Sometimes called “food for the brain,” gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a slender, creeping plant that is easy to grow in a hanging basket in a sunny window. It also tolerates low light levels and handles water so well that it can be grown in a terrarium or aquarium.
In Ayurveda, gotu kola is used to revitalize the brain and nerve cells and as a tonic to purify blood and promote healthy skin. Like neem, new research is validating many of those traditional uses. Research has focused on enhancing brain activity, both improving mood and memory in a clinical trial with human patients. Other studies indicate that it facilitates the repair of burned skin and reduced arthritis pain in mice probably by regulating humoral and cellular immunity.*
Gotu kola is slightly bitter but tasty enough to eat straight off the vine or in a salad. We try and keep them growing in doorways where it’s easy to pick a few leaves as we pass by.
They tolerate low temperatures far better than the other Ayurvedic plants we grow — in fact, we don’t even move the gotu kola into the heated part of the greenhouse during the winter. They’ll slow down in the summer though, unless they’re shaded for the hottest parts of the day.
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* These statements are educational only.They are based upon clinical reports published in the National Institutes of Health database, but have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Neem Tree Farms does not sell products which are intended to diagnose, prevent, control or treat any disease, or kills or repels any pests, except as allowed by the NimBioSys registration when used on only on plants.