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Gotu kola, Asian pennywort or Indian pennywort, and botanically known as centella asiatica, is a herbaceous, perennial plant in the apiaceae family. It is native to Africa, Asia, and Australia.
[Note: The Right Flowers is not a medical site. Knowledge of and information about the therapeutic benefits and applications of flowers, while known through the ages, does not constitute medical advice. If you are having health issues, you should consult with a physician.]
Gotu kola is grown for medicinal and culinary purposes. The plant grows in wetlands or marshy places. In some instances, gotu kola can grow in shallow water by floating its roots in water. In the US, gotu kola occurs in hardiness zones 7-11.
Asian pennywort is a creeping plant with kidney-shaped leaves. The leaves feature serrated edges and resemble a fan due to their uneven edges. Between July and August, it produces tiny pink or white blossoms in clusters. Gotu kola blossoms are normally hidden beneath the leaves and are hard to find unless you are looking for them.
Indian pennywort is one of the highly revered Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines. In Ayurvedic medicine, this tonic remedy is used to help in clearing foggy thoughts, managing stress, and boosting memory.
The ability of the plant to boost cognitive functions is one of the reasons it is held in high regard. It is no wonder that gotu kola was fondly referred to as the longevity herb.
Gotu kola’s claims as the longevity herb were supported by Li Ching-Yuen, a Daoist herbalist and master, who used the plant regularly. According to ancient records, Li died aged 256 years. The herbalist attributed his long life to the daily use of gotu kola.
For more than 2000 years, the plant has been hailed as a legendary miraculous herb for its ability to boost focus and clarity as well as calm nerves. Modern herbalists use gotu kola to treat wounds, and bacterial infections and enhance nerve function.
The plant is considered a safe remedy as it is also edible. This means that it can be taken as a tincture, infusion or included in beverages and soups.
Gotu kola contains triterpenes. These boost the production of collagen, a critical building block of the skin. The plant has antiviral, antifungal, antiinflammatory, insecticidal and antibacterial properties. These qualities make the plant ideal for managing skin conditions including psoriasis, healing minor burns, wounds, and scars.
Before the advent of modern medicine, gotu kola was a popular remedy for leprosy in India. Studies seeking to authenticate these claims show that the plant contains asiaticoside, a triterpenoid. The compound is immunomodulatory, antioxidant, wound healing and anti-inflammatory. Asiaticoside increases migration rates of skin cells which promotes wound healing.
Gotu kola, the herb of longevity, is an interesting plant that you should have growing in your garden, not necessarily for ornamental purposes but for health purposes.