From brahmi and ashwagandha: Herbs that kill stress, improve memory

India is one of those countries where herbs have been used extensively as therapeutic tools in all walks of life. We've grown up with ours grandmothers prescribing medicinal herbs for all kinds of illnesses. As children, we were never sure about anything that looked green and leafy as far as taste was concerned, but we were sure thatit would eventually work towards the betterment of our health. 

As India continues to develop, various new alternative medicines and therapies have become popular and mainstream. Rise in disposable income allows today's consumer to be health conscious and get the best care possible. But this prosperity and rise in our incomes has also come at a cost. In a recent survey, people in Indian cities ranked high in terms of the ability to feel stressed. Stress is one of the biggest silent killers of the current generation with its effects leading to other prominent diseases responsible for fatalities like heart attack and stroke. Remember the funny sensation in the chest as you get stuck in a traffic jam or get reminded of an impending deadline? That sensation is cortisol building up in your body. Cortisol, along with adrenaline, are two of the 'bad' hormones produced by our endocrine system, mostly as a fight or flight response to stress in our modern day to day lives. Is there a solution that our ancient sages and grandmothers had foreseen for this modern day killer called stress?

Indeed, there is. The answer lies in nature. 

Herbs like brahmi and ashwagandha were known as medhyarasayana, a drug known to improve memory and intellect. Together, they act as a nerve tonic and serve the function of both stimulating as well as calming our nervous system. Ashwagandha derives its name from a horse and this ancient herb was often prescribed to provide strength. It is known to reduce the level of cortisol in the body and increase the production of other hormones in the body, thereby maintaining hormonal balance. It is also known to add vitality to one's life. A recent clinical trial studied the effects of ashwagandha on muscle mass and strength in young men who do resistance training, and the result was that it lead to an increase in muscle mass and strength. It is also a remedial cure for insomnia. Overall, ashwagandha is an adaptogen, stress buster and a revitiliser. 

Brahmi, known scientifically as BacopaMonieri and botanically as centellaasiatica, is a wonder herb known to stimulate memory and cognitive ability. It also  improves behavioural alteration and prevent oxidative damage.

Sometimes, there are benefits to old wine being packaged in a new bottle. In today's time, the availability of ayurvedic cigarettes, herb coolers and infused teas mean that herbs can be smoked, brewed or blended for today's generation of millennials, making them appealing and trendy. The addition of herbs into our diet through these mechanisms can help us live a calm and balanced life.

Harish Mohan, Founder, Sipwise Beverages Vadodara, Gujarat

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