Bacopa: An Ayurvedic Brain Food

Bacopa: An Ayurvedic Brain Food

Bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) is a wonderful herb that has been a highly praised rejuvenative for the brain for thousands of years and has long been a favorite of students as it enhances learning, concentration, and memory.

The benefits of bacopa abound—according to Ayurveda, bacopa calms and soothes the nervous system, supports the intellect, and maintains alertness and tranquility while providing energy to the brain.

Bacopa's tastes are both bitter and sweet and are especially good for pacifying pitta while also supporting vata and kapha. Its bitterness can increase vata in excess, so care must be taken if you have a vata imbalance. If you aren't sure of your dosha constitution or state of balance, you can take the Dosha quiz.

An important way bacopa supports mental well-being is by way of our emotional well-being. By calming and supporting sadhaka pitta, bacopa helps us to remain serene and content, as sadhaka pitta is the queen of our emotional flow.

Bacopa literally means “expansive state of awareness,” so it is excellent in helping us open our minds and calm our hearts.1 

Its popularity is growing outside of Ayurveda as well. Considered a nootropic, an herb that specifically benefits the brain and cognitive function, bacopa is a part of an increasing number of scientific studies.

For instance, Banyan's bacopa (among other Ayurvedic herbs) was included in a recent clinical trial that explored the prebiotic potential of nervines and nootropic herbs, with promising results.

Bacopa Tea for Concentration

Bacopa can be taken on its own as a powder, or mixed with other herbs as it is in this herbal tea recipe. 

When I was a student of Dr. Vasant Lad, he gave us the following formula to encourage our learning of the vast amount of material we were given and to support our equanimity in that process. We made this tea regularly while we were in school and drank it twice a day to support alertness, focus, concentration, and clarity.


Bacopa Tea for Concentration



You might also enjoy adding lemon balm, dried orange peel, or chamomile flowers.


Steep 1 teaspoon of the three-herb blend in 1 cup of hot water. Let it steep for 3–5 minutes or until desired strength, and strain. As the tea is bitter, it is nice to sweeten with your favorite sweetener.

Combining Bacopa and Brahmi/Gotu Kola

Bacopa is sometimes confused with brahmi/gota kola (Centella asiatica) as both herbs are known as brahmi in different parts of India. While the debate around the name continues, it can't be denied that both gotu kola and bacopa are wonderful partners. 

These two important herbs are often used in combination, balancing and enhancing each other's energetics to support the mind in both the young and old. They can be found together in a number of formulas, including Banyan's Mental Clarity tablets, Focus liquid extract, I Travel Well liquid extract, and Brahmi Oil, a simple yet potent combination of bacopa and brahmi/gotu kola in a base oil. 

Additional Tips for Memory and Focus

Taking herbs is one way to care for your well-being. To further support and nourish the mind, consider a mindfulness practice, meditation, and yoga asanas.2 Pranayama, a healthy daily routine, and diet that is right for your constitution are also recommended for supported well-being. 

Be loving to yourself. Take care of your whole self, especially in times of stress and hard work.

“It is very important that we re-learn the art of resting and relaxing. Not only does it help prevent the onset of many illnesses that develop through chronic tension and worrying, it allows us to clear our minds, focus, and find creative solutions to problems.”—Thich Nhat Hanh

Let bacopa be your partner in keeping calm and enjoying life, one moment at a time.

About the Author

Janet Shivani Chase, AP, LMT

Janet Shivani Chase is passionate about sharing the wisdom of Ayurveda and yoga with others. She will be forever grateful to her teachers, especially...

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1 Lad, Vasant, Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 3, Albuquerque, The Ayurvedic Press, 2012, p.335