Pegaga or Gotu Kola as it is commonly known around the world, has been used as a powerful herbal remedy across continents for generations.
The botanical name of Pegaga is Centella Asiatica and it has been an important ingredient in many herbal remedies spanning traditional Chinese, African, Southeast Asian and Ayurvedic medicine through the generations. From midwifery and improving brain health to hastening healing after childbirth or injury, Pegaga has traditionally been a major ingredient for many ailments and conditions. The plant is predominantly found in Southeast Asia, India, South Africa and parts of China and has featured in these countries’ traditional forms of medicine and healing.
History of healing
Pegaga may only be on the herbal healing radar now but it has been used for a long time. The herb has been studied since the 17th century when it was already known then that consuming the plant and applying it topically yielded positive results. It is said that French doctors may have used to cure everything from infertility to stomach ailments while British doctors used it to ease the effects of leprosy.
One of its most popular uses through the ages has been for healing skin ailments. In traditional Chinese medicine, it’s known as one of the ‘miracle elixirs of life’ and held in great esteem for its medicinal attributes. It is to this herb that the legend of how a famous sage lived for over two centuries came about!
Pegaga features heavily in Ayurvedic medicine, which has been practised for 5,000 years and noted in ancient Sanskrit writings. As with traditional Chinese medicine, one of Pegaga’s main functions in the Ayurvedic arena has been the treatment of skin conditions including eczema, psoriasis and healing infected wounds. Another important use was as a brain tonic and to treat mental conditions like anxiety, fatigue and stress; and was known for its calming effects.
Food as medicine
Locally, Pegaga has always been part of a traditional Malay salad called ulam along with other herbs like Raja Ulam and Vietnamese mint. There are over 50 herbs and condiments that can be used in an ulam and they were initially very much part of a rural diet. These herbs and vegetables were foraged in the jungle and along streams and rivers, and were consumed not only as food but also for their many medicinal properties. Their benefits were passed down by word of mouth, especially amongst village midwives who used Pegaga for post-partum healing during the confinement period.
Using food to treat ailments has always been a mainstay of traditional medicine, which is why Pegaga has been the subject of many studies. Based on its effective use for millennia, Pegaga is enjoying a resurgence in popularity with more and more people swearing by it efficacy particularly for wound healing, improving brain function and skin anti-aging properties. There are no side effects, anyone can take it from students needing a memory boost to those wanting a natural way of getting rid of wrinkles and fine lines; and it’s readily available fresh from the market or as an easy-to-take supplement