Did you know that Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica has been in medicinal use in traditional herbal remedies since ancient times to enhance energy and provide many other health benefits? Whether you call it those names or Bacopa monnieri or Brahmi, the uses and benefits are real!
Before the advent of science-based drugs and pharmacology, long-term effective healing and cures in ancient societies were made possible through the use of natural products like Centella Asiatica. You’ll probably most-often hear it called Gotu Kola but its more familiar names include Indian Pennywort, Marsh Penny, Asiatic Pennywort and Water Penny.
Asian societies, for instance, document the use of herbal medicine and countless species of plants in curing diseases and afflictions. This is an important aspect of Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine’s holistic healing that is rooted in the concept of harmony with natural forces.
Indeed the use of ancient medicinal practices like acupressure and acupuncture complement the ingestion or application of natural herbal products in the form of powder, tea, dried leaves, or in their natural form as raw fruits, leaves, barks, roots, and sometimes even branches.
Public records and reports from the societies of countries in Southeast Asia like Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines show the extensive use of these natural products like Gotu Kola as medicines, supplements, and ingredients for food and drink  . This regional familiarity with and reliance on natural products for healthy living and well-being is characteristic of cultures which believe in a philosophy focused on the harmony between man and nature.
Centella asiatica (or gotu kola) is a small herbal annual plant which grows and flourishes in wet areas including swampy areas and along the path of sewage flows making it vulnerable to bacteria .
Despite this, centella asiatica is an extremely popular ingredient in South Asian and Southeast Asian cuisine. The leaves of this herb are eaten raw or mixed with other ingredients into vegetable salads and fresh vegetable rolls, and is used extensively as a refreshing cool drink. Gotu kola is sometimes mixed with other herbs to enhance the taste of dishes or with the local staple like rice and coconut .
- 1 Health Benefits of Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola, Brahmi, Bacopa monnieri)
- 2 Current Studies on Centella asiatica
- 3 Gotu Kola Side Effects, Warnings and Dosage
- 4 Is gotu kola a diuretic?
- 5 The Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi, Gotu Kola)
- 6 Hydrocotyle asiatica
Health Benefits of Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola, Brahmi, Bacopa monnieri)
Centella asiatica is well-known in three regions (East Asia, South Asia, and Southeast Asia) as an herbal supplement that has therapeutic properties, nootropic activity that improves mood, cognition, mental ability and memory and enhances longevity while fighting the symptoms of anxiety (; ).
Gotu Kola is essentially brain food. if you look closely at one of the plant’s leaves, you’ll even see it looks like the two lobes of the brain and all the neurological veins sitting on top of the spinal column!
This herb is used to strengthen the nervous system and adrenal glands. Epilepsy, senility and premature aging are improved through the use of this herb (;  ).
This herb is used to enhance meditation and foster rejuvenation and a good restful sleep patterns.
Evidence also indicates that Gotu Kola improves blood circulation, cleans the circulatory system of toxins, and gives relief to high-blood pressure .
Bacopa monnieri hastens the healing of wounds, is used to remedy leprosy, has benefits for the skin and liver and is used to prevent infection and strengthen immunity ( ;  ). It even helps topically with the cosmetic appearance of stretch-marks.
Herbal enthusiasts’ reviews testify to the efficacy and effectiveness of centella asiatica as having enhanced personal appearance and youthfulness, slowed down aging, improved vision, eliminated too-visible varicose veins, managed blood pressure, increase energy levels. Anecdotal evidence in Asia abounds about the many medicinal uses of this wonderfully healing herb (;  ).
Current Studies on Centella asiatica
Pharmacological studies and current scientific researches on Centella asiatica affirm the role of this herb in healing and rejuvenating practices for thousands of years in Asia .
One scientific study on gotu kola called it a “potential herbal cure-all.”
The entire plant of 20 species and varieties grown in the region is totally utilized for medicinal purposes: the fan-like leaves, the pink and white flowers, and the oval fruit .
In addition to all other properties attributed to the centella asiatica, pre-clinical pharmacological studies are focusing on the analysis of this cure-all herb to support claims of healing of wounds, venous insufficiency, sedative and anxiolytic properties, anti-depressant properties, anti-epileptic properties, cognitive and antioxidant properties, relief from gastric ulcer, antinociceptive and anti-inflammatory properties, radio-protection and other uses .
Gotu Kola Side Effects, Warnings and Dosage
Concerns of medical practitioners regarding Centella asiatica is the discovery of possible side effects, contraindications, and the safe dosage given the fact that in many instances it is consumed raw (the fresh leaves) and in varying quantities. If you’re taking this as an herbal supplement, extract powder, capsule, tea or tincture, do careful research and proceed with caution when dosing, even though Gotu Kola is widely considered a safe herb by practitioners of alternative healing.
