Pennywort is a leafy herb plant that is profoundly used in Indonesian, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicine preparations. The scientific name of this herbal plant is ‘Centella Asiatica,’ It is called ‘Bai Bua Bok’ in Thai.
Other known names of this plant are Jal Brahmi (In Ayurveda), Ji Xue Sao (In Chinese), Spadeleaf, Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort, Marsh Penny, and Hydrocotyle. But it is popularly known as ‘Gotu Kola.’
Let’s into the health benefits of pennywort.
This herbal leaf plant is traditionally used in most Asian recipes. Gotu kola is native to tropical lands of Southeast Asia, where it is mostly consumed as tea, juice, or added to salads and smoothies.
Pennywort is also known as ‘Snow Accumulating Herb, ’ which means a herb that stores snow. The leaves of this plant look like overlapping coins.
Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine practitioners claim that Gotu kola has antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and anti-depressant properties.
The leaves of plants have been used in Ayurvedic medicine formulations to boost memory power, heal skin diseases, promote cardiovascular and brain health. Some of the scientific studies have proved it, though.
Gotu Kola is mainly available as supplements capsules, powder, topical medicines, and tinctures.
Let’s look into the health benefits, nutritional facts, chemical constituents, preparations, and usage of Gotu Kola or Pennywort.
Common Names of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
- Botanical Name: Centella Asiatica
- English Name: Pennywort
- Sri Lankan Singhalese Name: ගොටු කල/Gotu Kola
- Tamil Name: வல்லாரை கீரை / Vallarai Keerai
- Malayalam Name: പെന്നിവോർട്ട് പൊടി വിടുന്നു / codagen, kutakan, kutannai, kutannal, muttil
- Telugu Name: పెన్నీవోర్ట్ పౌడర్ ఆకులు / babassa, bekaparnamu, bokkudu, mandooka brahmi
- Kannada Name: ಒಂದೆಲಗ/Ondelaga
- Hindi Name: पेनीवोर्ट लीव्स पाउडर / bemgsag, brahmamanduki, brahmi, brahmi buti, brahmi-buti
- Marathi Name: करावं/Karivan, कारवान /Karivana
- Gujarathi Name: ખાંડ બ્રાહ્મી/Khanda Brahmi
- Punjabi Name: ਬ੍ਰਹਮੀ ਬੂਟੀ/Brahamī būṭī
- Bengali Name: থুলকুড়ি/Thulkudi
- Urdu Name: برہمی بوٹی/Brahmi Herb
History of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
Our ancestors have identified the various nutritional and health benefits of pennywort for treating many diseases many decades ago. Pennywort is used as a herb in Ayurvedic medicine, particularly in traditional Chinese and Indian medicine practices.
Pennywort is a perennial herbal plant that can be found in moist areas. The plants grow profoundly in India, Sri Lanka, and North Australia. As it is native to South Asia, you can see this plant all around Asia.
For centuries, pennywort has been discussed with Asian legends like Li Ching-Yun, a Tai Chi Chuan Master who lived for 256 years as he consumed supplements of herbs where pennywort is also included. In Chinese medicine, they describe pennywort as “Source of Life” as it provides a long time.
Another study shows that a legend from Sri Lanka called King Aruna in the 10th century had also used Pennywort. He believed that the herb provides stamina and energy that he needed in the harem.
There is also a saying in English Speaking Regions that “Two Leaves of Pennywort a Day Keeps Your Old Age Away.”
Though there is no scientific proof for the longevity property of pennywort in humans, it is still believed as the most potent herb to improve memory power and prevent diseases.
17 Health Benefits of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
Based on Oriental medicine, Pennywort has a mixture of bitter and sweet tastes. The herb is helpful in nurturing the liver and spleen, detoxifying, and the natural cooling effect of pennywort helps calm down our body.
Pennywort is traditionally consumed as a healthy drink, or tonic and antiseptic medicine for diarrhea, blood vomiting, dysentery, scars, and rashes.
Pennywort has various essential elements such as
- Vitamin B1, B2, B3, C, and K
- Beta Carotene
In addition to these nutrients, the plant also contains the below constituents.
