Gotu Kola is a revered medicinal herb in Ayurveda and one of the top ten anti-aging plants. It is a mild adaptogen, a powerful brain tonic, and an excellent source of bioactive compounds that boost all functions of the immune system. Gotu Kola benefits and enhances all four pillars of cognition, i.e. Focus, Learning, Retention, and Recall!
Gotu Kola is also known as Indian pennywort, Mandukaparni, Brahmi, Tholkuri, and its scientific name is Centella Asiatica. It is a small creeping herb and grows well in the warmer regions across the world. The plant prefers damp and shady places and it can be commonly seen along the banks of rivers, streams, ponds, and irrigated fields.
It is a tropical medicinal plant native to Southeast Asian countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, China, Indonesia, and Malaysia as well as South Africa and Madagascar. It is also cultivated in Turkey for its medical importance.
The plant consists of yellowish-green leaves, alternating with long petioles with seven veins. Leaves of the plant are edible and commonly used in salads, juices, and stir-fries across South-East Asian countries.
Gotu Kola in Ayurveda
- Taste (Rasa) – Bitter (Tikta), Astringet (Ksaya), and Sweet (Madhura)
- Attributes (Guna): Light (Laghu) and Mobile (Sara)
- Effect on Body (Virya): Cooling (Sheeta)
- Post Digestive Effect or Taste (Vipaka): Sweet (Madhura)
- Overall Effect on Body and Mind (Prabhava): Promotes Intellect (Medhya)
Gotu Kola Benefits and Active Compounds
In terms of nutrients, Gotu Kola is rich in multiple:
- Bioactive compounds such as Triterpene Saponosides, Flavonoids, Phenolic acid, and Essential oils
- Essential and complex carbohydrates as Polysaccharides
- Vitamins as Vitamin C
- Minerals as Calcium, Iron, and Phosphorus.
Gotu Kola benefits not only the brain, but it also has many other medicinal effects. Its roots and leaves protect and promote healthy veins, and blood vessels, and boost the Immunity.
- Anti-inflammatory – It prevents and heals inflammation. Since our diet and environment is heavy in inflammation promoting elements, Gotu Kola is a great addition to fight off their effect.
- Anticonvulsant and Sedative – It calms the mind and prevents hyperactivity in children and adults.
- Hepato-protective – It helps flush the toxins out, prevents oxidation of fats, and hence protects liver.
- Cardio-protective – Protects the heart and peripheral functions for its rich profile of antioxidants.
- Anti-diabetic – Promotes insulin sensitivity and lowers the load on body organs such as Pancreas and the liver.
Powerful Brain Tonic – Central nervous system effects
Gotu Kola revitalizes the brain and the nervous system. It increases the attention span and concentration. The plant is rich in antioxidants that protect the brain from oxidation and also simulate the growth of white matter (responsible for memory and retention).
Regular consumption (4-6 weeks) of Gotu Kola is known to promote brain function, reduce anxiety, and to treat insomnia in Ayurveda. It is a powerful herb in the treatment of Epilepsy. Its protective action can help prevent age related neural disorders as Alzheimer’s and Parkinsons Disease.
Topical application of paste or extract of the leaves of Gotu Kola has been studied to help in faster healing of the wounds. It increases cellular proliferation and collagen synthesis at the wound site. This helps with faster contraction of the wounds and also suppression of scar formation. It also helps to increase the quality of newly formed skin at the wound site.
Prevents and Heals Gastric Ulcers
Gotu Kola has been studied to prevent and help heal gastric lesions produced due to faulty diet, lifestyle, and stress. It strengthens the gastric mucosal barrier and also prevents damage from free radicals. The extract of the leaves has anti-ulcer effect at dosage 600mg/Kg and it significantly enhances production of gastric mucin.
Additionally, it has anti-inflammatory effect and promotes ulcer healing by inhibiting Nitric Oxide production.
Prevents and Helps Fight Depression
Bioactive compounds present in Gotu Kola promote the functioning of HPA axis, hence providing better response to the external stimulus. Also, it increases the growth of specific neurotransmitters that prevent depression. It increases cerebral (brain) levels of GABA neurotransmitter, which is known to promote a feeling of calmness and content.
Prevents Cancer and Boosts Immunity
Gotu Kola benefits all the functions of the Immune system immensely. It stops the growth of mutant or cancerous cells. It boosts the immune function, where it can detect and kill the cancer cells.
Gotu Kola has an anti-inflammatory response and helps to prevent auto-immune disorders by regulating the response of Immune system. It enhances the activity of killer cells and prevents microbial infections and allergen attacks.
Gotu Kola lowers down cholesterol levels and strengthens the vascular system. Its high antioxidant levels prevent oxidative damage to the artery walls and reduce the risk of atherosclerosis and hence heart failure. Gotu Kola has been studied to reduce hypertension.
Skin Health and Anti-Aging
Gotu Kola benefits critical body systems and supports vital body organs including the skin. It helps treat skin disorders such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, and psoriasis. It promotes production of collagen and enhances the quality and elasticity of the skin.
Gotu Kola benefits female reproductive system and helps regulate the menstrual cycle.
Got Kola has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
Gotu Kola has been used in Ayurvedic medicinal system as a remedy for Diabetes. It has anti-hyperglycaemic properties.
Side effects and Precautions
Limited consumption of Gotu Kola as a food item or in teas has not been reported to have an adverse effects. Some people may have mild symptoms such as skin irritation or contact dermatitis externally, or dyspepsia, nausea and headache internally depending on the sensitivity levels.
An overdose of Gotu Kola can result in dizziness and drowsiness. Some studies showed that it has infertility effect for males and females animals. Chronic treatment of Gotu Kola can have abortive effect in pregnant women.
Although there are still unknown drug interactions, it should be avoided in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Also, patients should ask their doctors before using Gotu Kola with other drugs to avoid liver damage.
Maximum duration suggested for the use of Gotu Kola preparations is 6 weeks, and at least, a 2-week break is needed after every long duration use.
Modes of Consumption
All the parts of the plant such as leaves, seeds, fruits, roots, twigs and seeds are used for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Across South East Asia, the leaves are used in salads, juices, stir-fries, and in curries. It can also be consumed as a tea along with other herbs such as Cinnamon and Cardamom.
- Half teaspoon of dried leaves powder is given with milk for mental weakness and to improve memory. This should be taken before bedtime and 2-3 times a week.
- Two to three tablespoons of the fresh juice of the leaves can be added to other vegetables or fruit juices and consumed on regular basis (2-3 times a week).
- Boil the leaves along with fenugreek seeds to make tea. This recipe works well to regulate bowel movement and for high fever.
- 3 – 4 fresh leaves of the plant an be given along with 1-2 black pepper seeds for memory improvement. This can be taken 4-5 times a week.
- Gotu Kola tea made by boiling a couple of fresh leaves is helpful for relieving tension, relaxing the mind, and soothing anxiety.