Meet Gotu Kola, the Herb of Enlightenment.
Gotu Kola (Sanskrit: Brahmi, Latin: Centella asiatica) is a leafy, perennial plant is native to warm, tropical climates and a staple in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. A member of the parsley family, 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.
It has been called the herb of longevity and elixir of life – its Chinese name actually means “fountain of youth” – and Sri Lankan legend has it that elephants have 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.
Why do I need Gotu Kola?
1) Gotu Kola for Hair: In the realm of beauty, its main benefit 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 why we have formulated all of them in our Ultra Luxuriant Hair Elixir.
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, it has traditionally been used to improve memory. Studies on stroke patients show it can improve cognitive function as it 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 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, it 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 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 it in skin ointments or take it as a supplement.
Can I eat Gotu Kola?
Here is a recipe for Gotu Kola Sambol, an herby coconut salad popular in Sri Lanka and a wonderful accompaniment to rich, spicy dishes.
[Credit: BBC Food]
We got our Gotu Kola fresh in the UK from FarmDrop, a farm-to-plate company founded by one of our old friends, Ben.
- A 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, substitute with Japanese katsuobushi or simple tinned anchovies.
- 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.
If you are interested in gotu kola for hair growth, try our Ultra Luxuriant Hair Elixir, a potent Ayurvedic hair oil that makes hair grow stronger, thicker and silkier by nourishing strands from root to end.