- Free Amino Acid Saponin
The above four components are commonly used in cosmetics that reduce wrinkles stemming in the skin after pregnancy or after losing weight and reduce inflammation in fat tissue.
Indian Journal of Pharmacology claimed that finely ground pennywort leaves could be applied to skin ulcers and wounds to provide effective results. The pains created by sclerosis can be reduced or soothe by chewing pennywort leaves.
From the 1940s, our medical system has been studying the benefits of pennywort. Pennywort has active Saponine levels called Tripernoids, which include Asiatic acid, Asisticoside, madecassic acid, and madecassoside.
1. Boosts Cognitive Function
In 2016, a study was conducted to compare Gotu kola and folic acid’s effect in boosting cognitive function in patients who recovered from a stroke. This minor study subjected three groups of people. The first group consumed 1000 mg of Gotu kola per day, the second group took 3 mg of folic acid per day, and the third group again consumed 750 mg of Gotu kola per day.
Folic acid and Gotu kola both indeed do wonders in treating cognitive functions. But, the study shows that Gotu kola was very effective than folic acid in boosting memory power.
In another animal study, Gotu kola water extract was given to young and old mice to show the cognitive improving effects of Gotu Kola. Old and young mice showed noticeable improvement in memory and learning, but there was more effective in older mice.
Consumption: Take 750 to 1000 mg of Gotu kola at a time in a day for two weeks (14 days).
2. Treats Alzheimer’s Disease
Gotu kola can effectively improve memory and enhance nerve functions. These characteristics of Gotu kola make it a potential medicine for treating Alzheimer’s Disease.
A small study in 2012 on mice with Alzheimer’s Disease showed that Gotu kola water extract possessed a significant effect on behavioral abnormalities.
The plant extract was also tested in the lab and other animal studies to claim its effect on preventing toxic damages in brain cells. The herb prevents cells from creating plaque, which is related to Alzheimer’s Disease.
However, there is insufficient research to determine how exactly got kola can be added to the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease. If you planned to add it to your treatment, consult with your doctor first.
Consumption: Take 30 to 60 drops of Gotu kola water extract three times a day. Always check the dosage mentioned in the bottle as it may vary between different companies.
3. Reduces Anxiety & Stress
Pennywort contains Triterpenoids that help reduce anxiety and improve mental health. In 2000, the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology published research claiming that those who take pennywort showed a significant reduction in their panic disorders.
Gotu kola can lower acute and chronic stress. It imposes calmness and alertness into our mind and body by 100%. There are many scientific research and lab studies that showed Gotu kola could be used to treat anxiety symptoms as it can reduce the reactions of the acoustic startle reflex, which is considered the main sign that a person is in heavy mental stress.
In 2016, an animal study was performed to witness the anti-anxiety ability of Gotu kola in male mice that had undergone sleep deprivation for three days (72 hours). Sleep deprivation is one of the primary reasons for anxiety, neuroinflammation, and oxidative damage.
The subjects were consumed Gotu kola continuously for five days before they went to sleep deprivation. The result shows a significant reduction in abnormal anxiety behaviors. The mice showed improvement in oxidative damage and their locomotor activity.
In 2013, researchers reviewed various anti-anxiety medicines and herbs like Gotu kola and concluded the herb has active anti-anxiety properties.
Consumption: Take 50 mg of Gotu kola extract two times a day as a single dosage for two weeks (14 days). In the case of extreme anxiety, it is advised to take up to 2000 mg per day.
4. Acts as an Antidepressant
Depression is another mental disorder that can be treated with Gotu kola. Gotu kola can positively affect our brains, making them function properly; thus, it is a great antidepressant.
In 2016, a review of Gotu kola’s antidepressant ability was tested with 33 people who had anxiety disorders. The subjected people were directed to take got kola as a part of their treatment diet and plan for two months (60 days). All those ingested got kola reported decreased anxiety, stress, and depression.
In an animal study, rats induced with chronic stress and depression were given Gotu kola showed a positive effect on their depression and stress behaviors in addition to heart rate, body temperature, and weight.
