We are all aware of Brahmi because of Brahmi Amla Kesh Thel (Brahmi – Gooseberry – hair oil) that is manufactured by leading cosmetic brands in India. Botanical name of Ondelaga – Brahmi – Gotu Kola is Centella Asiatica and belongs to Apiaceae. Other common names are Asiatic Pennywort or Indian Pennywort.
I have seen Brahmi growing in near streams running parallel to the road on the way to Vardahalli. Saw these lovely plants growing along with ferns and lichens in Havelock Island, Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Generally grows in wet places.
Brahmi is an herb native to India, Sri Lanka, South East Asia, and Northern Australia. It is known as Gotu Kola in Sri Lanka, Sarswathi aku in Telugu, Kudangal in Malayalam, Thankuni in Bengali, Mandukaparni in Sanskrit, Vallaarai in Tamil; Brahmi Booti in Hindi;
Brahmi stems are slender and creep on the ground. New roots shoot when the stem comes in contact with the ground.
The leaves are green and round with veins. Around 2 cm in diameter they are solo at every node and hence the Kannada name Ondelaga (one leaf). The flowers are small around 3mm and bloom in single or in bunches, pinkish to red in color. The fruit is also small and ribbed.
Picture above taken in Singapore Botanical Gardens
Ayurvedic, African, and Chinese medicine use Brahmi to improve mental ability. It is also used to treat infections, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, syphilis, common cold, tuberculosis, skin diseases, asthma, Jaundice, type 2 Diabetes, anxiety, headaches, . A tea prepared using Brahmi can be taken as a night cap for a restful sleep.
Brahmi leaves are used to make hair oil. The leaves are also used to cook a dish known as Thambuli in Karnataka. A drink known as Bai bua bok is prepared in Thailand. Dishes like Malluma and Kola Kenda are prepared in Sri Lanka using Brahmi leaves. Dishes using Brahmi is also prepared in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malasia, Thailand, and Bangladesh.