Vallarai Keerai, also known as Gotu Kola, is a powerful medicinal herb that confers immense health benefits primarily for enhancing brain activity and nervous system functioning, besides mitigating joint pain in arthritis, healing stomach ulcers and decreasing stress, anxiety.
Scientifically known as Centella Asiatica, this green leafy plant is locally called “Vallarai Keerai” in Tamil, “Mandukaparni” in Sanskrit, “Sarswati” in Hindi and “Swaraswataku” in Telugu. The name “Gotu Kola” is, in fact, the vernacular term in the Sinhalese language of Sri Lanka and literally translates to “cup-shaped leaf”, describing the characteristic rounded and hemispherical form of the leaves.
Also Read: Gotu Kola: 5 Fabulous Wellness Incentives Of This Wonder Herb
This perennial herb thrives in tropical, wet and swampy regions of South Asia, in countries such as India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam and China. It is essentially a short creeper, that grows up to a height of 4 to 18 inches, bearing vibrant green leaves, thin, slender reddish-brown stems. Upon developing, this shrub produces bright white, crimson or purple coloured flowers, which bud into small, oval-shaped fruits with prominent reticulate markings.
Vallarai keerai is a popular green leafy vegetable utilised extensively in conventional South Indian cooking. Although the lush, verdant leaves do not carry any prominent aroma or flavour, being tasteless and odourless, they can be easily incorporated into dishes along with spices, to make vallarai keerai kootu or dal, vallarai keerai thuvayal (a thick, coarse chutney variant), as well as salads, soups, idlis, dosas and sambhar.
The other segments of the plant, namely the stem, flowers and fruits are also used in numerous natural home remedies for skin ailments like eczema, boosting memory, aiding in digestion, in Ayurveda practice in India as well as in traditional Chinese medicine.
While native to warm, moist environments in Asian nations, gotu kola or vallarai keerai is today being widely cultivated across the globe, in Western regions of North America, Europe and even parts of Australia, owing to its rich nutritional profile and vast benefits for wellness. It is also being sold in the form of herbal supplemental capsules, tablets and powders, to uplift overall health.
Vallarai Keerai Nutrition Facts:
A flourishing herbal wonder, vallarai keerai abounds in Vitamin C. It is also low in calories to help maintain body weight and supplies adequate essential dietary fibers and proteins. Furthermore, it also offers the key spectrum of B vitamins to regulate metabolism and cellular energy requirements.
The following is the nutritional value of vallarai keerai or gotu kola, per 100 g, according to the data provided by the USDA Nutrient Database (United States Department of Agriculture):
Energy 15 kcal
Carbohydrates 3.2 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Fat 0.04 g
Protein 2.76 g
Thiamine (B1) 3%
Riboflavin (B2) 2%
Niacin (B3) 1%
Vitamin B6 3%
Vitamin C 73%
Vallarai Keerai also comprises ample potassium which is sufficient for the daily requirement of adults. Other vital trace minerals in this natural herb include phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc. Also Read: Zinc: Functions, Food Sources, Deficiency And Toxicity
Furthermore, vallarai keerai is a treasure trove of potent antioxidants such as saponins or triterpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins, in addition to brahmoside, brahminoside and centelloside, which are responsible for its positive modulating effects on the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Vallarai Keerai Benefits For Health:
Improves Brain Functions
The unique combination of beneficial compounds in vallarai keerai – brahmoside, brahminoside and centelloside assist in elevating memory, concentration and intellect. Consuming a small portion of vallarai keerai as part of daily diet stimulates the neurotransmitter activity in the CNS, thereby ensuring normal relay of nerve signals from the brain to the other organs in the body, as well as heightened cognitive abilities.
Boosts Immune System
Consuming just a moderate quantity of vallarai keerai will satisfy the daily vitamin C requirement in healthy adults. Vitamin C not only functions in enhancing iron absorption for enhanced blood circulation but also works to improve immunity by white blood cells in the system. In addition, vitamin C is obligatory for growth and development of all body tissues and a key antioxidant for removing toxins from the system.
Also Read: Kadha: Brew These Traditional Concoctions Right Now, To Boost Immunity And Fight Infections
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, vallarai keerai assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Moreover, this herb is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
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Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Vallarai keerai is bestowed with the key minerals for optimal muscle function – magnesium and manganese. The significantly high mineral content in vallarai keerai makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high-intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, eating a salad with gotu kola can instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Vallarai keerai comprises valuable dietary fibers which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. Consuming some vallarai keerai soup also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
Vallarai Keerai Soup:
Home Remedy For Indigestion, Constipation And Bloating:
Boil some fresh leaves of vallarai keerai or gotu kola in water, along with some red chilly powder, cumin powder and coriander leaves.
Switch off stove, allow it to cool down a bit and blend it in a mixer.