Consumption: Take 500 mg of Gotu kola as a single dose twice a day for two weeks.
5. Improves Circulation & Reduce Swelling
Few reviews were given evidence for proving the ability of Gotu kola to improve blood circulation in patients with CVI (Chronic Venous Insufficiency). CVI is a condition that presents when the valves or walls in our leg veins are not healthy and causes difficulties in circulating blood to the heart.
The chemical compound called Triterpenes is linked to chronic insufficiency effects of Gotu Kola. Triterpenes in pennywort induce cardiac glycosides (organic compounds) production that increases heart force and contraction rate. A study in Malaysia in 2013 has proved it also.
In 2001, the research found that Gotu kola effectively reduces fluid retention problems, circulation, and ankle swelling caused after taking flight for more than three hours.
People who have low to medium rate venous disease in varicose veins were directed to add Gotu kola in their daily routine for two days before the flight, on flight day, and a day after the flight. They found relatively less fluid retention and ankle swelling that skipped Gotu kola.
Pennywort can improve microcirculation in veins and arteries, protect arteries’ inner armor and improve the elasticity of veins. With this ability, pennywort is often used to treat arteries’ hypertension in lower limbs.
Many lab studies and research have shown that Gotu kola can be highly helpful in treating varicose veins. The reason is, Gotu kola on the connective tissue of the vascular wall can impose positive metabolic effects.
Consumption: Take 60 to 100 mg of Gotu kola extract thrice a day for seven days before and after the flight. You can make a cream by adding 1% Gotu kola extract with other herbs to apply to the affected area to get rid of swelling.
6. Helps Ease Insomnia
Good quality sleep is essential for brain health. Lack of sleep can result in memory loss, mental illness, affect concentration, and attention. So, sleep disorders like insomnia have to be taken seriously and treated immediately.
Insomnia is generally caused by stress, anxiety, and depression. Some people take sleeping pills and chemical remedies, though it offers a quick result, it is not good for their health because regular sleeping pills can affect memory power.
Proven its effective work against anxiety, depression, and stress, Gotu kola is a natural remedy that is safe to use and improves sleep. In Thai medicine, this herb is traditionally ingested for centuries as a tea with honey to produce a calming effect, thus improving sleep.
Even a few research claims that Gotu kola helps treat sleep disorders.
Consumption: Take 300 to 680 mg of Gotu kola extract thrice a day for two weeks as a single dose.
7. Reduces Signs of Stretch Marks
In a 2013 review, Gotu kola claimed to minimize signs of stretch marks.
The chemical compound called Terpenoids in Gotu kola increase the production of collagen in the body. This action heals scar and stretch marks and also prevents skin from forming new stretch marks.
Consumption: Use a topical cream that includes 1% Gotu kola extract. Apply it to affected areas several times a day for better results.
8. Promotes Wound Healing & Minimize Scars
Herbal medicine practitioners have used Gotu kola ointments and poultices for a long time to heal wounds. A set of lab studies and medical records showed that the Gotu kola extract could regenerate connective tissues to generate new skin and stimulate biological processes in cell division to heal wounds rapidly.
Pennywort stimulates scar healing by producing Type 1 Collagen. The chemical content called Triterpene or Asiaticoside in Gotu kola is responsible for generating collagen. The herb also showed a significant reduction in the generation of fibroblasts and inflammation.
Research in 2015 on rats demonstrated that dressing including got kola used on wounds showed significant healing effects on various wounds like cuts due to sharp edges, infected tissue, and blunt force trauma caused tears.
Consumption: Apply an ointment that contains 1% Gotu kola extract on wounds several times a day.
9. Helps Relieve Joint Pain/Arthritis
Gotu kola has rich anti-inflammatory properties that may help cure Arthritis.
In 2003, Sydney, a documentary was broadcasted that showed many Australian Arthritis patients were cured by having two pennywort leaves a day.
