Should Gotu Kola be your Go-To herb? Check out Our Guide to Gotu Kola and its 4 Amazing Beauty and Health Benefits
Have you heard of Gotu Kola? We use it in our Hair Elixir for its powerful hair-promoting qualities, but it really is a wonder herb with a long list of benefits. Read on for some fab facts about one of our fave herbs.
Meet Gotu Kola, the Herb of Enlightenment: Gotu Kola or Pennywort (Sanskrit: Brahmi, Latin: Centella asiatica), is a leafy plant is native to India. It is a powerful medicinal herb known for its rejuvenating powers to rebalance the nervous system, improve memory and mood, ease stress and insomnia, prevent hair loss and support skin health.
Many claim it is the herb of longevity – its Chinese name actually means “fountain of youth” and Sri Lankan legend has it that elephants live exceptionally long lives because they eat its leaves. Yogis have used it as a meditation aid and it has even been used to treat snake bites and toxic mushroom poisoning.
What makes Gotu Kola so potent? The high concentration of unique compounds known as saponins fuel the power within this plant. It also contains phytochemicals including beta-carotene, camphol and campesetol, and is a source of the minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc as well as vitamin C, B–1, B–2 and B–3. And it is caffeine free – don’t confuse it with the Kola nut, which does contain caffeine.
Why do I need Gotu Kola?
1) Gotu Kola for hair: in beauty, the main benefit you will read about is its ability to prevent hair loss. It stimulates microcirculation, which enables greater oxygen and nutrient intake by the follicle, thereby enriching its growth. Studies suggest that its effect are greatly improved when combined with Holy Basil (Tulsi) and Amla – which is just what we decided to do in our Hair Elixir - check it out here
2) Gotu Kola for skin: rich in antioxidants and saponins, it improves the appearance of the skin and reduces the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and other blemishes.
3) Gotu Kola for memory: in Ayurvedic medicine, Gotu Kola has traditionally been used to improve memory. Studies on stroke patients show it can improve cognitive function as activates the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that acts like fertilizer for your brain, encouraging new brain cell formation. Additionally, the triterpenes found in the herb prevent the formation of the plaques that accumulate in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients.
4) Gotu Kola for spiritual wellbeing: it is said to develop the crown chakra, which is the key energy centre at the top of the head, and balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is said to resemble. Moreover, Gotu Kola possesses antidepressant properties and naturally calms nerves, inhibits anxiety, promotes better sleep and helps treat depression.
How do I use Gotu Kola? The leaves look like watercress and tastes quite similar to parsley, with notes of wheatgrass and cucumber in there too. In Asian cooking, it is often used as a vegetable in curries and salads, but you can also drink it in tea (we love this one from PukkaHerbs), find in ointment for skin or the easiest way is probably to take in capsule form - check out these supplements from IHerb.
Is there an easy way for me to eat Gotu Kola? Here is a simple salad recipe for a taster of this amazing herb. We found it sold fresh in the UK from FarmDrop (www.farmdrop.com), a farm-to-plate company founded by one of our old friends, Ben.
Gotu Kola 5 Minute Salad Recipe (from bbcgoodfood.com)
- small bunch of gotu kola, washed
- 1 large tomato, finely chopped
- 1 small green chilli, finely sliced
- 6 small red shallots, finely sliced
- ½ fresh coconut or 200g/7oz fresh coconut flakes
- 1 tbsp Maldive dried tuna flakes (also known as Maldive chips). If you can’t find these, then try using Japanese katsuobushi or failing that, simple tinned anchovies would work well too.
- ½ lime, juice only
- salt, to taste
- Finely chop the gotu kola, including the stalks, and place in a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, chilli and shallots and mix together.
- Add a couple of handfuls of coconut flesh to the bowl, along with the fish flakes, lime juice and a little salt.
- Mix well to combine.