Also called the smooth water hyssop, Bacopa monnieri is an aquatic plant native to Florida and other areas of the American South, according to the Center for Aquatic and Invasive Plants at the University of Florida. It's a small herb that spreads in both fresh water and water that is brackish. Bacopa resembles a succulent, with thick, fleshy leaves 5/8 inch long and 1/8 inch wide. This plant is sometimes used for medicinal purposes.
Called Brahmi in the East Indian Ayurvedic medical tradition, the plant has been studied for its reputed ability to help humans with memory problems. Reported in 2002 in the Journal Neuropsychopharmacology, a study concluded that a "significant" effect occurred on the test subjects' ability to retain new information. This study did not show that Bacopa had any effect on learning rates. The study also showed that anxiety levels of test subjects were not affected when they used this plant.
Laxative and Calming Effects
Ayurvedic medical practitioners in India have used Brahmi to cleanse the human body by acting as a laxative, according to Purdue University. Natural Health Web reports that this plant reduces nervousness and stress and that it is used to help those with insomnia to fall asleep. If you take a large enough dose of this herb, it causes a feeling of "deep peace," according to the herbalist Michael Tierra on his website Planet Herbs. Tierra reports further that 1 tsp. of Bacopa tincture taken at bedtime results in a full night's sleep without a "drugging effect."
Treatment for ADHD
In 2003, the Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, published in Port Townsend, Washington, reported that 31 percent of Australian herbal practitioners used Bacopa for treating attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). It is believed this herb benefits a person's ability to concentrate and process information. This Journal also reported that cognitive function was studied in 46 human subjects and that the herb "significantly improved" the speed at which the subjects were able to process visual information. The results also showed that Bacopa can cause fatigue, nausea and dry mouth.
Aquarium hobbyists sometimes use Bacopa for its attractive, small white to light blue flowers. It's reported to be easy to care for and long-lived. The website Aqua Botanic Store reports that Bacopa monnieri is also called moneywort. In aquariums, it grows up to 12 inches long, but it needs lots of light, which you can provide with an artificial bulb. It is useful in tanks where the owner wants to cover the back side to make the appearance more pleasing. If other plants are included in the same aquarium, this site recommends keeping your Bacopa cut short so it allows light to reach the other plants.