Gotu kola is the Sinhalese name for an herbaceous perennial plant, scientifically referred as Centella asiatica.
Commonly known as Asiatic Pennywort in English, Mandukaparni in Sanskrit Vallarai Keerai in Tamil and Swaraswataku in Telugu, this herb grows widely in temperate and tropical climatic conditions, in several regions of the world, but is native to the warm and swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka and other South Asian nations.
The entire plant is utilised in a wide variety of therapeutic applications. In particular, the lean, reddish green stems and bright green, inverted cone-shaped leaves of this herb are a flavorful culinary ingredient as well as an efficacious medicinal constituent.
Gotu kola contains significant amounts of proteins, the B vitamins, vitamin C, the minerals iron and calcium and antioxidants belonging to carotenoid and flavonoid groups.
Historically, Gotu kola has been documented in ancient Ayurvedic scriptures, for its innumerable health benefits ranging from improved blood circulation to enhanced brain activity.
Today, this organic marvel of Mother Nature is being globally recognized and incorporated into food and medicine, in the form of salads, curries, juices and supplemental tablets and powders, to reap the excellent advantages it confers, for overall well-being.
Medicinal And Therapeutic Properties Of Gotu Kola
Boosts Cognitive Function
Gotu Kola comprises profuse volumes of the antioxidant asiatic acid and its derivatives. This provides neuroprotective effects to cells in the brain, advancing memory and learning. It also helps in slowing down the progression of Alzheimer’s and dementia, in older people affected by the disease.
Lowers Stress And Anxiety
Packed with nutrients that promote oxygen supply to the brain, Gotu Kola is very beneficial in decreasing levels of stress, anxiety and depression. It also has mild sedative properties and is hence useful for those suffering from insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Treats Varicose Veins
Varicose veins is a condition where veins swell up in the legs and feet, thereby obstructing the smooth flow of blood across organs and tissues. Gotu Kola, being rich in iron, has the potential to remove plaques from blood vessels, and thus regulates blood pressure and heals varicose veins.
Relieves Joint Pain
The antioxidants in Gotu Kola - flavonoids and carotenoids, remove toxins from the body, while its high calcium content fortifies bones. This ayurvedic herb also supplies valuable anti-inflammatory effects to swollen, painful joints, hence efficiently reducing discomfort in ailments such as arthritis.
Promotes Gut Health
Gotu Kola possesses the noteworthy quality of being able to regulate digestion as it is loaded with proteins and vitamin C. It can also promote mucous secretions in the intestines which can help combat the increased acidity in severe gastric ulcers and effectively heal stomach aches.
Effect On Doshas:
Gotu Kola, termed as Mandukaparni in Sanskrit, is a “Medhya Rasayana”, famed for its powerful properties in boosting brain power and elevating intellectual aptitude. It also holds the trait of “Smrutiprada”, being rather useful in enhancing memory, concentration and cognitive abilities. Besides, it revitalizes skin texture, promotes hair growth and supplies valuable anti-inflammatory characteristics to mitigate joint pain in arthritis.
Gotu kola possesses a strong bitter flavour or “Tikta Rasa”, with a “Laghu Guna” of ease of digestion and absorption. It confers a cooling sensation to the body, having a very strong “Sheeta Veerya”. This potent herb efficiently balances the irregularities in Kapha and Pitta doshas, thereby preserving the tridoshic harmony of Vata, Pitta and Kapha.
All parts of the Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica plant are edible and possess medicinal qualities, including the root, bark, stem, flower and fruit, with the leaves being most commonly used in preparing healing concoctions.
A daily intake of 30 – 60 ml of the leaf juice extract or 3 – 6 grams of the crushed leaf powder of Gotu Kola is safely assimilated by normal, healthy adults.
The dosage must be reduced for children over 10 years old and gotu kola can be served as a diluted chutney rather than the highly concentrated pure leaf juice extract to kids below the age of 10.
Prior to giving gotu kola formulations to those with pre-existing conditions of blood disorders or chronic disorders such as diabetes,
hypertension, arthritis, it is advised to consult with a certified Ayurvedic doctor, to ensure only secure doses are ingested.
Gotu Kola is usually assimilated smoothly in the human system when taken in doses suggested by medical experts. However, as this herbal potion displays strong neuroprotective traits and nootropic effects of influencing the central nervous system, when taken in very high amounts above the recommended dosage, it could lead to fatigue, headaches, nausea, vertigo, drowsy sensations.
Moreover, gotu kola is not suitable for intake by pregnant and lactating women, but its external application in moderation, on the skin and hair, is validated for men and women of all ages.
Consult a medical practitioner before taking Gotu Kola supplements, to avoid any harmful interactions with other medications you may be taking at the same time.
Gotu Kola is not recommended in high doses for pregnant and breastfeeding women. Always take the advice of a doctor before consuming this herb.