Common Names

Gotu Kola
Botanical Name
Centella asiatica

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What is it?

Gotu Kola is a small, short-lived (annual) plant with unassuming, rather bitter, kidney shaped leaves that all somehow pack an enormously strong reputation for helping people.

How has it been used?

Gotu Kola is extremely highly regarded in Indian (Ayurvedic) and traditional Chinese medicine. To understand it from the point of view of those ancient and venerable systems you would need the philosophical underpinning that describes the herb in its energetic properties, for now I will just describe its traditional use in the form of a list of some of the problems Gotu Kola has been used for:

Insomnia, infertility, skin disorders, leprosy, tiredness, depression, poor healing wounds, ulcers, neurological disorders, menstrual pains, impaired vision, chronic sinusitis, sexual debility, mental illness, constipation, rheumatism, mental confusion, scar tissue healing, high blood pressure, poor circulation, diabetic complications…

This is only a partial list from some references that I have easily to hand and there will no doubt be many other traditional and current recommendations for Gotu Kola. When a herb is sufficiently highly thought in parts of the world where literally hundreds of millions of people get treatment with herbs then you are going to get a very long list of a very large number of problems.

A cynic could dismiss all of this as too good to be true and a case of wishful thinking but the thing is that Gotu Kola has been subjected to a significant (and still growing) number of scientific and clinical studies; it definitely has numerous, provable effects on the mind and body.

Personal experiences

Gotu Kola is a brain and longevity tonic at least as much as it is an agent that supports healing in the physical body. Large doses may stimulate a rapid therapeutic response but are very difficult to sustain. At the time of writing I have reduced my use of Gotu Kola in formulae for my patients because I have found it can have too great a chance of causing difficulties with compliance. Perhaps this is just the particularly strong taste of the herb but when I look at some of the historical notes on Gotu Kola it seems that this may have been a problem for others as well. I am reviewing my use of the herb in tincture form and thinking about whether I may embark on finding a good encapsulated product (or even getting our own made up as we have with other herbs) to see if it is better tolerated in a pill form.

Gotu Kola does combine very well with Calendula and Turmeric to support healing in the physical body and with Basil and Withania to support a quiet and peaceful mind.

Please understand that I cannot personally advise you, including on products or dosage, without seeing you in my clinic but ideas on how you might find a good herbalist in your area are here.
This living 'book' is my labour of love so, wherever you are, I wish you peace & good health!




© 2011 R.J.Whelan Ltd