The silver bullet to dealing with a wide range of skin and hair care needs is how many herbal practitioners describe Gotu Kola. The herb Gotu Kola is used extensively by herbal medicine practitioners across India, Indonesia, and China. The versatile herb is believed to have potential properties that can benefit the brain, joints, skin, etc1. Traditionally used in culinary and medicinal preparations, experts across the globe are now studying the beneficial properties of the perennial herb. The herb is also being used along with other modern remedies to enhance cognitive brain function, skin health, and much more.
What is Gotu Kola?
Multiple studies and trials have identified certain potential properties of Gotu Kola, including aiding and enhancing collagen production, improving blood circulation, healing wounds and scars, enhancing cognitive skills, purifying the blood, and rejuvenating the mind and body.
Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) is a leafy perennial herb belonging to the Umbelliferae (Apiaceae) family. The plant has tasteless and odorless, small fan-shaped green leaves. Research has highlighted that the active ingredients like triterpenoid saponins found throughout the plant give Gotu Kola its medicinal and therapeutic properties2. As far as the nutritional value3 of the herb is concerned, Gotu Kola is a rich source of dietary fiber, calcium, vitamin A, B2, C, Calcium, Potassium, and Iron. Gotu Kola is often confused with Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), however, both the herbs are different from each other.
What does Ayurveda say about Gotu Kola?
Gotu Kola is mentioned extensively in various Ayurvedic scriptures and Sushruta Samhita. The herb in ancient texts is referred to as mandukparni or jalbrahmi. As per Ayurveda, Gotu Kola has some promising properties that make it an indispensable part of medicinal preparations. Some significant properties as mentioned in Ayurvedic scriptures, Charak Samhita, and Sushruta Samhita include antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, blood purifying, anti-aging properties, etc4. Several ancient scriptures also mention the use of Gotu Kola for its potential ability to revitalize the nerves and brain cells5.
In ayurvedic practices, Gotu Kola or mandukparni is used for balancing Kapha, Pitta, and Vata dosha, making it a Tridoshak herb. Ayurvedic scriptures suggest that Gotu Kola's calming properties help balance mental or emotional aggravations involving both Vata and Pitta dosha. It can additionally help reduce excess Kapha in the body. Ayurveda mentions that Gotu Kola can also help balance pitta's sub-doshas, including sadhaka pitta (related to the intellect, conscious thinking, understanding, and emotions) and bhrajaka pitta (related to skin, complexion, color, skin temperature, etc.).
Interesting ways in which Gotu Kola can help with your skin and hair concerns:
Considerable research and clinical trials have shown that Gotu Kola has beneficial dermatologic effects as envisaged in Ayurveda and other scriptures.The medicinal and therapeutic properties of Gotu Kola can help enhance and improve overall health, skin, and hair. Some prominent ways in which the herb can potentially help include:
Helps with oily skin: One of the most unique qualities of Gotu Kola is the ability to offer benefits as a potential moisture regulator6. This means that the herb may act as an astringentand moisturizer simultaneously, making it ideal for people struggling with oily or combination skin. People with Pitta imbalance generally struggle with oily skin. Pitta skin, being delicate and warm temperature can get oily and inflamed. Therefore, when a person uses Gotu Kola, its relaxing properties can relax the Pitta aggravated skin and reduce excess oil production (predominantly in the T-zone).
In addition, the herb's cleansing properties may help get rid of excess oil and impurities. Herbal practitioners highlight that, unlike over-the-counter chemical-based products that can only be used during a specific time of the day, Gotu Kola can be used anytime. A paste made using Gotu Kola, amla, and hibiscus powder with rose water may help remove excess oil from the skin. Leave the paste on face for 20-30 minutes and wash it with water.
Stretch marks: A major skin concern that many people deal with is stretch marks. Even though these marks are not severe skin conditions, they may be aesthetically displeasing to some. Research suggests that the terpenoids in Gotu Kola may help limit the formation of new stretch marks and reduce the appearance of existing marks. Research conducted in 20137 and 20158 highlighted that topical application of Gotu Kola reduced the appearance of stretch marks in 6 to 12 weeks of use.
Wound healing and reduction of scars: Ayurveda mentions the wound healing properties of Gotu Kola multiple times. The same has been observed in several human and animal trials9. Traditional remedies and the latest research studies mention that the herb can help heal wounds like cuts, burns, tears caused by trauma, etc. Research10 suggests that triterpene, known as asiaticoside, plays a significant role in wound healing by promoting collagen production. Its antiseptic properties prevent further infection, and its anti-inflammatory abilities reduce swelling around the wound.
Skin tightening and anti-aging: Aging affects the mind, body, and skin. It causes skin sagging, wrinkles, fine lines, etc. Ayurveda mentions the Rasayana properties (anti-aging and rejuvenation properties) of Gotu Kola. Phytochemicals in Gotu Kola, including triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylenes, offer skin structural support, improve elasticity, and promote collagen production11. The herb's antioxidant properties may also help fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress that aggravates signs of aging. Massaging 2-3 drops of rosehip essential oil and Gotu Kola oil on the face and other target areas, may help reduce sagging skin, wrinkles, and fine lines. Similarly, as per Ayurveda, applying a facemask made using Gotu Kola, Guduchi, and ashwagandha powder with honey and rose water for 40 minutes may also help in experiencing the anti-aging benefits of the herb.
Helps get healthy and glowing skin: Ayurvedic texts mention Gotu Kola as varnya(skin lightening) agent. This property may help people struggling with dull skin due to excessive exposure to the sun, electronic device screens, hyperpigmentation, etc. The active ingredients like centelloids, flavonoids, and tannins found in Gotu Kola inhibit excess melanin production12. As per Ayurveda, regular use of Gotu Kola may potentially enhance the natural glow and complexion of the skin. Applying a mixture made using Gotu Kola oil, red sandalwood, and yashtimadhu(Liquorice or licorice)powder for 30 to 40 minutes on the face, and other hyperpigmented areas, may potentially offer a natural glow and brightness to dull and lifeless skin.
Fights hair loss and promote hair growth: Different doshas impact our hair differently. For example, an imbalanced Pitta may cause hair thinning and weakening of hair follicles due to increased heat. Vata dosha, on the other hand, can make hair brittle and cause hair to fall due to dryness, and Kapha imbalance causes hair to fall due to excess oil secretion. The antioxidant properties of Gotu Kola and its potential ability to help improve blood circulation may help stimulate hair growth and reduce hair loss.
Gotu Kola's active ingredients nourish the cells or hair follicles which further aids hair growth and reduction in hair loss. This way, the herb effectively fights hair loss triggered by Vata, Pitta, and Kapha dosha. Apply Gotu Kola oil to the scalp and gently massage to seek its potential, stimulating properties. Additionally, applying a hair mask made using Aloe vera, and Gotu Kola powder can potentially nourish the scalp and help promote hair growth.
In addition to this, eating 2-3 fresh Gotu Kola leaves a day, brewing it in tea or juice, or adding it to a salad may also help the body benefit from the potent nutrients of the herb.
Gotu Kola is a versatile herb that has the potential to offer a wide range of therapeutic and medicinal benefits. Regular intake of Gotu Kola can help improve skin quality, offer anti-aging benefits, stimulate hair growth, and rejuvenate the mind and body. With considerable research and studies backing the claims13 made by Ayurvedic scriptures, Charak Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, Gotu Kola extracts are now being added to various skin care products. Therefore, we must explore the properties of the herb and try to incorporate it into our daily routine.
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