Mr. Russ Maslen, an Arthritis and Paradoxical Pennywort author, helped his wife Beryl to get out of arthritis in her hand joints completely. In his book, he shared that he got to know the benefits of pennywort for arthritis in 1989 by a farmer in Brunswick Valley when he was involved in constructing and administrating the natural reserve park.
An animal study in 2014 proved that Gotu kola contains outstanding anti-inflammatory properties and is capable of rheumatoid arthritis. Consuming Gotu kola decreases inflammation in joints, erosion in bone, and cartilage. The study also revealed that Gotu kola improves the overall well-being in rats induced with collagen arthritis.
Consumption: Take 300 to 680 mg Gotu kola extract thrice a day as a single dose for two weeks.
10. Contains Detox Effects
Recent studies are working on Gotu kola’s effect on toxicity in the kidney and liver.
An animal study in 2017 demonstrated that Gotu kola is capable of reducing the toxin side effects of antibiotic isoniazid.
The rats were ingested 100 mg Gotu kola for a month, and after that, an antibiotic was given to them. After a study period, the rats showed fewer toxicity levels. The rats with liver and kidney toxicity experienced reduced or normalized toxin levels after intaking Gotu kola.
Consumption: Take 30 to 60 mg Gotu kola water extract thrice a day as a single dose for two weeks.
Drink Pennywort powder mixed with fresh milk twice a day every morning and afternoon for three days once the menstruation is completed. The drink also treats dysmenorrheal. The cleansing properties of pennywort benefit women with smooth skin, youthful look, proper blood circulation, and prevent diseases.
11. Boosts Mood & Memory
In traditional medicine, Gotu kola has been used as a natural tonic and antidote to enhance memory and treat mood swings or disorders.
In 2017, a review study published in Scientific Reports showed that Gotu kola can improve memory. It also included that consumption of Gotu kola relieves anxiety and alertness with an hour.
Based on many studies and research, Gotu kola is possible to affect memory and cognition indirectly. Relief from anxiety and mental fatigue and more alertness undoubtedly improve the working memory of a person.
Scientifically, a person with calmness and reduced anxiety experience better memory power, information processing, focusing, and concentration.
Gotu kola regulates neurotransmitters activity that is also known as GABA (Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid) to reduce anxiety and mental fatigue. Asiatic acid in Gotu kola is the triggering compound of this effect.
Asiatic acid also provides relief from anxiety without causing, unlike sedative effects that GABA does against drugs.
12. Disease Prevention
Because of a few unapproved claims and exaggerated that say Gotu kola can treat all the diseases from mental illness to cancer, the actual value and benefits of Gotu kola in treating disease have been shrouded.
Gotu kola has anti-oxidant properties that neutralize the free radicals produced by pollution, unhealthy diet, and poor metabolism and cause cell damage. There are theories on the anti-oxidant property of Gotu kola that said that this herb might prevent stomach ulcers and a few types of cancer.
Jadavpur University, India, has studied this effect and reported that the effectiveness of Gotu kola in stomach ulcer treatment is higher than H2 blocker Pepcid treatment.
Likewise, in test tube studies, Asiatic acid in Gotu kola showed its ability to induce natural cell death (apoptosis) in specific cancer types like breast cancer.
13. Improves Central Nervous System
Gotu kola is recommended for reducing mental stress, improving memory power in the elderly, and boosting concentration. Asiaticoside in Gotu kola protects the neural cells from beta-amyloid toxicity and shows effective recovery in Alzheimer’s patients.
The herb can relax the mind and aid several nervous disorders like stroke, senility, ADD, and epilepsy.
14. Used in Cosmetics
Pennywort is cold and full of nutritious that is useful in beauty care also. The herb juice is a natural moisturizer for the skin, slowing down aging, removing scars, and stretch marks. It is also suitable for acne.
15. Immune System
Gotu kola protects our immune system from toxins. A few illnesses that Gotu kola can treat incredibly are high blood pressure, heart failure, urinary tract infection, and venereal diseases.
16. For Brain Health
Gotu kola effectively increases the development of new brain cells. It stimulates the BDNF (Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor) to release, a protein that has essential play in neurogenesis. BDNF improves and strengthens existing brain cells and improves the growth of new brain cells. The herb boost plasticity in the brain enhances the branching of dendrite and improves brain cell communication.
