In nature, form follows function. It should come as no surprise then, that one of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine’s most treasured herbal medicines, Gotu Kola (Sanskrit: Brahmi, Latin: Centella Asiatica), is highly reminiscent of the shape of the human brain. After all, it has been revered for thousands of years for its ability to enhance cognitive function. But Gotu Kola’s impressive list of benefits goes much further than that—in every sense, this herb is a veritable panacea of healing; a true adaptogen (a term used to describe herbs that have a balancing and harmonizing effect on the mind, body, and spirit). For this reason, it was highly prized in both ancient India and China, with references to the plant showing up in classical Ayurvedic and Daoist medical texts.
1. Improved Brain Function & Longevity
In both countries and across Asia on the whole, Gotu Kola was known as a longevity herb. The Daoist master and herbalist Li Ching-Yuen was, in his time, a famous proponent and user of the plant. Ancient Chinese medical texts report that he died at the ripe age of 256 years old and attribute his longevity in large part to the use of Gotu Kola on a daily basis. While the accuracy of these records is up for debate, the fact is that Gotu Kola is a well studied herb, and the vast majority of its healing and therapeutic properties, including its ability to measurably prolong life, have been documented and validated by the scientific community. Its life-extending properties are most likely due to a synergistic combination of its powerful effects on the mind, body, and spirit—in every sense, the whole person. The plant’s benefits range from greatly improving memory and restoring brain cell and nerve function to improving blood quality and circulation, restoring digestion and speeding the healing of wounds.
2. Increased Intelligence & Cognitive Functioning
Of particular interest in our fast-paced, intellectually demanding modern world is Gotu Kola’s ability to enhance nearly every aspect of mental functioning. Typically herbs or substances that can achieve such feats are highly stimulating; however, Gotu Kola is centering, which makes it ideal for anyone looking for a cognitive boost without any of the unwanted and balancing side effects of stimulants. In one study, children who took a half a gram of Gotu Kola extract powder every day for one year demonstrated significant improvement of their intellectual level. After six months, there was a substantial improvement in intelligence, cognitive function and concentration.
3. Rebuilds the Nervous System & Reduces Anxiety and Stress
In Ayurvedic medicine, the effects of Gotu Kola classify it as a Rasayana, or rejuvenating herb, due to its ability to restore functioning, balance, and health to many parts of the mind and body. For example, it is an extremely healing herb for the nervous system and has been shown to repair and restore axons, which are used to transmit nerve impulses throughout the brain and body. As such, it has been used as an anti-anxiety, anti-stress and anti-insomnia medicine throughout its long history of human use.
The ability of Gotu Kola to improve blood quality and circulation  is likely one of the main components of its rejuvenating effects, as our blood comes into contact with and nourishes nearly every single area of our mind and body, supplying oxygen and other essential nutrients.
4. Psycho-Spiritual Effects: The Herb of Enlightenment
Gotu Kola has long been a favorite herb of Daoists, monks, yogis and sages due to its unique cerebral effects. Many Ayurvedic texts reference the herb’s spiritually enhancing properties, poetically referring to it as the ‘Herb of Enlightenment’. Meditators in particular have sought the plant out for its ability to harmonize the right and left brain hemispheres, which produces a heightened state of awareness, commonly seen in people demonstrating what Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has popularized as flow states—states where one becomes intensely absorbed with the activity at hand, in which learning and brain circuitry are significantly enhanced.
Gotu Kola grows widely throughout Central Asia and parts of Africa and is native to China, India, Indonesia, Japan, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and various islands in the South Pacific. It’s a small green plant similar on a genetic level to carrots that thrives in wet areas and is used in much the same way as one might use cilantro or parsley in the West. Many health-conscious locals add Gotu Kola leaves to salads for their positive effects as the plant is a general life-enhancing tonic and preventative. So the story goes, Sri Lankans noticed elephants regularly eating leaves of the plant, and after trying it themselves, discovered the quite noticeable and profound effects it had on memory and lifespan, which gives credence to the fact that the elephant has been mythologically associated with these qualities throughout human history.
5. Improves Blood Flow
Gotu Kola has other key health benefits for common ailments of the modern world, like a range of skin conditions and poor circulation, which can cause varicose veins and edema. It is a fantastic home remedy for wound treatment because of its ability to improve blood flow throughout the body, which helps scrapes and cuts heal faster.
6. Fights Cellulite
Gotu Kola herb is also a classic ingredient to fight cellulite on the skin. Cellulite often causes a lumpy, dimpled and ugly appearance – just like an orange peel! The problem areas of cellulite are upper arms, thighs, and buttocks. Gotu Kola acts as a diuretic by increasing the blood flow in the area and reducing the possible inflammation.