Pour this warm soup in a bowl, season with salt, pepper and drink it hot to instantly relieve constipation symptoms and rectify gut problems.
The calcium present in vallarai keerai is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high potassium content in this leafy vegetable complements bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body. Also Read: Tremendous Calcium Boosters: Refreshing Smoothie Recipes For Healthy Bones And Joints
Combats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Vallarai keerai offers profuse amounts of vitamin C that confers anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling in the bladder, which is more common in women than men. Also, its antioxidant capabilities are useful in removing detrimental free radicals and harmful bacteria from the body. This, in turn, helps to avoid oxidation of the healthy cells in the excretory system organs, thus ensuring proper elimination of wastes and unnecessary food residues from the body and preventing their accumulation in the system.
Helps Cure Anemia
Vitamin C also performs one very vital function in the human body which is of enhancing the absorption of iron from ingested food. Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anaemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues. Taking some vallarai keerai salad with meals will guarantee ample uptake of iron, from foods, into the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Vallarai Keerai Usage In Ayurveda:
Vallarai Keerai is a time-tested herb in Ayurveda, that is categorised as a “Medhya Rasayana” plant, meaning natural produce that remarkably promotes mental faculties, mood, memory and thinking. Its therapeutic applications are hence, of tremendous magnitude, in Ayurveda - the traditional Indian system of medicine. The olden Ayurvedic scriptures praise the healing potential of vallarai keerai, in successfully alleviating depression, anxiety, lowering stress levels, averting cancer and remedying liver disorders.
Remedies Varicose Veins
Vallarai keerai or Gotu kola is blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that vastly stimulate blood circulation in all organs in the body. Varicose veins are characterized by distended legs with purple discolouration due to a decline in elasticity of blood vessels. Hence, vallarai keerai works wonders in lessening swelling in the legs, boosting blood flow, diminishing varicose veins and combatting chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Uplifts Lung Health
Laden with phytonutrients that possess decongestant properties, vallarai keerai confers remarkable merits for healing symptoms of chronic cold, asthma, bronchitis, by loosening trapped phlegm deposits in the nasal and pulmonary passages. The acid compound asiaticoside comprises cytoprotective traits that shield lung cells, tissues from injury, besides reducing fluid retention in conditions of pleural effusion for bolstered lung power and improved breathing functions.
Ensures Deep Sleep
Vallarai keerai is rich in a plethora of nerve-regulating components which balance GABA neurotransmitter levels and deliver valuable sedative qualities to calm the mind. Insomnia and anxiety are a result of an agitated, nervous, panicked mental state and Gotu kola is an excellent tranquilising agent that soothes stress, tension, promotes sound uninterrupted sleep at night, alleviates undue worry and augments brain health.
Effect On Doshas
Vallarai Keerai, in essence, has a slightly madhura rasa (sweet taste) with intrinsically laghu and ruksha gunas (light and dry qualities). It possesses ushna virya (heating potency), balancing the kapha (earth and water) dosha (element) while excessively influencing pitta (fire and water) and vata (air and ether) doshas. Moreover, it fosters the positive and equalizing states of mind namely sattva and rajas, effectively eliminating tamas or a negative mindset.
Ameliorates Depression Symptoms
Comprising neurotransmitter regulating properties, vallarai keerai efficiently boosts the positive state of mind - sattva and suppresses lethargy or tamas. This works wonders in uplifting moods, sharpening the intellect and rehabilitating the brain from depression symptoms. It is also a wonderful solution for improving conditions of memory loss and nerve decline in neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and others.
Also Read: Depression: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Vallarai Keerai Powder:
Astounding Natural Therapy For Mental Distress
Sundry two or three large bunches of fresh vallarai keerai leaves.
Once all the moisture has evaporated, crush the leaves in a blender on low setting, to attain a fine, smooth powder.
This vallarai keerai powder can be mixed with warm rice and ghee or consumed as a beverage with chilled water and jaggery, to promptly uplift moods, pacify depression, anxiety symptoms, soothe the body and calm the mind.
When storing this herbal powder in an air-tight container, it remains fresh for up to one week.
Remedies Liver Dysfunction
Vallarai keerai is heaped with antioxidants, which provide for the prompt removal of harmful free radicals from the system, especially in the liver and gallbladder. In this manner, a balance between the bodily tridoshic states is attained wherein all unwanted fatty accumulations are wiped out of the body, ensuring healthy liver function.
Vallarai Keerai Uses For Skin And Hair:
Reduces Skin Inflammation
Vallarai keerai contains several essential amino acids that help to build healthy skin cells and also suppress any redness and swelling that tends to develop on skin exposed to harsh environmental states. Its high flavonoid content provides antioxidants traits to assist in combating free radical damage, diminish acne, scars and dark spots and lessen skin irritation.
