Gotu kola Brahmi or vallarai keerai (வல்லாரை in Tamil) is a herb that is popular in India especially during exam time because it is believed to improve memory.
This herb with leaves shaped like a brain strengthens the nervous system and helps to prevent nervous disorders.
This is available in the market as dry powders (mix with water and drink it first thing in the morning), capsules / tablets and also as tonics and teas. But if you have access to fresh leaves, you are lucky as it is going to be more potent.
Indians are an academically inclined lot so Brahmi’s brain boosting ingredients make us ignore the not so palatable taste of the leaves. The taste is an acquired taste and is slightly bitter. So we cook it with lentils to make curry or grind with coconut to make chutney. The leaves can be stir fried and consumed just like spinach, cooked with moong dal just like methi / fenugreek leaves, made into a smoothie /ground into chutney (most common in south India).
Brahmi is consumed during times of stress and mental exhaustion. Unlike caffeinated drinks that can stimulate and later cause mental exhaustion, this calms us and reduces exhaustion. This is given to ladies after child birth to prevent or reduce the symptoms of postpartum depression.
Since this herb improves blood circulation, it is very helpful in preventing and reducing varicose veins and swelling in ankles.
Skin and hair
The ingredients in this leaf not only help us to focus during studying but it also enhances the overall health of skin and hair.
Most traditional Indian hair oils are infused with brahmi leaves. Applying hair oil infused with this herb not only helps hair to grow luxuriantly, it also helps to cool down the body and calm our brain. Tropical weather can cause hair loss because of excess body heat and sweating. A good hair massage with this oil can cool the body and the head.
This was once found abundantly everywhere in well watered Indian backyards. If you access to it now, do try it and share your thoughts with us.