Centella asiatica / syn.Hydrocotyle asiatica
Gotu Kola is an inconspicuous herb that likes to grow in tropical swamps. It is not absolutely certain where it originated, but some sources suggest it may have travelled from Africa, via Madagascar to India, where it is no a highly revered household herb with a great reputation as a panacea. Gotu Kola is one of those Elixirs of Life, that is said to stimulate Chi, the life force. Gotu Kola is said to increase longevity, vitality and potency and Ayurvedic doctors often prescribe it to the elderly to counter the effects of ageing. It has also long been held sacred and valued as a meditation aid, as it enhances the ability to concentrate. Due to a mistaken association with Kola nuts, it is sometimes suggested that its effects are due to caffeine, but Gotu Kola does not contain caffeine and is not related to Kola nuts. Unfortunately its beneficial effects are not shared by the common European species Centella vulgaris.
Gotu Kola can be used for many different conditions. It is an excellent supportive herb for the elderly, which aids mental and nervous functions and counteracts memory loss. It can also be given to hyperactive children to increase their attention span. It is an overall tonic which appears to increase the haemoglobin levels in the blood. It is also richer in B vitamins than any other plant - the B vitamins play a significant role in the health of the brain and nervous system. Gotu Kola has also shown amazing effects on wound healing and regeneration of connective tissues. It is traditionally used to treat ulcers, leprosy and skin conditions and has recently shown good results on cellulites and varicose veins. In Ayurvedic medicine it is also used for stomach ulcers, indigestion and as an anti-inflammatory in rheumatoid conditions. It may be useful in Lupus and ME, but more studies need to be done.
Gotu Kola is an excellent herb to aid meditation as it clears the mind and enhances the ability to concentrate. It is a great elixir of life and can be used for longevity, virility and fertility. It is said to enhance sexual stamina and may be useful in tantric practices and sex magic.
Not all herbs are suitable in pregnancy, breastfeeding or for young children, or if you are unwell, or taking any medication. If in doubt, please ask a medical herbalist or healthcare practitioner.