As a school going girl in India, my mother got me into the habit of hair oil massage before every hair wash. Weekdays were with coconut oil (boiled with curry leaves) and Saturday nights with the famous Bhringraj oil that most 90s kids will resonate with. It was a tradition passed down from her childhood into mine. For the longest time, I thought Bhringraj and Brahmi oil were the same until a few months ago when I transitioned to Ayurveda for hair care routine. However, I distinctly remember my mom using Brahmi hair packs for hair strength and softness. Until then, although I used ayurvedic hair oil for maintaining a healthy, thick mane, I always washed and conditioned them with famous commercial shampoos laden with parabens, sulfates and what not. My mother tried to encourage me to use natural shampoos like reetha and shikakai. Still, I could not bring myself to it as I am someone who likes fragrant shampoos.
But now, with every passing year, I understand the importance of natural and minimalistic life. I am taking one step in the natural direction to reduce as many chemicals as possible from my daily life. Back in the day, only the oil was honest when it came to hair care. Now I have successfully transitioned to using a natural shampoo for cleansing my hair. Hopefully, the next step will be to find a natural conditioner that suits my hair.
Difference between Brahmi and Bhringraj
Like myself, I assume most people may confuse Brahmi with Bhringraj and vice versa. Let's get the basics sorted out and then dive into the benefits Brahmi brings to the table. For starters, to simplify, both of these herbs originate from different plants and flowers.
Bhringraj belongs to the sunflower family, and Brahmi is extracted from the Bacopa Monnieri plant that borns small white flowers.
Some people confuse Gotu kola with Brahmi, but we have covered what Gotu kola is and its benefits in a different blog altogether.
The scientific name of Brahmi is Bacopa monnieri, and it is also known as water hyssop or the 'herb of grace. It is considered the top contender medicinal herb in the world of Ayurveda. It is a non-aromatic plant with oblong, succulent leaves and small white flowers. It grows in wet, tropical environments and slightly brackish conditions, with the capability to develop underwater as well.
The entire plant, from its leaves to flowers, is therapeutic attributed to its chemical composition. It contains a group of intense compounds called bacosides, a kind of triterpenoid saponins that positively affects the body. I know none of us will understand these compounds. Still, in case anyone has curiosity, we have made the information available to you.
This bitter-sweet herb has essential alkaloids with various numerous organic compounds that help achieve overall wellness. Brahmi is also well known for enhancing brain functions, improving memory and promoting deep sleep. Although I have never taken Brahmi for such purposes, I know some friends who have consumed ayurvedic Brahmi syrups and powders to sharpen focus for exams and sound sleep.
Brahmi also contains calcium, zinc, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium that help with hair problems.
Health Benefits of Brahmi
As per Ayurvedic medicine, Brahmi oil soothes pitta, the fire element of the three doshas. In the Ayurvedic tradition, knowing one's dosha helps one understand what activities, foods, and lifestyle elements can support and nurture optimum health and what may cause imbalance.
According to Ayurvedic principles, excess pitta contributes to inflammation, sleep difficulties, skin issues, gastrointestinal discomforts, and stress-related problems such as high blood pressure.
Traditionally, people use Brahmi oil to help treat health problems such as but not limited to:
- Alopecia areata
Although there is a long history of Brahmi oil, there is no research supporting these claims. There have been very few studies investigating the two primary ingredients of Brahmi oil.
The herb is also known to reduce cortisol - a stress hormone produced in the human body due to fatigue or overburdening.
Brahmi oil is used as a natural remedy for having healthy hair, supporting hair growth. It is a traditional Indian hair care method for treating hair loss and generating regrowth. The oil is derived from Brahmi Leaves and is massaged onto the scalp to help with blood circulation.
How does it help?