7. Beneficial For Hair Loss
Gotu Kola is also very famous for the treatment of hair loss. This herb also acts as a platform for hair re-growth. Hair loss happens when the hair follicles become weak due to malnourishment. This herb plays a very important role in strengthening the hair follicles and nourishing the scalp. It strengthens the blood vessels in the area and allows the small hair follicles to expand.
8. Improves The Blood Circulation In Scalp
The circulation of blood becomes better as the blood vessels relax, due to this herb. This makes space for the entry of oxygen and other important nutrients in the scalp. In the end, all that can be stated here is that Gotu Kola plays an important role in nourishing the scalp, preventing hair loss and promoting hair re-growth. It will provide us with strong, lustrous and beautiful hair.
The only slight trouble here is that the efficacy of Gotu Kola as a treatment for hair and scalp has still not been validated by the scientists.
9. Perfect for Aging Skin
Gotu Kola also acts as a toner for the skin. It tones and tightens the skin if you apply the herb topically. This is the reason why Gotu Kola is found in most of the anti-aging and skin firming creams these days. As this herb can promote the collagen production in the human body, it can definitely help in improving the condition of an aging skin, wrinkles, and fine lines. The fall of collagen production leads to fine lines, aging, and wrinkles. Gotu Kola’s ability to replete the collagen supply in the human body makes it the main ingredient in most of the anti-aging formulas.
10. Heals The Wound And Burns
Scientifically this herb is known as Centella Asiatica. It has anti-bacterial, anti viral and anti-inflammatory tendencies. Therefore, this herb can easily be used for the treatment of skin burns, psoriasis, dermatitis etc. This herb can easily heal the cut, wounds and burns on the skin because it has properties that increase the blood supply to the affected area and thus, raises the antioxidant level there. A rise in the antioxidant level promotes the production of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts help in synthesizing collagen and thus, help in diminishing the stretch marks and scars that appear on the skin.
11. Cures Bacterial And Viral Infections:
This herb is used for the treatment of common cold, urinary tract infection, influenza, shingles, tuberculosis, leprosy, H1N1 (Swine Flu), dysentery, cholera etc. Gotu Kola can be used for the treatment of all kinds of bacterial, viral and parasitical infection in human beings.
12. Gets Rid Of Fatigue:
This herb is also used for the treatment of fatigue. On eating this wonder herb, it provides you with a refreshing energy that will cure your weakness.
13. Improves Memory:
Gotu Kola also helps in the improvement of memory and intelligence, treating Alzheimer’s disease, depression and anxiety etc.
14. Treats Psoriasis
Gotu Kola can inhibit skin cell reproduction. While it is a treatment for psoriasis, it is not as strong as the standard drug used (psoralen).
15. Kills Cancer and Slows Tumor Growth
Known as an antiproliferative, Gotu Kola slowed the growth of some types of human tumor cells.
Got Kola inhibited human melanoma and breast cancer cells in test-tube models, however, clinical research is needed.
Gotu Kola Interactions
This increases the potency of ibuprofen, THC, ketamine, and others. It produces an action similar to St. John’s Wort, Ginkgo Biloba, and Modafinil (CYP2C9).
It increases the potency of opioids, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, amphetamines, and others, which is similar to cannabis and cocaine (CYP2D6).
Also, it increases the potency of sex hormones, benzodiazepines, statins, chemotherapy, caffeine, cocaine, and others, which acts similarly to grapefruit juice (CYP3A4).
Guidelines For Safe and Effective Use
If you are using the bulk powder, it is quite easy to make a tasty Gotu kola tea from the herb, which, when mixed with honey or simply straight up by itself in water makes an excellent medicinal drink to sip throughout the day.
If you are using capsules or tinctures you can simply take them with food at your convenience. It is recommended to try them for the first time in the morning as some people might find them slightly stimulating and energizing. However, others might find it more relaxing. The plant is a mild adaptogen so it tends to give you more of what you need.
The Brahmi Gotu kola oil can be applied to any non-sensitive area of your body for a soothing, restorative and rejuvenating effect. Many men and women in India and Asia use the oil for calming, healing and anti-aging effects.
Recommended dosages start at 1/2 gram daily up to 4 grams per day. It is always wise to start slow and work your way up to determine the optimal dose for your body.
A lot of people take around 1000 mg of Gotu Kola per day in capsules. Gotu Kola tea is another method and people have 1-5 cups over the day with about 1 g per cup.
Overall, the herb is remarkably safe and has been used without serious side effects for thousands of years. However, some people report that at higher dosages of the plant, they have noticed mild headaches, dizziness, and drowsiness. Like any medicinal plant, more is not always better and often lower dosages have just as much, if not more benefit.
There are few precautions and interactions with Gotu Kola to be worried about, however, if you are concerned about potential interactions with pharmaceutical medications, consult your doctor or naturopath for further guidance.
Sources: www.consciouslifestylemag.com / www.honeycolony.com / www.selfhacked.com