Start your Bacopa monnieri daily dose at 500mg and ease up from there. Many of the clinical trials are at doses of around 1g. If you’re hoping for the mental benefits of calmless, anti-anxiety, mental alertness, etc. it’s highly recommended that you take gotu kola every single day. As mentioned, I take the Lost Empire Herbs brand and I take it every day and then cycle off the first five days of every month, when I take no herbal supplements at all.
The main gotu kola warnings have to do with pregnant and lactating women. Always consult a primary care physician before embarking upon any alternative health treatment, especially when pregnant and/or lactating.
Is gotu kola a diuretic?
Diuretics help purge the body of excess fluids and gotu kola tends to aid with water retention. Anecdotal reports indicate that it works very well when taken as a complement of traditional diuretic herbs like juniper berry, astragalus, green tea and gingko biloba.
 Centella asiatica (n.d.) Available from: http://www.wikipedia.org (Accessed on August 16, 2014)
Centella asiatica (n.d.) Available from: http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-gotu-kola.html) (Accessed on August 16, 2014)
Gohil, Kashmira J., Patel, Jagruti E., and Gajjar, Anuradha K. (2010). Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PM3116297. (Accessed on August 16,2014)
Gotu Kola (n.d.) Available from: http://webmed.com (Accessed on August 16, 2014)
The Benefits of Bacopa Monnieri (Brahmi, Gotu Kola)
Bacopa monnieri, Gotu Kola or brahmi, is a creeping, perennial herb that belongs to the Plantaginaceae family. The herb is known by other names including herb of grace, water hyssop, Indian pennywort, nirbrahmi, Hespestis monniera, baby’s tear, bacopa, thyme-leaved gratiola, Sambrani chettu, jalanimba, and jalnaveri, among other names.
The herb, which can grow to about six inches in height, contains several branches that creep horizontally and cover the ground. The plant has small, oval-shaped leaves that are relatively thick and succulent. The leaves alternately grow on the hairy, soft stem. For most of the year, brahmi produces purple-white flowers with four or five petals. The oval fruit is sharp at the apex.
Brahmi has been used since 5000 BCE in Ayurveda as a nerve tonic to improve intellect and memory, promote mental health, and promote longevity and youthful vitality. It has also been used for its tranquilizing, antioxidant, and adaptogenic properties.
The herb was named after Brahma, the Hindu god who created the universe and knowledge. Notably, the herb was used during infants’ consecration ceremonies, as the herb was believed to open up pathways of intelligence for the child.
Brahmi is native to the wetlands and marshlands of Australia, southern India, Asia, Europe, Africa, South America, and North America. The plants also grow under shade and sun and can also be grown in pots.
The Bacopa monnieri plant can be propagated through soft herbaceous cuttings. To widely propagate it, the entire plant is divided into smaller parts, which are directly planted in the sunken beds. Cuttings that are five to six inches long, each with a few nodes and leaves, establish easily and are ideal. Flood irrigation should be provided right after planting.
The entire plant, which is edible, is used in a medicinal capacity. The plant is used to make oil or paste that is therapeutic to various medical conditions. Some of the active constituents of Bacopa monnieri that make it beneficial to health include saponins, sterols, alkaloids, stimastorol, betulic acid, betasitosterol, bacopasaponins, and bacoside.
Benefits of Brahmi
In Ayurveda, brahmi is used for its effect on blood circulation that promotes the proper functioning of the kidneys, lungs, and liver. Traditionally, the plant, which is used to stimulate skin cell growth and regeneration, is also used to treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, ulceration, and abscess. Scientific studies have also been conducted to prove the plant’s benefits on health.
Some of brahmi’s benefits include:
- Memory enhancer
- Brain tonic
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Asthma treatment
- Depression treatment
- Epilepsy treatment
- Stress reduction herb
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Increases sex drive
- Hoarseness and cough
- High cholesterol levels
- Inflammatory conditions
A University of Wollongong, Australia study – to test brahmi’s chronic effects on human memory – suggested that brahmi enhanced the test subjects’ capacity to retain new information while maintaining learning capability.
The naturally occurring nitric oxide in Bacopa monnieri has positive effects on the activity of the brain. The bacosides release nitric oxide, which relaxes the veins and aorta. They enable blood flow to nourish the nerves and, thus, promote focus and mental clarity and improve cognitive capability.
In a 2009 study, Alzheimer’s disease was induced in rat subjects. Afterwards, the rats were given brahmi extract to determine the effects on Alzheimer’s. The study determined that rats given brahmi had improved cognitive ability. The extract also eased brain neuron reduction.