Offers Anti-Aging Benefits
This cruciferous vegetable contains spermidine that aids in delaying skin cells from the process of ageing. The carotene class of flavonoid plant antioxidants further plays an important role in reducing the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and sunken skin. Eating a gotu kola salad or drinking the juice will also help to boost the production of collagen, a protein essential for maintaining the elasticity and firmness of skin texture.
Vallarai Keerai Juice:
Ultimate Tonic For Enriched Skin And Lustrous Hair:
A bunch of fresh vallarai keerai leaves
Wash the vallarai keerai leaves thoroughly in water and chop them finely.
Thoroughly blend in a juicer, along with some water, to obtain a slightly thick liquid.
Add the honey, with some crushed ice, to obtain a homogenous fusion.
Relish the mildly sweetened and super-nutritious vallarai keerai juice chilled.
How It Works:
Vallarai keerai contains the rutin category of plant phenol antioxidants which have anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory properties. This helps to get rid of acne, scars and dark spots on the skin, giving the face a vibrant, youthful and soft appearance. It also boosts collagen synthesis in healthy skin cells and helps in slowing down ageing.
Supports Hair Growth
The juice extracts of gotu kola not only benefits skin but also promotes hair growth and thickness. The vitamin C and antioxidant content inherent in vallarai keerai and juice help to strengthen the roots of hair known as follicles, to stimulate the proliferation of long and robust locks of hair. It assures the complete removal of harmful free radicals that cause weak and brittle hair and incessant hair loss, thereby guaranteeing the renewal of healthy hair growth.
Eradicates Dandruff Woes
Applying the juice extract, or the dried powder of vallarai keerai leaves onto aggravated scalp assists in ridding the surface of dandruff and constant itching. The anti-fungal properties of vallarai keerai offer the advantage of removing all irritants from the scalp and hence promotes nourished hair growth. The key trace minerals zinc and iron, as well as vitamin B1 and vitamin C also complement optimal development of hair roots and bestow long strong and lustrous tresses.
Vallarai Keerai Recipe:
Reap the wellness incentives of the miraculous vallarai keerai herb in the form of these wholesome, delicious and mouth-watering recipes from the kitchens of Southern India.
Vallarai Keerai Poriyal:
1 bunch vallarai keerai, chopped
1 small onion, finely cut
1 tbsp toor dal, boiled
2 tbsp grated coconut
½ tsp turmeric powder
Salt, to taste
3 tsp sesame oil
2 medium-sized dry red chilli
1 tsp cumin seeds
A pinch of asafoetida
Heat oil in a kadai, splutter mustard seeds, cumin seeds and broken red chillies, and sprinkle asafoetida.
Add in onions and crushed garlic, sauté well for few minutes.
Add in the chopped vallarai keerai greens along with turmeric powder and cook until it begins to shrink in size and soften.
Garnish with freshly grated coconut and serve this nourishing vallarai keerai poriyal with rice or roti, for lunch or dinner.
Vallarai keerai is an excellent source of vitamins C, B complex, as well as a host of powerful antioxidants. It confers noteworthy merits for boosting metabolism, bolstering immunity against infections and promoting brain functions. Onions contain quercetin that vastly lowers the risk of cancers. Coconut provides healthy unsaturated fats for augmenting heart health, while cumin seeds enhance digestive processes.
Vallarai Keerai Dosa:
4 cups dosa batter
3 cups vallarai keerai leaves
¼ cup chopped onion
1 tsp pepper powder
Salt, as required
Oil, for making dosa
¼ cup of water
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp peppercorns
Make a puree of vallarai keerai leaves in a blender and add it to the dosa batter.
Heat oil on low flame, transfer the chopped onions, sauté until they turn transparent.
Temper the peppercorn and cumin seeds, and then add the cooked onions to the batter.
Adjust for salt and pepper, to obtain final dosa mix.
Heat oil in a dosa pan and spread the batter evenly in a circular shape. Cook until both sides turn mildly brown and slightly crisp.
Enjoy the nutritious vallarai keerai dosa with sambhar and chutney for a complete breakfast.
Vallarai keerai supplies amazing benefits for elevating nervous system activity, maintaining good moods and diminishing stress, tension and worry. Pepper is a magical seed for rectifying respiratory conditions, providing relief from cough and cold.
Vallarai Keerai Side Effects:
Vallarai keerai is generally safe for consumption among people of all age groups.
Keep in mind to not consume it in excessive amounts if pregnant, as it might result in digestive disorders.
Vallarai keerai is a panacea for human health, offering marvellous benefits for maintaining brain functions, heart health, lung, liver and kidney operations. It also supports strong bones and muscles and is a proven herb for healing depression, anxiety and mental stress.
Go ahead and consume this green leafy herbal vegetable, for augmenting overall health and wellness.