Gotu Kola, Pegaga or or Centella Asiatica, is one of the world’s most powerful adaptogenic herbs, even being called the ‘miracle elixir of life’ and ‘a pharmacy in one herb’, and for good reason!
If you were told there was an ancient tropical plant native to Malaysia that could boost brain function (for children and adults), hasten the healing of wounds, was a powerful antioxidant and even improve overall skin quality — wouldn’t you want find to out more?
Revered by Daoist masters and Yogis for thousands of years as a powerful longevity boosting herb, Gotu Kola is known as the most spiritual herb in India, and the “fountain of youth” in China for its ability to speed wound healing, protect the heart, and help heal just about everything.
Gotu Kola, known variously as Centella Asiatica, Indian Pennywort and Pegaga in Malaysia, is a plant found growing in warm tropical countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka and even the South Pacific. It has been used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to treat and ease many conditions including the common cold, fatigue and bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
The leaf of the plant is used as the main ingredient in creams, capsules, as a tea or even consumed fresh. It contains important nutrients such as vitamin C, B vitamins and phytonutrients (tannin, polyphenol, flavonoids). Here in Malaysia, Gotu Kola is eaten fresh and is an ingredient of ulam, a traditional Malay salad comprising herbs and raw vegetables like Ulam Raja, Selom and Pegaga.
We spoke to Professor Gerard Bodeker, Chairman of the Oxford-based Global Initiative For Traditional Systems of Health, who did his doctoral research at Harvard University focusing on Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine. Here’s what he had to say:
“Pegaga has been a staple of Malay herbal salads (ulam) throughout history. Quite naturally, it has helped maintain youthful skin quality and a clear mind. What this wonderful plant does is to increase collagen and fibronectin production leading to improved skin elasticity and youthfulness, while also enhancing brain connectivity. We now understand the science behind the benefits that generations before us knew from experience. It’s such a good brain tonic that every student should be having this daily, and most adults could protect the ageing brain by consuming it too.”
4 Key Benefits of Consuming Gotu Kola
1. Improves brain function and memory
This is the most interesting and renowned benefit of consuming this herb as it is said to improve memory and mental cognition (learning, problem solving, decision making). A study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease stated that the extract of the herb could improve memory by ‘enhancing the activity of a pathway associated with long-term memory formation’.
Tests carried out have shown that cognitive function including memory boosting have improved after the consumption of Gotu Kola.
2. Improves skin quality
Due to the fact that Gotu Kola also contains amino amino and fatty acids, beta carotene and phytonutrients, it is the perfect natural remedy to calm inflammation, hasten healing processes, improve circulation and even stimulate cell growth.
These benefits naturally lead to skin rejuvenation, new cell growth and improving collagen production; which means skin looks and feels smoother. Another added benefit of the improved collagen production is that it also helps strengthen hair and nail growth. Gotu Kola is even recommended for the treatment of skin lesions such as excoriations, burns, hypertrophic scars or eczema.
3. Aids digestion and detoxifies
Another popular use of this herb is to detoxify and aid in digestion. Due to its mild diuretic properties, consuming it helps flush out of excess toxins, ease inflammation, boost energy levels and instigate weight loss, all while keeping fluid balance even and nourishing the body.
Releasing toxins has many benefits including easing inflammation, boosting energy levels, improving skin texture and just making you feel 'lighter' and cleansed.
4. Powerful antioxidant
Gotu Kola is also effective in enhancing antioxidant activity the body, which in turn helps alleviate inflammation. Protecting the body’s cells against inflammation can help prevent chronic diseases and inflammatory disorders such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and arthritis.
There are many illnesses whose symptoms are eased and improved with the consumption of Gotu Kola. Research has even shown that Gotu Kola can help kill cancer cells. A 2008 study showed that using a Gotu Kola extract in the treatment of human breast cancer cells successfully helped blocked cancer growth and induced cancer cell death.
With all its incredible health boosting properties, the herb has famously earned its reputation as the herb of longevity amongst many ancient traditions. Able to help heal and support the body in many ways, it’s easy to see how Gotu Kola can be a beneficial to the health of children and adults.
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