Brahmi and vallarai are two well-known memory enhancing herbs used widely in Siddha and Ayurveda systems. In short, they are natural brain boosters. Others include arugampul, ashwagandha, moringa flower and jujube fruit. Here are the details of these foods for brain health.
Brahmi is a popular memory enhancer, a memory boosting food that was used widely in Ayurveda. Though in some parts of north India, vallarai is erroneously regarded as brahmi, the herb with the botanical name of Bacopa monnieri is the brahmi referred to in Ayurveda manuscripts. The difference between these two herbs lies in the form and structure of the leaf. Brahmi leaves are more succulent and thicker than vallarai leaves. Like the vallarai, brahmi also grows in marshy wetlands.
How to use
- Dry the brahmi leaves and powder them.
- Mix 2-3 gm of the powder in honey and take twice a day. Brahmi powder is available in capsule form in Ayurveda and Siddha stores.
- Brahmi leaf kashayam (decoction) can strengthen the nerves, thus helping you stay fresh throughout the day. To make the kashayam, boil a handful of fresh clean brahmi leaves in 2 glasses of water. Reduce the water to one glass and allow it to cool. Give your child half a glass to drink, twice a day.
Vallarai (Centella asiatica) is regarded as a kayakalpa herb in Siddha medicinal system. Vallarai is called mandookaparani (frog’s leg) in Sanskrit as the leaves resemble the legs of a frog. These creepers grow in shades near lakes and water bodies in a cool temperate climate. It is widely used as a brain food for memory.
Vallarai has been used as a memory booster because of its ability to relieve tension and anxiety. It has diuretic properties and is used in treating stomach pain, mouth ulcers and bowel disorders. It is an ideal brain food during exams. Other uses include:
- curing skin diseases
- purifying blood
- fortifying liver
- treating constipation and haemorrhoids
- expelling intestinal worms
- curing cough and cold
How to use
Dry vallarai leaves in the shade and powder them. Take a pinch (2-3 gm) of dried vallarai leaves with honey or milk. The young and the old can take this twice a day (morning and evening) to improve their cognitive skills and memory power. It lowers their anxiety, and keeps them calm and collected. Another option is to take fresh raw vallarai leaves (5-6 leaves) in the morning, and make your child chew them thoroughly and then swallow them.
Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) is a well-known stress-buster and memory enhancer. Recent studies have shown it to be helpful in treating Alzheimer’s and dementia. In fact, ashwagandha is a rejuvenator par excellence that can bestow overall good health. It is also used in Ayurveda to treat:
- skin cancer
- renal cancer
- ill-effects of chronic stress
How to use
The root is purified by boiling it in milk a couple of times, then dried and powdered. Ashwagandha is available as a powder and also as a lehyam (herbal paste) in Ayurveda stores. Mix a teaspoon of the powder in a glass of warm milk and make your child take it twice a day, or give him a spoonful of lehyam followed by a glass of warm milk.
Moringa flower is a storehouse of vitamins and amino acids. The moringa tree (drumstick), found all over India, is regarded as a Brahma vriksha by Siddha saints. All parts of the moringa tree – root, bark, leaves, and flowers – have medicinal properties. The moringa flower helps with concentration and with clear vision.
How to use
Collect 10-15 moringa flowers and boil them in a glass of milk for a minute or two. To this, add palm sugar as needed. Give your child to drink this 4-5 times a week in the morning. This drink:
- helps improve memory
- treats eye irritation caused by prolonged TV and computer usage
- strengthens the nervous system
- keeps your child fit and healthy
Arugampul (Cynodon dactylon) or dhoorva is a tenacious grass that withstands drought only to spring back into life after a rainy shower or two. Also known as Bermuda grass, it is a great detoxifier as well as immune-modulator. It neutralizes acidity, improves digestion. Arugampul also helps in concentration and mental sharpness.
How to use
Extract the juice of thoroughly washed fresh arugampul leaves. Add water or tender coconut water (twice the quantity of the extract) to dilute the juice. Give this to your child early in the morning on an empty stomach.
Jujube fruit (elanthai pazham in Tamil) is used in Siddha, Unani and Ayurveda to soothe the mind and calm the nerves. Chronic stress and tension can lead to memory impairment. A natural brain booster, jujube helps reverse this condition. Decoction of the fruit has been found to help improve memory.
How to use
- Remove seeds from 10-15 numbers of jujube fruit and collect the flesh. Add four glasses of water to this and boil till it is reduced to two glasses. Allow it to cool. Add honey or palm jaggery as needed to this preperation and take it in the morning. Regular intake for a month or two improves memory, while supplementing the vitamin and mineral needs of the body.
- Elanthai vadai is a well-known preparation available in Siddha pharmacies. This is made from dried jujube fruit, palm candy or jaggery, tamarind and red chillies. Taken in moderation (5-10 gm a day), elanthai vadai stimulates appetite and aids digestion, helps memory.
We are sure this list of brain foods is going to give your grey matter a boost.
Shaiju Joseph collates information on ayurveda and siddha systems of healing from Malayalam and Tamil books, and from vaids, as a hobby.