Our brain cells are often affected by neurotoxins such as arsenic, aluminum, lead, and monosodium glutamate, which are the reason for mood disorders, mental fatigue, migraines, and brain fog. The anti-oxidant property of Gotu kola reduces the effect of these neurotoxins. The hern neutralizes the toxins and protects our brain cells from damage.
The antibiotic property of Gotu kola speeds up wound healing. It further improves blood flow and strengthens veins and capillaries.
It effectively reduces fever and dysentery in children.
17. Boosts Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that promotes healthy brain functions and improves heart health. Vitamin E and C are combined to prevent cognitive decline due to aging. It also improves memory, cognitive functions, and effectively reduces the risk of Alzheimer’s and dementia diseases.
Vitamin E supplements with Gotu kola is an incredible anti-oxidant and supplement for brain health.
Nutritional Facts of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
Southeast Asia is native to Gotu Kola, where it is widely used in food as much as it is used for medicinal formulations. Gotu kola is a member of the Parsley family that sometimes people confused between parsley and Gotu kola. Gotu kola has provided excellent health benefits because of the source of minerals and vitamins it contains.
In one of the International Food Research Journal reviews, they tested and found below nutrients and healthy components in 100 grams of Gotu kola that follow the RDI (Recommended Dietary Intake) needs.
|Vitamin A||442 micrograms||49%|
|Vitamin C||48.5 milligrams||81%|
|Vitamin B2||0.19 milligrams||9%|
Gotu kola also contains dietary fiber, providing 5% of the RDI for men and 8% of the RDI for women.
Phytochemical Constituents of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
Gotu kola/Pennywort contains:
- Centellasaponins A, B, C, and D
- Madecassoside (Brahminoside)
- Sceffoleoside A
- Asiatic Acid
- Madecassic Acid (Brahmic acid)
- Isothankunic Acid
- Germacrene B/D
How to Select, Prepare, and Store Gotu Kola
Gotu kola is used as a key ingredient in most Indian, Malaysian, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Thai dishes.
It has a little bitter and sweet taste and a grass scent.
In Sri Lanka, they use Gotu kola as one of their regional dishes called Gotu Kola Sambol which uses shredded fresh Gotu kola leaves with lime juice, grated coconut, chili, and shallots.
- Gotu kola leaves are also used in Asian cuisine.
- In India the fresh leaves are added to curries.
- In Malaysia, it is added in salad and called Pegaga.
- In Vietnam, the fresh leaves are added in vegetable rolls and in a beverage called Nuoc Rau Ma which is prepared by juicing fresh leaves of Gotu kola and mixing with water and sugar.
Fresh Gotu Kola
If you are from the USA, it is hard to find fresh Gotu kola. When you went for purchase, look for and buy a lily pad or coin-shaped leaves with bright green color without discoloration and blemishes. The stems of pennywort are edible as cilantro.
Don’t put the fresh Gotu kola in a refrigerator with a high cooling level. Because the plant is temperature-sensitive, it will turn to black colors if it is exposed to too much cold. If you will not use the leaves often, put them in glass water, cover them using a plastic bag, and then keep it in the refrigerator. You can keep the fresh Gotu kola for a week in this storing method.
The chopped and juiced Gotu kola should be consumed as soon as possible because it rapidly oxidizes.
Gotu Kola as Supplements
You can buy Gotu kola supplements in most of the health food stores and herbal medicine stores. Gotu kola can be used as a capsule, Churanam (powder), liquid form (like tea, smoothie), and tincture.
Healthy Drinks Using Pennywort
Here we have given preparation steps and required ingredients to make a hot and a cool drink using Pennywort Leaves (Gotu Kola). These are completely easy, quick, and healthy drinks to make and have.
Gotu Kola/Pennywort Juice
- Fresh Gotu Kola Leaves – 30 to 40 grams
- The required amount of water
- Sugar to Taste
- Take fresh Gotu kola leaves and wash them.
- Grind the leaves, adding little water.
