Gotu kola is a small creeping perennial herbal plant that flourishes in wet, rich humus soil, as well as the sandy and clay soils of Malaysia, Indonesia, India, China, Eastern Europe, Sri Lanka, and South Africa. In Malaysia, China, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia, the plant is commonly eaten as a vegetable. In Thailand, gotu kola is also used to make a cooling infusion that can be consumed.
Gotu kola has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine in Malaysia, Indonesia, and India for the past 5,000 years, mainly as a brain tonic. Ayurveda, which means “life knowledge,” is a medical practice that is directed at developing a knowledge for healthy living, rather than just treating diseases.
This extract is central to Ayurvedic medicine because it has properties for not just treating diseases, but also preventing a great many damaging conditions. Gotu kola may even help extend a healthy life.
The plant has many names, depending on the country of its origin. What Americans know as gotu kola is referred to in various countries as Asian pennywort, Indian pennywort, pegaga, and kaki. Its scientific name is Centella asiatica.
The main beneficial components of gotu kola include a group of compounds called triterpenoid saponins, which include asiatic acid, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid. These compounds play a major role in wound healing.
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