by Amy Myszko
Gotu kola is a widely used food and ancient Ayurvedic medicinal herb that has many powerful benefits, even touted by some as a “cure-all.” Numerous studies have shown important health benefits, including antidiabetic, wound-healing, antimicrobial, memory-enhancing, antioxidant and neuroprotective properties. More research is still needed, however, to better understand why Centella asiatica has such profound health effects.
Centella Asiatica in Ayurveda
Gotu kola is a key herb in the ancient art of Ayurvedic healing, referred to as “Brahmi,” or godlike. It is thought to help prevent the aging process and improve mental function and is also used for skin disorders and as an aid to meditation. Many of its functions may be due in part to the plant’s nature as a circulatory stimulant that improves blood flow to the periphery (brain, skin, etc.). Deemed the most spiritual of herbs in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, recently gotu kola has been growing more popular in the Western herbal tradition as well.
Gotu Kola and Improved Cognitive Function
Some of the most robust and promising gotu kola research focuses on its use in improving cognitive function. In Ayurveda, gotu kola is considered to have neuroprotective and regenerative effects, meaning it may even help to heal and repair the brain. It also enhances memory and focus and can help calm the mind for meditation. In one study, gotu kola was as effective as the standard medical treatment for improving cognitive function in post-stroke patients, and it had a greater effect than the conventional treatment specifically for memory enhancement post-stroke. Other research has shown the benefits of gotu kola in degenerative brain diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, thought to be due to increased circulation and antioxidant effects.
Skin Care and Centella Asiatica
One key to healthy skin is good circulation. The more blood flow to the skin, the more oxygen and nutrients are available to keep wrinkles and age spots at bay. Add in its amazing antioxidant effects, and the benefits to the circulatory system promoted by gotu kola sends those antioxidants straight to where they’re needed most—the skin, brain and lungs. Traditionally, people suffering from skin disorders ranging from psoriasis to acne and eczema, as well as chronic lung problems like asthma, have taken gotu kola orally.
How to Use Gotu Kola
Finding fresh gotu kola for food may be a tall order in the United States, but it’s widely available in health food stores and natural pharmacies in the form of tea, tincture and dried in capsules. Most people use gotu kola internally, but interest in it is growing as an ingredient in skin care products and as a topical circulatory stimulant/anti-inflammatory for pain. Keep an eye out for cutting-edge products like CoSo’s soon-to-be-released pain patch featuring a mix of botanicals that include hemp (CBD) and Japanese knotweed.
Amy Myszko, a Certified Clinical Herbalist and Certified Lactation Counselor, has been practicing herbalism and nutrition since 2007. She recently graduated with a master’s degree in lactation and is pursuing a career as a Holistic Lactation Therapist.