- Squeeze the extract from the mixture.
- Add sugar as per your taste.
Note: In this way, a person can consume 30 to 40 grams of fresh Gotu kola in a day.
Gotu Kola/Pennywort Tea
- Gotu Kola – 200 grams
- Dried Adenosma cordifolium – 100 grams
- Ming aralia leaves – 200 grams
- Licorice – 100 grams
- Mix Gotu kola, Dried Adenosma cordifolium, Ming aralia leaves, and Licorice.
- All these herbs should be dried.
- Roast the ingredients and grind to a powder.
- Store it in a jar to prevent moisture.
- Put 30 to 40 grams of this herb mixture powder in boiling water, left it for 10 minutes, and drink it.
Tip: This herbal drink or tea helps cool our body.
Treatments (Home Remedies) Using Gotu Kola
Below is the natural medicine preparation for a few illnesses and health conditions.
For Heat Rashes
- Take 50 grams of Pennywort leaves.
- Squeeze the extract.
- Add a bit of sugar or salt as per your taste to drink it easily.
- Take 40 grams of Pennywort leaves and 40 grams of bamboo leaves.
- Grind both herbs, adding a pinch of salt to taste.
- Strain and drink it.
- Take 30 grams of Pennywort leaves.
- Grind the leaves, adding cooled boiled water.
- Squeeze out the extract.
- Mix the fluid with 10 grams of cassava starch, a pinch of sugar, and drink.
- Take 50 grams of Pennywort leaves and 50 grams of bitter gourd leaves.
- Grind the fresh leaves, adding a pinch of salt to paste.
- Apply it on affected areas and cover it with gauze wrap.
- Change it two times a day until acne completely vanishes.
- Take 16 grams of Pennywort leaves, 12 grams of Bamboo leaves, 12 grams of Snake jasmine, 16 grams of Great morinda, 12 grams of Prickly chaff flower, 12 grams of Cogon grassroots, and 12 Mulberry leaves.
- Grind all the leaves, adding water.
- Squeeze out the extract and drink it as tea regularly.
For Sore Throat and Cough
- Take fresh Pennywort leaves.
- Wash and pound the leaves, adding water.
- Squeeze out the dense extract.
- Mix the extract with milt and sugar.
- Give two times a day for children, with a half bowl each time.
- For adults, full bowl each time as a dose two times a day.
- Continue for 5 to 7 days.
Dosage of Pennywort (Gotu Kola)
Pennywort or Gotu Kola is an herbal plant, so it needs to be used with caution.
A regular well-being person can take 40 grams of Pennywort on average in a day. Leave half a month of gab between each dose.
Diabetic patients, diseased liver patients, those who have a history of chronic dermatologic injuries, cancer patients, people who have to take any other drugs, and pregnant women should avoid Pennywort. If you are interested in adding this herb to your diet, start consuming it only after consulting your doctor.
When making recipes with pennywort, make sure you washed the leaves carefully.
The United States and European medical academies voiced their research over Peenywort and reported that Pennywort was safe when taken in the proper dose. Still, the patients should not take it for more than six weeks without a doctor’s prescription. People who have liver disease, dermatologic injuries should avoid pennywort.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
Pennywort is a healthy herb, but it can cause dizziness, headache, and upset stomach when you take it in a high dose. So, always start with a low dose and gradually increase the dosage by consulting a doctor to avoid side effects.
From two to a maximum of six weeks is the safe period to consume Gotu kola. Don’t drink it for a minimum of two weeks after each dose.
When used as a topical medicine, carelessly processed, Gotu kola can cause skin irritation. So, always do a patch test before using it directly on the affected area.
Don’t Consume Gotu Kola if you:
- are pregnant
- are under 18 years
- are breastfeeding
- have recovered from liver disease
- have recovered from skin cancer
- have undergone surgery recently or schedules it within next weeks
Gotu kola has a calming effect, which may amplify when used with alcohol. Don’t take Gotu kola with Ambien (zolpidem), Donnatal (phenobarbital), Klonopin (clonazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam), or other sedatives otherwise it will cause extreme drowsiness.