Gotu Kola: 'Jack of all Trades' from Ayurveda

Brahmi/Gotu Kola: Getting to Know Your Herbal Allies | Banyan Botanicals

Tired, stressed and unfocused? A tough weekend behind you? Maybe gotu kola can help. This ayurvedic plant, also known as Asian water pennywort, has several uses and is known to support, among other things, the ability to react* and good mental balance*. Gotu kola is literally 'brain food'.

What is Gotu Kola or Asian Water Pennywort?

Although the name gotu kola (Centella asiatica) suggests it, this plant has nothing to do with kola nut or its relatives. On the contrary, gotu kola is related to the parsley family (Umbelliferae). The plant is native to Southeast Asia, but today it grows in many warm areas of this globe.

Gotu kola is a super easy plant to maintain and is pickable all year round. In appearance, the plant looks a bit like ragweed. Some of its properties are also similar. For example, the Asian water pennywort prefers to grow at high altitudes up to 1800 meters, low to the ground in swampy environments. Here the plant develops a slender stem and creeping shoots. Gotu kola has green-red stalks and small, soft leaves. The flowers are white to pale pink.

"In Dutch, we also call gotu kola tiger grass or Indian water pennywort"

How Does Gotu Kola Get its Name?

NavelThe world of plants hangs together with wonderful names. For example, the Latin name for gotu kola is Centella asiatica. It is believed that 'Centella' stands for 'Cente', which means 'development'. Gotu kola is always growing and therefore always developing. The addition 'asiatica' speaks for itself, of course. The plant originates from Asia. But why "navel"? This name can be explained by looking at the shape of the leaves. These have a clear center from which the veins extend to the edges of the leaf, similar to the lines that run from a navel. In Dutch we also call gotu kola tiger grass or Indian water pennywort. The name "tiger grass" is explained by the fact that wounded tigers roll through the herb to heal their wounds. The Papuans in New Guinea, where the plant originally grows, also call the plant 'daun pegagan'. This is in fact the Malay name. 'Daun' means 'leaf'. In English, gotu cola is called 'Indian pennywort'. In China, the plant is also called Fo Ti Ting which means 'long living herb'.

Gotu Kola: a Brain-Friendly Plant

In Ayurveda, gotu kola is known as one of the most brain-friendly plants. The above ground part of the plant is therefore often used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic herbalism. And that's not surprising. In fact, Asian water pennywort is a potent antioxidant. This means that the plant is able to protect the body against harmful external influences, the so-called free radicals. You can think of air pollution, excessive exercise and smoking. These free radicals can cause damage to our tissues and cells.

Culinary Uses of Gotu Kola in Asia

saladGotu kola is widely used externally in Asia. The plant is known to be good for the skin. Animals, such as the tigers mentioned above, have been known to use the herb to heal their wounds. But it is also popular as an ingredient for salads, for example. In Myanmar cuisine, raw water pennywort is the main ingredient of a salad made with onions, ground peanuts and bean powder and then seasoned with fish sauce and lime juice. In Indonesia, the leaves are often used to make a type of salad called sambai oi peuga-ga. The marinated vegetable or fruit dish asinan is also made from Asian water pennywort. In Vietnam and Thailand, the raw leaves are also popular in a salad or on a sandwich. In addition, water pennywort is used in the preparation of nutritious beverages. It doesn't stop there, however, because in Sri Lanka gotu kola is the most widely available leafy vegetable. The name 'gotu' refers to the conical shape of the plant. 'Kola' means 'leaf'. The vegetable is often served with curry and rice.

"Usually the leaves and stems of the Centella asiatica are used"

What Contents Does the Centella Asiatica Contain?

Usually the leaves and stems of the Centella asiatica are used. In them are the main contents of the plant, such as several triterpenoid saponins: asiaticoside, madecassoside, hydroxyasiaticoside, glycosides, brahmoshide, thankuniside and indocentelloside. In addition, gotu kola contains some triterpene acids, such as asiatic acid, madiasiatic acid and brahmic acid, among others.

In addition, we find the phystosterols campesterol, stegmasterol and betasitosterol. And how about the flavonoids quercetin and kaemferol? On top of this, various amino acids and the bitter substance vellarin, as well as beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamins B1 and B2 inositol and the minerals potassium, chromium, calcium, selenium, iron, phosphorus, tin, zinc and sicilium are also found in the plant. Other contents include carbohydrates, linoleic acid, stearic acid, palmitic acid, alkaloids and pectin. It is no wonder, then, that gotu kola is sometimes referred to in herbalism as the "jack of all trades" in Ayurveda.

What Else is Gotu Kola Used for?

As mentioned, gotu kola is eagerly used in Asian cuisine. However, the Asian water pennywort can do more. We are not allowed to say much about this due to European legislation, but we can say that important uses are mainly related to blood vessels* and blood circulation*. In addition, gotu kola supports various cognitive functions such as concentration*, memory* and learning ability*. In addition, the contents are beneficial for good mental balance*. Not surprisingly, the plant is considered 'brain friendly' in Ayurveda.

*Health claims made on the basis of plant contents are currently under consideration by the EFSA.

Gotu Kola as a Food Supplement

Of course, you can cook with gotu kola yourself or make a tasty salad with it. However, you can also benefit from all the fine contents by taking a food supplement with gotu kola extract. We offer vegetarian capsules with a high dose of 7% triterpenes. The supplement contains 400 mg gotu kola per capsule.