Co-Creating Health with Bacopa
The profound effects of bacopa (Bacopa monnieri) are legendary. This herb is documented in ancient Indian texts as far back as the 6th century for being widely used to promote intellect and balance dis-ease of the mind.
Today, bacopa is still commonly used as a powerful brain tonic in the Ayurvedic pharmacopoeia, helping to improve mindfulness, revitalize consciousness, and maintain concentration.
Bacopa is a perennial creeping herb that grows in damp soils and marshes throughout the Indian subcontinent and parts of Southeast Asia. It has small, succulent green leaves with beautiful white flowers.
The Freshest Source
Bacopa’s thirsty water requirement means that it can be found growing alongside small streams, or next to village wells and washing areas that are often polluted. Traditionally collected from the wild, Banyan’s partners have worked with local farmers to create sustainable cultivation of bacopa, ensuring that it is grown in organic soils and irrigated with the purest water.
All of our bacopa currently comes from an organic farm in the Western Ghats, where it is grown in paddy fields irrigated by a stream that flows out of an ancient forest. Our partners there have spent years digging trenches in the forest to capture rainwater during the rainy season. This helps reduce run-off and recharges the water table. The stream, which used to dry up for a couple of months every summer, now flows all year round, quenching bacopa’s thirst with a perpetual source of pure forest water.
The Many Names of Bacopa
Bacopa (Bacopa monniera) is often confused with another herb that supports memory and concentration, gotu kola (Centella asiatica). The two herbs are not related, and they don’t share aesthetic similarities, but in India they are both known as brahmi, which causes the confusion. Banyan Botanicals belongs to the school of Ayurvedic thought that brahmi is Centella asiatica, not Bacopa monniera, which we refer to as simply bacopa.
|The Banyan Name||Bacopa||Brahmi/Gotu Kola|
|Botanical Name||Bacopa monniera||Centella asiatica|
In Sanskrit, bacopa is known as jalabrahmi, which means “water brahmi,” referring to its preference for growing in wet, boggy land. Whatever you may call it—brahmi, bacopa, or Bacopa monniera—this is a brain tonic relevant for anyone wanting a tip-top, all-functioning brain.
Taking Root: From Planting to Harvest
At our partner farms, one of the top criteria in designing a good growing system is to minimize the distance between the fields and the drying facilities. Bacopa is a great example of this; the plants are grown less than 32 feet from the dryer. This means that the vibrant properties of freshly-harvested bacopa can be captured and stored immediately.
Unlike most herbs which need to be planted and harvested at specific times of the year, bacopa can be propagated, planted, and harvested all year round, so long as it has sufficient irrigation and sunshine. As a result, bacopa provides a regular job for a few highly-trained people, who harvest and process relatively small quantities every few days throughout the year, rather than employing many people for a short period of time to help with one enormous harvest.
Banyan strongly believes in maintaining socially responsible relationships with farmers and is committed to following fair trade principles, which include paying above-market wages, investing in the education of the farmers, and giving back to their communities.