Gotu kola is a highly respected herb in many Asian countries. It's especially regarded in India and is a staple in both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. The powerful health benefits of gotu kola are also finding their way to the western part of the world.
Referred to as both an herb of longevity and an herb of enlightenment, gotu kola is a wonderfully restorative herb for your nervous system and mind. It's gentle and can be taken for long periods of time and in food-like quantities.
Here's more about the benefits of gotu kola and ways to use it in your life.
What is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) hails from Asian countries like China, Japan, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. It's closely related to some very familiar plants like parsley, cilantro, and celery.
Despite its tropical nature, you can easily grow gotu kola outdoors as an annual or indoors as a houseplant. In milder areas (zone 7b and up), it can be grown as a perennial in your garden. Plants will send out long tendrils with bright green, rounded leaves.
Fresh gotu kola leaves have a flavor reminiscent of parsley. They contain B vitamins and vitamin C along with powerful plant compounds like saponins and flavonoids.
Many traditional medicinal practitioners have long known about the benefits of gotu kola for the mind, stress, rejuvenation, and healthy tissues. These benefits have been the subject of multiple studies that have confirmed its properties.
Top Benefits of Gotu Kola
Enhances Cognitive Function
Cognitive function is a fancy way of saying brain power. Supporting and clearing your mind is an ancient use for gotu kola and one of its most incredible benefits.
Used as a tonic herb (one taken for a long period of time), gotu kola can aid memory, concentration, and alertness. It's thought of as a remedy for memory loss and foggy thinking and boosts the longevity of your brain.
In studies, gotu kola has definitely shown an ability to boost overall cognitive function. It has a strong ability to improve memory and seems to be especially helpful for older brains. One study also indicated that it could have positive effects for treating Alzheimer's disease. (1)(2)(3)(4)
Calms Stress and Anxiety
Gotu kola has a calming and restorative effect on your nervous system. It can be used as a nervine, which means an herb that restores balance to your nervous system and helps your body deal with stress.
As a nervine, gotu kola should be taken consistently for a period of time so that you can get its full effects.
May Reduce the Appearance of Stretch Marks & Scars
Stretch marks can be very hard to get rid of, although there are several natural home remedies that can help. Gotu kola, especially when used as a cream, can improve the appearance of stretch marks. Like other remedies, it's most effective if used as a preventative measure during pregnancy, but it can also benefit your skin afterwards. (7)
Gotu kola is thought to work by increasing collagen synthesis. Collagen is a key building block of your skin and connective tissues. It's needed to heal wounds, reduce scarring, and keep your skin healthy.
Boosts Skin, Hair, and Nail Health
Besides stretch marks and scarring, gotu kola is frequently used to promote overall healthy skin, hair, and nails. It has shown an ability to speed wound healing and also supports tissue repair. Much of this comes from its ability to increase the production of collagen and fibroblasts. (8)
For the skin benefits of gotu kola, you can use it on its own or with another herb like calendula that promotes tissue repair. Many skin, hair, and nail supplements with gotu kola also contain minerals like silica for further support and strengthening.
Rejuvenates and Balances
We often have the tendency to seek out herbs for a specific problem we have or a specific effect they have. However, many ancient medicinal practices have discovered the benefits of taking herbs like gotu kola for overall health and longevity.
When taken as a tonic herb, gotu kola has a rejuvenating, yet calming, influence on your mind, nervous system, and body. It's very similar to an adaptogen in that it balances and restore rather than having a single, specific effect.
Try taking it daily with other rejuvenating herbs like holy basil to take care of your body and mind before something goes wrong.
If you struggle with poor blood flow, gotu kola can stimulate better circulation and even reduce ankle or foot swelling from poor circulation. Better circulation may also improve things like varicose veins and fluid retention. If you have problems with swelling while flying, taking gotu kola before your flight may help. (9)
Like many other herbs, gotu kola has an ability to reduce chronic inflammation that can cause disease. This is likely due to its antioxidant effect, which is a known way to reduce inflammation in your body.
In one animal study, the anti-inflammatory nature of gotu kola proved helpful for reducing symptoms of arthritis, including joint inflammation and cartilage erosion. (10)
Ways to Use Gotu Kola
There are many ways to incorporate gotu kola into your everyday life. It's frequently used as a salad green in Asian nations and can be taken in food-like quantities.
If you have access to fresh gotu kola, add the leaves to salads, smoothies, and herb mixes. Or juice the leaves with green vegetables like kale and/or ginger, lemons, and apples. You can also infuse the leaves into sauces, vinegars, and teas.
Gotu kola can also be taken as an extract, capsule, or dried herb. You can use the dried leaves to make a calming and rejuvenating herbal tea or infuse them in a broth. Combine with other nervine herbs like milky oats and tulsi (holy basil) or with tonic herbs like astragalus and nettle.
For the most part, gotu kola is a very safe herb to use, even in large amounts. It can occasionally cause headaches, upset stomach, or an allergic reaction.
Avoid taking gotu kola internally during pregnancy, although you can use it topically to help prevent stretch marks.
Gotu Kola for Mind and Body
You don't need to look any further than gotu kola to find an herb that supports both your mind and body. It can boost your brain power, reduce stress, support healthy skin, and restore balance.
Discover for yourself why this herb has been loved and revered by many cultures for thousands of years!