Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica), also known as Asiatic pennywort, Brahmi and “An Elephant Never Forgets,” is a creeping ivy-like vine revered in Ayurvedic medicine for more than 2,500 years primarily as a nervous system and skin tonic. Both Gotu Kola and Bacopa share the same Sanskrit name, Brahmi, so check the scientific Latin name to confirm its identity.
Gotu Kola is native to tropical areas like the South Pacific, Indonesia, South Africa and islands in the Indian Ocean. It grows naturally in swampy areas and is prone to be contaminated with bacteria, including E.coli, so be sure to wash thoroughly. In Singapore, you can find the cousin of Gotu Kola called marsh pennywort at Mustafa Centre market.
Gotu Kola is best known to improve memory, promote clear thinking, mental calmness and emotional balance. It is used to treat psychological disorders, chemical imbalances of the brain, memory loss, Alzheimer’s, and epilepsy. It also promotes circulation throughout the body, including the brain, and helps to strengthen connective tissue, collagen and endothelial lining. It is also very high in vitamin A. Of all the adaptogens, Gotu Kola is one of the more subtly energising. You can blend it with holy basil, ginkgo, lemon balm, milky oat seed and other adaptogens for more obvious effects. Gotu Kola is also applied topically as a poultice to soothe burns and heal wounds, thanks to the anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties of the leaves.
Gotu Kola works well in any form – fresh, juiced, or powdered. It has a bitter pungent taste similar to watercress. Avoid excessive doses of Gotu Kola as it may cause nausea and/or vomiting.
|Botanical Name||Centella asiatica|
|Common Name||Gotu Kola, Asiatic pennywort, Daun pegaga|
|Family||Apiaceae (Parsley Family)|
|Ayurvedic/TCM Name||Brahmi, Mandukaparni (frog-leafed)|
|Native Region||Swampy areas of South Pacific islands, Indonesia, tropical Africa|
|Geographic Distribution||South Pacific islands, Indonesia, tropical Africa|
|Where to find in Singapore||Mustafa Centre (marsh pennywort only)|
|Botanical Description||Small perennial creeping herb with webbed, fan-shaped leaves about 2-5 cm that emerges as clusters at stem nodes. It has white or light purple/pink flowers.|
|Growing||Able to grow in Singapore in shady, moist, or marshy areas. Sow seeds or propagate by stem cuttings.|
|Harvesting||Harvest gotu kola whenever it is flourishing. This will encourage the plant to spread and ensure a continual supply, as long as you leave some leaves behind and water daily.|
|Main Constituents||Asiaticoside and madecassol (triterpenoid saponins responsible for wound healing and anti-inflammatory actions respectively); brahmoside and brahminoside (saponin glycosides responsible for CNS relaxant effects).|
|Actions||Alterative, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, diuretic, nervine, vulnerary.|
|Therapeutic Uses||Gotu kola is used in the treatment of nervous, blood and skin problems. For brain use, gotu kola is known to improve cognition and memory, and may even stall memory loss in Alzheimer’s disease. For blood use, gotu kola promotes healthy blood vessels by strengthening the epithelial wall and boosting blood flow. It is used to combat high blood pressure and purify blood. For skin disorders, gotu kola is applied externally to treat burns, dermatitis, eczema, psoriasis, leprosy and accelerates would healing and the production of healthy scar tissue after skin injury.|
|Culinary/Medicinal Preparations||Eaten fresh, taken as a decoction, tincture or powder or crushed as a poultice and applied on wounds.|
|Recipes from SRK||Tropic Green Smoothie.|
|Taste||Bitter and astringent.|
|Safety & Dosage||Gotu kola is generally regarded as safe with no known toxicity in recommended doses. Side effects are rare but may include skin rash and burning sensations with external use by people who are sensitive to it. High doses of the herb may cause headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness. Pregnant and nursing are advised to refrain from taking gotu kola.|