The Miracle Elixir of Life and Herb of Longevity
Now I am not a cure-all salesman but this herb we are discussing today has been used for over 2000 years in Ayruvedic and Chinese medicine and those titles were given to this herb by them. What herb am I referring to? Gotu Kola or Indian Pennywort
This herb is so fascinating to me that I am trying to find a way to grow it locally. So let's talk about growing Gotu Kola first then discuss why it is the elixir of life.
Gotu Kola (Centilla asiatica) is a frost tender perennial so it won't grow in our region naturally, if it survives our clay soil in the summer, it will surely die as our winter approaches. This plant is found in the wetlands of Asia, in tropical and sub-tropical countries in moist places. It is tasteless and odorless, often referred to as a mild spinach. In Asia they eat Gotu Kola as a vegetable as well as dry it and use in tea and capsules. The leaves are dark green and a fan shape with white or light pink small flowers. So how am I growing it in North Western Minnesota? Crazy? Maybe, but I love this herb.
I ordered the herb as an established perennial (thru Companion Plants) and planted it into a large planter, about 14 inches across in diameter. I used a quality potting soil and I keep the planter in a mostly sunny location that gets some relief from the sun during the day. I make sure I water the pot every 3 days, or enough to keep moist but not soggy. I fertilize monthly through the summer and harvest as it begins to really bush out. As fall approaches I start bringing the planter indoors for short periods of time to acclimate the plant to indoor lighting and air. I bring the planter indoors under plant lighting before the first frost comes. What I have noticed having it indoors since early October is that the plant definitely needs sunlight, so it will not do well simply placed in a window. If I do not water it regularly, the leaves quickly yellow and die. I have already harvested some leaves and it seems to be adjusting to my grow light just fine.
The Gotu Kola plant sends out runners that root and provide more leaves, so if growing in a planter you need to control those runners so they don't choke each other and harvest often as see it expanding. As spring approaches, I plan on cutting some of those runners with little roots and see if I cannot get another planter growing for this summer.
It's cumbersome but this plant is amazing and I want to grow my own so it is fresh and I know the conditions it was harvested and grown under. How amazing is it? Well let me share some research with you on that (sources at end of article).
In overview, Gotu Kola has been tested or touted for its beneficial effects for insomnia, boosting brain power, Alzheimer's, promoting liver and kidney health, healing skin issues, wound healing, minimizing scarring, even treating leprosy. Used in treatment of varicose veins, treating emotional disorders, high blood pressure and relieving joint pain of arthritis. That's a lot of impressive action for one little herb.
I will let you read the articles for study details on your own. You will notice that several of the studies are on small populations and most say more testing is needed. If you need scientific proof to validly claim what has been used for 2000 years, you will find testing is relatively new. Not a lot of funding is found to study these natural medicines, but in the case of Gotu Kola, there is so much discussion and use of the herb that scientists are curious to prove or disprove the claims.
In the use of Gotu Kola for Alzheimer's, they find it has a protective effect on the brain cells from toxicity and forming plagues associated with Alzheimer's. This is usually used in a tincture form for this treatment.
It's anti-anxiety effect was shown in sleep deprived mice. When the mice were given capsules of Gotu Kola before the stress (sleep deprivation) they had significantly less anxiety and oxidative damage.
Gotu Kola in treatment of varicose veins was found to reduce fluid retention and swelling due to its effect on the connective tissue of the vascular wall. This is applied as a cream with 1% gotu kola extract. This cream also works for wound healing, scarring and reducing stretch marks as well as for healing skin with leprosy sores.
In Ayruvedic medicine, Gotu Kola is the main herb for revitalizing nerve and brain cells. It is touted for its boosting of memory and learning. For Eastern healers, it is mainly used for treating emotional disorders (anxiety and depression). All healers regard it for it's anti-oxidative and inflammatory effects thus calling it the longevity herb.
Do not take Gotu Kola extracts if on sleep medicines or anti-anxiety prescriptions.
Contraindications are to not use during pregnancy, breast feeding of if have hepatitis or skin cancer or 2 weeks before surgery. Some practitioners do not recommend this herb for patients under the age of 18.
You will find this herb in the Kanji Naturals "Tranquility" tea blend and a future tea blend coming summer of 2020. Here's to your health, try a new herb or add one to your garden.
Questions, just ask me on this website chat board.
Vintage Remedies Advanced Herbalism Botannical Supplements, 1st edition
www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297 Indian J Parm Sci 2010