Latin: Centella asiatica, Hydrocotyle asiatica
Sanskrit: Brahmi, Mandukaparni
Chinese: Luo de da, Ji xue cao
WHAT IT DOES: Gotu Kola is bitter and astringent in taste and cooling in action. It is a brain and memory tonic, and an anti-poison, and very useful for wound and skin healing.
SAFETY ISSUES: None known
• Dried decoction: two grams two to three times per day
• 4:1 concentrated powder extract: one gram two times per day
• 1:5 tincture: 20-40 drops two to three times per day
Gotu kola is an annual small spreading plant found growing near rivers and ponds. TAM doctors use it as a brain and memory tonic, and have found it especially useful in children. In Nepal, during the ceremony for the first day of spring, gotu kola leaf is given to schoolchildren to help them in their studies by improving memory and concentration. It is very safe and extremely effective. TAM doctors also use it to cleanse the system of toxins and reduce inflammation. TCM doctors use gotu kola to clear up boils and toxic fevers. Gotu kola grows abundantly in India, China, Australia, Africa, Ceylon, Indonesia and Madagascar, so plants are harvested and used freely in the markets. Unfortunately, the chemical profiles differ among these species, and quality varies significantly. If you drink two or three cups per day of good quality gotu kola, you should notice the results quickly.
The primary effects of gotu kola include both wound healing and improvement of mental clarity and emotional balance. It doesn’t surprise me that one herb can affect such seemingly unrelated physiologies. For one thing, the nervous system and skin both originate embryologically from the ectoderm, and the skin is a sense organ. I think further investigation is warranted to explore gotu kola’s effects on other sense organs such as the eye, as well as on neurotransmitters, immune status and other nervous system parameters. At our clinic we sometimes find it useful in treating attention deficit disorder (ADD).
• Western scientists have focused on the herb’s wound and skin healing effects. Numerous studies from around the world have demonstrated its efficacy in treating keloids, leg ulcers, phlebitis, slow-healing wounds, leprosy, surgical lesions, cellulitis, burns, dermatitis, venous disorders, and even cirrhosis of the liver (Maquart et al., 1999; Shukla et al., 1999; Hausen, 1993; Cesarone et al., 1992). These studies illustrate the plant’s numerous stimulating effects on the healing processes of the skin and connective tissue.
• The Indian Central Council for Research on Ayurveda and Siddha, citing more than ten pharmacological and animal studies of gotu kola, also found evidence of the following characteristics: CNS depressant, memory enhancer, anti-convulsant, antispasmodic, behavior and intelligence enhancer, and blood sugar regulator (Pandley et al., eds, 1996).