In a study involving rats, the animals were given pilocarpine for them to have epileptic episodes. The brahmi extract given afterwards exhibited a positive effect on the hippocampus. Epileptic rats’ depressive behavior was reversed when brahmi was administered, compared to the animals that were not given the extract.
A 2003 study suggested that brahmi has antioxidant properties; it neutralizes free radicals and protects DNA cleavage. Such study is valuable when it comes to treating diseases that are brought on by free radicals.
In Ayurveda, brahmi has a cooling energy and balances pitta and vata. Its taste is sweet, bitter, and astringent. Its main traditional action is anti-anxiety, medhya rasayana, and nervine.
In Ayurveda, Bacopa monnieri is used as a brain tonic as it reduces dullness, calms the mind, and enhances memory and intelligence. It also helps with depression and anxiety and relieves inflammation and pain. Aside from being used to enhance cognitive ability and treat many other medical conditions, brahmi is being studied currently for uses in non-traditional or Western medicine.
Hydrocotyle asiatica is a small umbelliferous plant that grows in India, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Southeast Asia and other tropical countries, and is native to the warm regions of the Southern United States. The plant has fan-shaped leaves that are roughly the same size as that of an old British penny, from which it acquired its common names: Indian Pennywort, Water Pennywort, and Marsh Penny. It is also known as Gotu Kola and Brahma-manduki and as an herbal extract powder its called Bacopa monnieri .
For thousands of years, Hydrocotyle asiatica has been traditionally used in India as an Ayurvedic medicine. The herb is listed in an ancient Indian medical text called Susruta Samhita. The people of Java as well as other islands of Indonesia also use the plant. In China, it is one of the so-called “miracle elixirs of life.” The herb is notably mentioned in the Shennong Herbal, which means that it was used in China more than 2000 years ago. Starting in the nineteenth century Hydrocotyle asiatica and its extract were included in the Indian pharmacopeia in which, along with being advocated for wound healing, it was recommended for treating skin conditions like eczema, lupus, psoriasis, leprosy, and varicose ulcers. It was also used as a treatment for amenorrhea, diarrhea, fever, and female genitourinary tract diseases. In the 1880s, the herb was first officially recognized as a beneficial drug in France.
The appearance of Hydrocotyle asiatica changes depending on its growing conditions. In dry locations, the leaves are thin and small and the plant also puts out numerous small roots. In shallow water, the leaves usually lie on top of the water and the plant puts out floating roots. The constantly growing roots of the plant generally cause reddish stolons. Three to six red flowers usually develop in a sessile manner (the flowers do not have stalks, but are attached to the stem) or on short pedicels. The fruits are formed throughout the plant’s growing seasons and are about two inches long with a curved, thick pericarp (fruit wall), and seven to nine ribs. The entire Hydrocotyle asiatica plant is used medicinally.
Benefits of Bacopa monnieri
- Remedy for leprosy
- Alterative tonic
- Compress for syphilitic ulcers
- Strengthens the immune system by nourishing and cleansing
- Useful for:
- Bowel disorders
- Hair loss
- Wound healing
- Venereal diseases
- Chronic venous insufficiency
- Nervous disorders
- Mental function
Hydrocotyle asiatica is a rejuvenative nervine used to treat nervous disorders, senility, premature aging, and epilepsy. As a brain tonic, the herb is considered to be useful in enhancing memory and intelligence, which is why it is also called “food for the brain.” To treat skin impurities, it is used to cleanse the blood. It also strengthens the adrenal glands and is used to help in meditation in order to maintain balance between the two hemispheres of the brain. The herb is particularly helpful for people who are stressed. It is used to combat depression, anxiety, and stress, fight sterility, avoid nervous breakdown, improve reflexes, and energize weakening facilities.
Hydrocotyle asiatica relieves high blood pressure, helps the body defend against numerous toxins, rebuilds energy reserves, and stimulates the central nervous system. The Bacopa monnieri plant is used to treat blood diseases, hepatitis, urinary tract infections, congestive heart failure, and venereal diseases. It is considered a mild diuretic that could aid in shrinking swollen membranes and help in eliminating excess fluids. It can also speed up the healing of wounds.
Hydrocotyle asiatica also has a positive effect on the body’s circulatory system. It can help improve blood flow, while strengthening the capillaries and veins. It is successfully used to treat leg cramps, phlebitis, and abnormal itching of the extremities.
When Bacopa monnieri is applied during the inflammatory stage of the wound, it can help reduce scarring. Hydrocotyle asiatica was discovered to be an effective treatment on patients that have third degree burns when applied immediately after the accident. Together with intramuscular injections, daily local topical use on the affected area can limit the shrinking of the skin while it is healing. The herb helps in preventing infection and inhibits the formation of scars.
Hydrocotyle asiatica is the best rejuvenative herb for the nerves and brain cells.