- Brahmi leaves provide strength and nourishment through the scalp and prevent split ends at the tip of the hair
- The presence of alkaloids in Brahmi bind to hair proteins, thus producing stronger and thicker hair follicles
- The oil extracted from Brahmi leaves is one of the best ayurvedic herbs for thinning hair or weak strands that lead to breakage and baldness
- It conditions the hair root to the tips, which takes care of a lot of hair issues such as dryness and dandruff
Hair benefits of Brahmi
Hair fall reduction
The application of Brahmi powder to the hair regularly keeps the natural hair well-nourished. This humble herb offers many hair-friendly nutrients that strengthen the roots. It is also known to keep the scalp and head cool, allowing the hair follicles to grow seamlessly.
Reduced dandruff and itchiness
As suggested earlier, Brahmi nourishes the scalp by inducing enough hydration to care for dryness and prevent itchiness caused due to dryness or dandruff.
Essential Tips to Use Brahmi for Hair
While planning to apply Brahmi as a home remedy to make your hair naturally strong, you can use it in the form of powder or oil. However, note the following points before opting for any of the methods:
- The powder is readily available in the market. However, make sure it is of good quality and pure. You can also prepare it at home. Sundry some fresh Brahmi leaves, turn them into a fine powder and store them in an airtight container.
- Oil is also available in the market. However, make sure you purchase good quality and a pure one. Most brands come mixed with other herbs such as amla oil, neem etc. Using these can be equally beneficial for the health of your hair, but opt for a homemade Brahmi oil if you wish to use it individually.
Additional Benefits Offered By Brahmi
Some of the other benefits of Brahmi are listed below:
- It is considered a potent tonic/supplement for the brain and the nerves as it is high in antioxidants
- It is excellent for enhancing brain functions and keeping a sharp memory
- Joint pain and fever are other health conditions that can be cured with the help of this herb
- It is known to reduce stress and anxiety when consumed
Common Questions Answered
Does Brahmi Darken Hair?
Brahmi powder keeps your scalp healthy and nourished and by taking overall care of the hair and turns them thicker and gorgeous. While the herb alone cannot help you much with grey hair, combining it with other herbs like amla, neem, tulsi, etc., addresses the concern for sure. However, it will not reverse greyed hair.
Can one consume Brahmi leaves?
From Vedic times, Brahmi has been considered a highly effective medicinal herb. The leaves can be chewed directly, used fresh in various salads, or combined dried and ground with other herbs to be used as a herb mixture. It helps keep several health issues at bay, such as stress, anxiety, arthritis, joint pain, weak immunity, poor memory, Alzheimer's disease, etc.
The herb is an essential food item for Himalayan yogis deep in meditation as it rejuvenates the mind.
Are there any Side Effects of Brahmi?
Usually, using Brahmi powder no side effects. But when it comes to Brahmi consumption, one needs to be careful. Overconsumption of the herb may cause adverse effects like stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, increased bowel movements, fatigue etc.
Can some other herbs be used in alternative to Brahmi for stress and disturbed sleep?
Several natural solutions can offer health effects similar to the benefits of Brahmi oil. For instance, valerian and kava herbs help alleviate anxiety and promote healthy sleep. Even ashwagandha may benefit from reducing stress and promoting sound sleep.
What are some other ways to soothe pitta energy?
Many Ayurveda practitioners recommend using cooling foods such as cucumbers and melons. Getting a massage, practising stress management techniques, and performing certain yoga poses (including standing forward bends and inversions) also calm pitta energy.
What are some other substitute remedies to improve hair health?
Apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, biotin help treat dandruff. Amla oil is also quite well known to improve hair strength.
While research on amla oil's health effects is lacking, Ayurveda practitioners suggest that it can help condition the hair, treat dry scalp, promote hair growth, and slow the premature hair greying.
Authored by: Padmaja Rai
About the Author: Padmaja is a healthcare consultant and avid fitness enthusiast. She holds a masters' in bio-innovation and rare diseases from University of Pennsylvania. She is a firm believer in ancient Indian holistic healing.