Gotu Kola – characteristics, cultivation and use

Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola - by Forest & Kim Starr

Gotu Kola is known especially as a superfood. In fact, the plants contain many valuable minerals and vitamins, if their taste is usually remembered as bitter. However, Gotu Kola is a well-known herb in Asia. It is all used for wound healing and depressive moods and anxiety.

Profile of Gotu Kola:

Scientific name: Centella asiatica

Plant family: umbellifer (Apiaceae)

Other names: centella, Asiatic pennywort, Indian pennywort

Sowing time / Planting time: in preculture

Flowering period: June – August

Harvest time: May – Septmber

Useful plant parts: leaves

Location: partially shaded to shady

Soil quality: nutrient-rich and moist soils

These information are for temperate climate!

Use as a medicinal herb: psoriasis, wound healing, difficulty concentrating, acne, irritable stomach

Use as aromatic herb: herbal quarks, cream cheese, smoothies, salads

Plant characteristics and classification of Gotu Kola

Origin and occurrence of Gotu Kola

The natural habitat of Gotu Kola is probably the tropical and subtropical regions of East and South Asia. Today the plant is represented almost worldwide in the whole tropical area. Larger occurrences are in India, China, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, South Africa, Malaysia and South America.

The plant, also known as Indian pennywort, can be found wild above all in very humid or marshy areas. Its claim to the soil are relatively low, which is why the plant can easily pretend as a neophyte (invasive plants) in other regions.

Plant order of Gotu Kola

Although optics do not suggest, Gotu Kola belongs to the family of the umbelliferae (Apiaceae). The tropical plant is thus related to well-known herbs such as dill, coriander or anise. Recent studies on the molecular structure of the plant show that the plant may have a genetically close relationship with the aralias. These include known medicinal plants like the Siberian ginseng.

The genus Centella today contains about 50 species, most of which are relatively unexplored.

Characteristics of Gotu Kola

Plant

The Indian pennywort reaches heights of growth up to 20 cm (8 in), but in most cases does not exceed 10 cm (4 in). Gotu Kola is a perennial and frost-sensitive plant that grows exclusively creeping. Their roots are vertically growing rhizomes, which have a creamy white color. The rhizomes themselves have fine hairs.

Leaves

The leaves of Gotu Kolas are basically stalked and can take a width between 2 to 4 inches (0.8 to 1.6 in). The leaf shape is rounded, notched and has a navel-like depression that is eponymous for the plant. Occasionally, the leaves are a little reminiscent of creeping Jenny. The stem is rather thin and smooth.

Downwards to the ground, the simple stems become so-called stolons (above ground runner like strawberries form). This term refers to extensions or fast-growing side shoots, from which new shoots can emerge.

Flowering

There is no direct flowering time for the tropical plant. Mostly Gotu Kola forms new flowers throughout the year. In contrast, in our climates, the plant can flower between July and August. These then usually show a white, bright red and rarely purple color. With 2 to 4 mm (0.08 to 0.16 in) in diameter, however, these are relatively inconspicuous. Each flower is hermaphrodite and consists of five stamens and usually six petals.

Ripeness

The flowers develop reticular fruits with dense and fine hair. Each fruit usually contains two seeds.

Gotu Kola – cultivation, sowing and care

Since Gotu Kola has a certain reputation as a superfood, there is also a growing desire to grow the plant in the garden or at home. In principle, a cultivation from seeds is possible. However, this requires a lot of experience and knowledge about the plant. It is easier to cultivate with fresh or already preferred plants.

Location

As an optimal location, a partially shaded to shady location is recommended. Sunny spots are sometimes tolerated, however, Gotu Kola then often reacts with mingy grows.

Soil

The soil should be permeable and nutrient-rich. The plant is used to a damp environment, therefore, the soil should keept moist. For very clayey soils, therefore, sand or other aggregates such as pumice or lava should be mixed in. If a pond with shadow area is available in the garden, the Indian pennywort can be grown as a waterfront plant.

Gotu Kola can easily be grown on terraces or balconies. In particular, shady northern sides are particularly suitable here.

Sowing

The cultivation of Gotu Kola by seeds is possible in principle. There are a few key points to consider in order for the plant to germinate as well. Important points are:

  • damp environment
  • drainage layer
  • loose earth
  • warm temperatures around 20 ° C / 68 ° F
  • much patience

If possible, the seeds should be incorporated in medium-deep pots or smaller plant containers. As a sowing soil, a peaty substrate is recommended which is mixed with drainable material (e.g., expanded clay, pumice). If possible, some biochar can be incorporated. The plant is considered light germ. The seeds should therefore be prwssed slightly into the soil. The soil must be kept permanently moist and warm, otherwise germination will be avoided. It may take several weeks to months for the first seedlings to be seen.

Watering

Gotu Kola is a moisture-loving plant. The soil should never completely dry out if possible. Already during short dry periods, the plant reacts with stress, which is noticeable by withered leaves. Inasmuch as Gotu Kola is grown as a pot culture, the incorporation of a drainage layer of expanded clay is recommended.

