Gotu kola

Gotu kola

Gotu kola, Centella asiatica, is a low growing evergreen with exceptional adaptogenic properties. It is traditionally used in Ayurveda and has gained popularity in Europe and the Americas.

FAMILY

Umbelliferae (carrot family)

OTHER NAMES

Indian pennywort, pennywort, Asiatic pennywort, swamp pennywort, spadeleaf, centella, Luei gong gen

PARTS USED

Traditionally the leaves are used medicinally but the whole plant can the used.

HABITAT

Gotu kola is found in moist places throughout India, parts of Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa and the South Pacific.

BOTANICAL DESCRIPTION

Gotu kola is a clonal perennial that thrives in and around water.

Height: 15 cm (6 in.)

Width: 22-30 cm (9-12 in.)

Flowers: white or light purple to pink

Leaves: green and fan-shaped; evergreen

Fruit: small and oval

Blooming time: July to August

CULTIVATION

Gotu kola thrives in swampy tropical and subtropical areas.

Hardiness: zone 8 – 9

Germination: seeds can be difficult to germinate in containers.

Spacing: 22-30 cm (9-12 in.)

Soil: moist

pH: 5.1-9.0 (strongly acidic to strongly alkaline)

Exposure: sun, partial shade and shade.

Propagation: rhizome division, corms and seeds

Garden Design: because of its very high moisture needs, gotu kola is a great addition to ponds and water gardens. It can be added to herb gardens providing the soil is water retentive.

HARVEST

Anytime of the year by clipping off the leaves.

DRYING

Gotu kola is best when used fresh but it can be dried for later use. Place the leaves on a flat surface in a well ventilated room away from direct sun light. Let dry until the leaves are crisp. Store the leaves in an air-tight container in a cool and dark place.

CONSTITUENTS

Triterpene sapogenins (asiaticoside, centelloside, madecassoside, madasiatic acid), flavonoids, amino acids, volatile oil, pantacyclic triterpene derivatives, brahmoside, brahminoside, glycosides (isothankuniside and thankuniside), plant sterols, tannins (20-25%), essential acid (0.1% with beta-chariophylen, trans-beta-pharnesen and germachrene D), phytosterols (campesterol, sitosterol, stigmasterol), mucilages, resins, free aminoacids (alanine, serine, aminobutyrate, aspartate, glutamate, lysine and treonine), flavonoids (derivates of chercetin and kempferol), an alkaloid (hydrochotine), a bitter component (vallerine), fatty acids (linoleic acids, linolnelic, oleic, palmitic and stearic acids)

PROPERTIES

Adaptogen, anti-inflammatory, alterative, anxiolytic, anti-rheumatic, depurative, febrifuge, hypotensive, neurotonic, nervine, nootropic, phlebotonic, skin tonic, vulnerary

ENERGETICS

Bitter, cooling

TASTE

Bitter, sweet, astringent

ODOR

Odorless

MEDICINAL USE OF GOTU KOLA

Gotu kola is a fantastic herb with adaptogenic properties. It is traditionally used as a tonic to balance the nervous system, improve memory and reduce anxiety.

When taken internally, it is a useful tonic, diuretic and cleansing herb for skin ailments such as stretch marks, wounds, scars, leprosy, psoriasis and eczema. It is also used for ulcers, varicose veins, fever, lupus, diarrhea and to improve blood circulation to the legs and feet.

When applied externally, gotu kola can be useful for psoriasis, eczema, wounds, scars, leprosy and to prevent stretch marks during pregnancy by applying an extract cream to the skin. It is also good for hemorrhoids and rheumatic joints.

Ayurveda: In Ayurveda, gotu kola is an important herb for revitalizing the nerves and brain cells, strengthening nervous function and memory.

Take internally for:

  • balancing the nervous system
  • memory enhancement
  • intellectual performance
  • circulation in the legs (infusion)
  • stretch marks
  • wounds
  • scars
  • leprosy
  • psoriasis and eczema
  • veins (as a vein tonic and for varicose veins)
  • varicose ulcers
  • fever
  • lupus
  • diarrhea
  • strangury (painful, frequent and slow urination that drips despite a sense of urgency)

Topic application for:

  • lactation
  • psoriasis (use infusion directly on the skin)
  • eczema
  • leprosy
  • stretch marks (prevention)
Daily Dosage
  • tincture: (1:2): 20-40 drops, three times per day.
  • infusion: 0.6 g dried leaf, three times per day. Steep 1/2 tsp. of herb in half cup (125 ml) of hot water for 30-40 minutes. Strain and drink up to four times per day. Alternatively, make one liter (4 cups) and drink 125 ml (half a cup) at a time, four times per day. Since gotu kola is bitter, it is a good idea to mix it with other herbs and/or add honey and lemon to improve the tea’s flavor.
HOMEMADE PREPARATIONS
  • infusion
  • juice
  • pesto
  • salads (a few leaves)
CULINARY USE

Gotu kola is widely used in several Asian cuisines such as, Myanmar, Sri Lankan, Indonesian, Thai, Malay, Vietnamese, Bangladeshi and Indian.
The Siddhars deem it important in “Food is Medicine, Medicine is Food” (Unave Marunthu, Marunthe Unavu) concept. In Indian, gotu kola is used in home cooking is dishes such as curries and chutneys.
Pennywort juice is drink of gotu kola, sugar and water and it is used to enhamce energy and concentration.

SIDE EFFECTS

People who are sensitive to gotu kola may experience skin rashes, upset stomach and nausea.

In high dosages, it can cause headaches and palpitations.

It may increase the effects of barbiturates, sedatives and analgesics.

CONTRA-INDICATIONS

Sensitivity or allergy to gotu kola.

Use it cautiously during pregnancy.

COSMETICS

Gotu kola is one of the ingredients in the expensive stretch mark cream “StriVectin SD”.

Gotu kola

References
Winston, D. Maimes, S. 2007. Adaptogens: Herbs for strength, stamina, and stress relief. Rochester: Healing Arts Press

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