Centella asiatica – Folium (Apiaceae)
Common name: Gotu kola (S), Indian pennywort (E), Kula kudi (H)
Mandukaparni refers to the shape of gotu kola’s leaves resembling the webbed feet of a frog! The gotu kola leaf also looks like the cerebellum in the brain and is one of the finest examples of the ‘doctrine of signatures’ as gotu kola is renowned for its intellect promoting, nervous system soothing and general mind enhancing properties.
Gotu kola is a slender herbaceous creeper found across India, Sri Lanka, China, South Africa and South America and favours moist habitats at altitudes of up to 2500m. The leaves are characteristically kidney shaped and appear in rosettes up to 5cm in diameter. The stems are very slender and often red in colour and the flowers are a delicate pale violet. The plant has a smell similar to that of tobacco and it has a bitterness to its taste.
How it Works
Gotu kola promotes nerve development and improves cerebral circulation. This combined action makes it effective where there has been any head trauma or injury and also where there may be signs of cognitive degeneration or mental fatigue. An increase in a good oxygenated blood supply to the brain also provides a level of oxidative protection for the brain cells. Gotu kola displays adaptogenic effects and soothes the central nervous system through mediating the release of cortisol and adrenaline, which proves particularly effective for hyper-active states of the nervous system. Gotu kola is rich in triterpenoid saponins which have strong stimulatory effects upon the circulation and help to develop blood vessels in the skin. These remarkable constituents improve the rate of keratinisation within the skin, strengthening and protecting it as well as increasing collagen production and synthesis. It is incredibly rejuvenative to damaged skin tissue and also connective tissues throughout the body.
Into the Heart of Gotu Kola
- Gotu kola is an incredibly rejuvenative tonic to the body, with particular effect upon the brain helping to restore cerebral functioning that may have been compromised due to excess stress, trauma or specific pathologies and degenerative conditions. Gotu kola provides a level of protection against free radicals for the brain tissue and cells, through ensuring a good quality blood supply. It will also improve cognitive functions such as memory, learning and recall. Gotu kola is revered as a great herb for use within meditative practices because of its ability to ‘open the mind’.
- Gotu kola is also a superb rejuvenative to the skin both on the surface and at a much deeper level. Its impact upon collagen synthesis and blood vessel repair mechanisms have made it very valuable where there has been any deep tissue damage, but also where the surface of the skin has been damaged through injury or chronic skin conditions.
- Gotu kola can relax the central nervous system and also calm irritated inflammation within the body. These combined actions give gotu kola the ability to relax an irritated nervous system but also calm inflammatory conditions that are exacerbated by nervous stress and tension. This is often the case in many skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and acne but also in inflammatory joint conditions.
Nerve: In conditions of stress, insomnia, epilepsy and emotional turbulence, gotu kola can be beneficial where there is pitta/vata aggravation. Gotu kola will relax the central nervous system and is useful in behavioural and developmental imbalances such as autism, Asperger’s disease or ADHD.
Mind: Gotu kola improves concentration, intelligence, memory and alertness. It is used in Alzheimer’s disease, senility, stroke and to slow ageing as it benefits sadhaka pitta which promotes the intellect. It nourishes majjadhatu which protects the brain by reducing ‘stress’.
Skin: Gotu kola is a specific herb for inflammatory skin conditions such as eczema, urticaria and acne. Gotu kola balances all 3 doshas and has wondrous effects on the skin and bhrajaka pitta through its ability to hasten wound healing and reduce scars. The flavonoids in this plant act as circulatory stimulants that develop the blood vessels in the skin. They increases the rate of keratinisation of the skin, which helps to strengthen the outer protective layer of the body, indicating its use in skin inflammations and cellulite. The saponin content of gotu kola acts as a cleansing and softening agent, the oligosaccharides are moisturising and the phytosterols are protective. It is useful in external applications for hair loss via its pitta reducing effect.
Joints: Gotu Kola is traditionally used for arthritis, gout and joint inflammation. This reflects its ability to clear toxins and inflammation from the musculoskeletal system.