Fertilizing

The Indian pennywort is indeed a nutrient-loving plant. In potted cultures, however, it is usually sufficient to use a nitrogen fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks. In the winter months fertilizing can be dispensed. Insofar as the leaf margins turn yellowish or growth should be absent, a micronutrient-enriched fertilizer may be needed. Insofar as the plant is to be consumed, a liquid organic or at least organomineral fertilizer is recommended.

Diseases and pests

In very good conditions of location and care, diseases are rarely expected. However, Gotu Kola may be attacked by lice. Especially mealybugs and woolly aphids are occasionally found on the underside of the leaves. In case of lice, a diluted soap solution can help well to get rid of the pests.

Wintering

As a frost-sensitive plant Gotu Kola should be winterized in the house in the late autumn to early spring months. The plant tolerates temperatures up to -4 ° C / 25 ° F.

Use of Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola in the kitchen

Gotu Kola is definitely used in the kitchen. In most cases, however, it is used more as a superfood rather than as a gourmet herb. The taste is slightly bitter and subtly aromatic.

The leaves of the plant can be processed well in salads, herbal quarks or smoothies. Gotu Kola is usually mixed with other plants and spices such as curcuma, brahmi or jiaogulan to promote general vitality. There are countless recipes on various websites where the leaves or powders of Gotu Kola are processed. Basically, the leaves contain important minerals and vitamins, which can vary greatly from plant to plant.

Gotu kola as a medicinal herb

In recent years, more and more attention has been paid to the Indian pennywort. In natural medicine, there are numerous recommendations for the treatment of skin diseases or nervous restlessness, so that the herb is now known to many people.

In the Middle Ages Gotu Kola was hardly known in Europe. All known herbal books of the Middle Ages show no evidence of use. In Asia, however, the Gotu Kola has a long history. India’s traditional Ayurvedic medicine has been using the plant for hundreds of years to cleanse the blood, strengthen memory and prevent wound healing. The plant is called Mandukarpani. Gotu Kola has also been used in China for more than 2000 years. It is considered one of the elixir of life and still has great significance in traditional folk medicine today.

Medicinal properties

  • antibacterial
  • antifungal
  • anti-inflammatory
  • possibly tumor-inhibiting
  • slightly anxious
  • wound-healing

Priority should be given to the anti-inflammatory and wound healing-promoting effects, which have meanwhile also been scientifically well studied. The triterpene asiaticoside promotes the formation of new connective tissue. In particular, the production of collagen 1 in human fibroblasts is accelerated. Many manufacturers of medicated ointments and skin cosmetics are therefore increasingly using the plant extracts to promote skin and tissue regeneration. This explains the use in psoriasis as well as inflamed and dry skin. Madecassosid, on the other hand, accelerates the wound healing process and has an anti-rheumatic effect.

Gotu Kola can be used for these ailments and diseases

  • acne
  • burn wounds
  • cellulite
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritable stomach and irritable bowel
  • leishmaniosis (presumably)
  • loss of memory
  • prevention of scarring
  • psoriasis
  • skin ulcers
  • ulcers
  • wound healing

Gotu Kola also seems to have an effect on the central nervous system. In particular, the saponin may alleviate mild anxiety, reduce mild depression, and improve cognitive ability. However, to be effective, a dose of at least 12 grams / 0.4 oz per day is necessary. With a tea, as it is often recommended, this dose can not be achieved. In this context, only capsules with the extract of the medicinal herb would be considered.

Depending on the application, ointments and envelopes are the usual dosage forms. There are already finished preparations on the market. Also, baths with Gotu Kola are possible, insofar as wound healing is to be accelerated or stimulated. For such baths finished tinctures or self-made tea extracts can be used. Two to three baths per day are recommended to achieve an effective effect.

To prepare an envelope, dry can be doused with 200 ml / 7 fl oz of hot water. The brew should draw for about 10 to 15 minutes before being strained. Then a cheesecloth can be dipped in and the affected area be treated. Please do not treat open wounds with the broth, as pathogens can invade the wound.

Side effects

There are currently no known side effects with proper use of Gotu Kola. Due to the meager situation in pregnant women and breastfeeding should be dispensed with the internal intake of water nipples.

Disclaimer:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist. Visiting this page can not replace the visit to the doctor. For serious or unclear complaints, consult your doctor.

Gotu Kola buy – What is there to note

Many plant markets offer fresh Gotu Kola plants in pots at planting season. The underside of the leaves should be checked as well as the moisture condition of the plant. Inasmuch as a dry soil or white spots on the leaves are detected, a purchase should be avoided. Occasionally, the plant is also offered as Brahmi. This is not to be confused with the brahmi (Bacopa monnieri).

If fresh plants are bought, which are also to be used for medical purposes, one should pay attention to the leaf size. The larger the leaves, the more effective triterpene compounds are also included.

To produce their own envelopes dried Gotu Kola leaves can be purchased. Good qualities are mostly from Madagascar, where the Gotu Kola is grown on a large scale. The prices vary, depending on the cultivation, between 4 and 13 EUR/$ per 100 grams / 3.5 oz.

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