stress, hard-to-digest foods, some medications, and a toxic world slowly compromise digestive strength. Stress produces stress-fighting neurotransmitters in the gut, which can overwhelm and inflame intestinal mucosa (skin lining the gut).
Once intestinal skin is inflamed, the ability to detoxify and assimilate nutrition needed for optimal mental health is compromised.
Lack of nutrient assimilation triggers cravings for those nutrients. This leads to overeating because the mind overstimulates hunger centers in the brain. As a result, typical American portions have gotten larger and larger in an attempt to gratify the mind. This nutritional strain stresses the nervous system and decreases overall tolerance to stress.
Since we process stress through the gut wall, this symptom of “intolerance to stress” further inflames the intestinal wall, compromising digestive efficiency and mental health. Western medicine often overlooks these digestive imbalances, when they can actually be underlying factors to stress intolerance.
QUIZ: Identify Digestive Weak Spots that May Be Caused by Stress
- Do you feel tired after meals?
- Do you regularly have a 2-4pm drag?
- Do you have trouble digesting wheat or dairy?
- Do you tend toward looser stools?
- Do you modify your diet or take supplements to keep regular?
- Do you finish your day exhausted?
- Do you crave sweets, coffee, chocolate, tea, chips, or other stimulating foods?
- Do you feel terrible after eating high-fat or greasy food?
- Do you ever get heartburn?
- Do you ever see mucus in your stool?
- Are you not satisfied with a meal unless you overeat?
- Do you feel the need to snack or graze throughout the day?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, this is an indication of digestive weakness that might be affecting your ability to handle stress.
Brahmi: Ayurveda’s #1 Stress + Digestive Herb
Brahmi (gotu kola or Centella asiatica) is touted as the most rejuvenating herb in Ayurveda. It has been used for thousands of years as the main herb for revitalizing nerve and brain cells. According to The Yoga of Herbs, brahmi:
- Increases intelligence
- Increases longevity
- Improves memory
- Promotes healthy aging
- Boosts immunity
- Strengthens adrenals2
Clinically, brahmi is such a great rejuvenative that I recommend it for sleep issues. It can be taken in the morning for energy and mental clarity, and also before bed for a good night’s sleep, because it gives you the energy you need to sleep through the night.
This is the sign of a true adaptogen: when an herb can wake you up OR allow the body to sleep, as appropriate.
The Stress-Skin Connection
As I have written in past articles, we have skin all over the inside of our bodies called epithelium. It wraps our body and lines our arteries, veins, heart, respiratory tract, and entire digestive system. Waste processed through this inner skin is drained by lymph.
If your skin is sagging, it’s likely that inner skin is also sagging. As we age, we lose adequate blood supply to the skin and distal tissues inside and out. Stress also compromises blood supply to skin and drainage of lymph. In addition, when we become tense, this tension cuts off optimal blood supply to skin all over the body.
Without optimal blood supply and lymph drainage, the body naturally lays down fibrous tissue or scar tissue, which can thicken skin, leading to a lack of needed blood supply, and resulting in thinner, more fragile skin over time.
Prior to thinning skin, though, we often experience tough, wrinkled, or weathered skin. Scar tissue is tough, non-elastic, thick, and doesn’t require much blood, making it a good Band-Aid for areas without adequate blood supply.
This is most notably seen in conditions where skin throughout the body (inside and out) thickens with scar tissue. In numerous studies, brahmi has shown to be an effective support for such conditions, as it remodels collagen production and reverses scar tissue production or thickening of the skin.3
In numerous studies reported in Alternative Medicine Review, brahmi has been found to boost microcirculation and lymph flow, which naturally promotes the health of all the body’s precious skin.8
As a lymph and skin agent, brahmi has shown effective in supporting oral hygiene and gum health for these same reasons. Brahmi is a lymph mover, helping in such concerns as cold hands and feet, swelling, and associated skin reactions.4,8
Because of brahmi’s support for both the brain and lymphatic system, taking Brahmi Brain before bed, when brain lymphatics drain toxins and plaque from cerebral spinal fluid, is an ideal time to get the benefits of healthy brain lymph drainage.
Digestive Tract Scar Tissue
As we age, intestinal skin endures emotional stress, toxic food, chemicals, pollutants, and preservatives and reacts by producing scar tissue. This scar tissue can render the gut with a diminished ability to digest, assimilate, and detoxify.
If you flattened all villi of the gut, they would cover an area as big as a tennis court. So one might think that we have many to spare . . . but do we? Unlike the air filter in your car, which is replaceable, we only get one set of intestinal villi.
Nature had a plan with seasonal, whole, non-processed foods to keep our intestinal skin healthy. Sadly, we have a food industry that has lost sight of the importance of our connection to nature.
Support for Acidic Digestion
Recently, brahmi has been found by one study to support the intestinal health of 64 elderly patients with occasional heartburn.5 This suggests that brahmi may play an important role in the stomach’s and intestine’s ability to heal themselves.
Studies like this indicate that brahmi may support the nervous system and brain function by helping heal and restore optimal function of intestinal tract skin.8
Brahmi Supports Healthy Arteries
In two 12-month clinical trials, brahmi stabilized both carotid and femoral artery plaque, measuring no increase in size. In one of these trials, brahmi was shown to support healthy collagen (elasticity) production in cerebral arteries and make plaque more stable via collagen modulation.6,7
Arterial plaque is another form of fibrous tissue or scar tissue proliferation. At the end of the study, patients taking brahmi with carotid artery plaque had cerebral imbalances only in 7% of cases, whereas the control group had cerebral imbalances in 17% of the cases.6 This may be due to brahmi’s traditional use as a brain tonic.
I believe we can all have the digestive strength and mental health of an 18-year-old. We can start by reversing cumulative damage of skin and lymph. Research suggests that brahmi is a valuable agent to support the body’s natural impulse to avoid intestinal wear and tear and resultant scar tissue formation while offering support to the nervous system and brain function.
For the protection of stress-induced scar tissue formation in the skin throughout the body, brahmi may offer useful support.
In today’s world of many stressors, does a more resilient gut-brain connection sound good to you? I normally suggest my patients take 500mg of raw organic or wildcrafted brahmi three times per day after food.
- Gershon MD. Curr Opin Gastroenterol 2000; 16:113-20. DO.
- Frawley, Lad. The Yoga of Herbs. Lotus Press. 1986. p. 173.
- Bonte F et al 1994; Maquart FX et al 1999; Widgerow AD et al. 2000.
- Guseva NG et al. 1998.
- Rhee J, Choi KW. Korean J Gastroenterol 1981; 13(1): 35-40.
- Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, Nicolaides AN et al. Angiology 2001; 52(Suppl 2): S19-S25.
- Incandela L, Belcaro G, Nicolaides AN et al. Angiology 2001; 52(Suppl 2): S69-S73.
- Alternative Medicine Review. Volume 12. Number 1. 2007. Monograph: Centella asiatica