Gotu kola is a mainstay of herbal medicine in Ayurveda, although this herb has been around the fringes of European herbalism for many years. In fact, it was used in France in the 1880’s. Widely considered a superior herb for the nervous system, gotu kola has a host of benefits.
In Ayurvedic medicine, this herb is called “brahmi”, which means “godlike”, a reference to its anti-aging properties and to its use as an aid to meditation and it is considered to be the most spiritual of all herbs. (In Ayurveda, it is used interchangeably with bacopa monniera, which is also referred to as “brahmi”.) It has a bitter taste, is cooling to the body, and can be used to treat any of the three doshas. It is used to promote circulation, especially the blood vessels of the skin and mucous membranes, and is a rejuvenator for the nerves and brain.
Ayurveda claims that gotu kola strengthens memory, concentration and intelligence, promotes longevity, and improves the voice, physical strength and the complexion. It is used to treat diseases as diverse as epilepsy, senility, hair loss and psoriasis. At least one 2008 study detected improvements in the mood and cognition of a small sample of elderly patients who received at least 750 mg per day.
Respected for centuries in Asia for its treatment of the skin, gotu kola can help a host of skin conditions, including acne and dermatitis. This herb increases blood supply to connective tissue and increases protein growth in the skin. Gotu kola will actually promote new skin, gently closing and repairing even long-standing, painful lesions. The active substances in gotu kola are triterpenes, steroid-like compounds that improve the function and integrity of the collagen matrix that are the basic “glue” that holds the cells of our bodies together.
But this herb is probably best-known as a scar remedy. This leaf, a member of the parsley family, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Evidence continues to pour in from European and Indian researchers, who, in several studies, confirmed that gotu kola compounds promote rapid healing in wounds.
These qualities allow gotu kola to actually heal and re-grow new skin, gently closing and repairing even long-standing, painful lesions, skin ulcers and scars.
Several studies have shown impressive results in the treatment of even the most dramatically scarred skin and mucous membrane tissue. An impressive study of gotu kola in the treatment of extreme scar formation was done in Europe. Even at a very conservative dose, gotu kola was effective in 85% of the patients. Russian scientists then repeated the study and duplicated the results.
For inflammatory skin disorders, gotu kola works much better, and faster, when the dose is very high; from 1 to 3 ounces of dried herb per day. This can be accomplished as tea, but gotu kola also makes a tasty cooked green vegetable. Carefully clean the dried herb, remove the stems, and re-hydrate with a little water. You can cook the re-hydrated leaves like spinach or chard. It can be a little bitter, but is made palatable when mixed with an equal amount of spinach and cooked into tasty saag or korma.
Whether you need a pick me up, or want to smooth out an embarrassing scar, gotu kola may be just what you need! Please consult your local herbalist if you have additional questions or would like to figure out which preparation is right for you.