Herb: Gotu Kola


Latin name: Centella asiatica


Synonyms: Hydrocotyle asiatica


Family: Umbelliferae



Medicinal use of Gotu Kola:

Gotu kola is an outstandingly important medicinal herb that is widely used in the Orient and is becoming increasingly popular in the West. Its Indian name is "Brahmi" which means "bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality" and it has long been used there medicinally and as an aid to meditation. It is a useful tonic and cleansing herb for skin problems and digestive disorders. In India it is chiefly valued as a revitalizing herb that strengthens nervous function and memory. The whole plant is alterative, cardio-depressant, hypotensive, weakly sedative and tonic. It is a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammations and fevers, improves healing and immunity, improves the memory and has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis. Recent research has shown that gotu kola reduces scarring, improves circulatory problems in the lower limbs and speeds the healing process. It is used internally in the treatment of wounds, chronic skin conditions (including leprosy), venereal diseases, malaria, varicose veins, ulcers, nervous disorders and senility. Caution should be observed since excess doses cause headaches and transient unconsciousness. Externally, the herb is applied to wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatic joints. The plant can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. Another report says that the dried herb quickly loses its medicinal properties and so is best used fresh.

Description of the plant:



Plant:
Evergreen
Perennial

Height:
20 cm
(7 3/4 inch)

Flovering:
July to
August

Habitat of the herb:

Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets.

Edible parts of Gotu Kola:

Leaves - raw or cooked. Used in salads and in curries. Cooked as a vegetable. An aromatic flavour, we have found them to be rather overpowering in salads when used in any but small quantities.

Other uses of the herb:

Extracts of the plant are added to cosmetic masks and creams to increase collagen and firm the skin.

Propagation of Gotu Kola:

Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions.

Cultivation of the herb:

Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets.

Known hazards of Centella asiatica:

There is a warning that the plant can irritate the skin, though it is widely used to treat skin complaints.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.