“Gotu kola is an herb in the carrot family and is related to parsley, cilantro, and fennel,” says Bill Rawls, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer of Vital Plan. “Its leaves are small, round and edible. It likes to grow in moist areas and requires a long, warm growing season.” That’s why you’ll likely find gotu kola growing in Australia, the South Pacific, Southeast Asia, India, South Africa and South America – although Dr Rawls notes that it has been found growing along the coast of South Carolina in wet areas.
The main benefits of gotu kola
“Gotu Kola has been used for infections, digestive issues, wound healing and other conditions for centuries, but in recent years, Gotu Kola has been called the ‘longevity herb’ because research has linked it to improved cognitive function, specifically when it comes to learning and memory,” says functional medicine physician Mahmud Kara, MD, founder of KaraMD. “In addition, some studies suggest that gotu kola may help protect nerve and brain cells from the development of plaques, which are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and other related cognitive disorders.”
Another important way that gotu kola benefits your health, according to Dr. Kara, is that it can help reduce stress. “The influx of hormones and the changes your body undergoes during prolonged periods of stress can have a significant impact on your health over time. Chronic health issues and illnesses are the biggest factors when it comes to shortening your life expectancy or longevity – and chronic stress, if left unchecked, can increase your risk of developing chronic health problems. So any method to reduce stress like gotu kola is important when it comes to targeting your short-term and long-term health,” says Dr.
“Gotu Kola has been used for infections, digestive issues, wound healing and other conditions for centuries, but in recent years, Gotu Kola has been called the ‘longevity herb’ because research has linked it to improved cognitive function. “
—Mahmud Kara, MD, physician of functional medicine
What does gotu kola taste like?
While some say it’s bitter, many others say that gotu kola doesn’t have much of a taste or smell. That said, according to the experts we spoke with, you may need to take a therapeutic dose of the herb in standardized extract form — read: in a capsule — to get the medicinal effects. “It would be difficult to reach that level with food,” says Dr. Kara.
“If you are looking for therapeutic effects, especially brain-boosting health benefits, gotu kola also needs to be taken daily over a long period of time,” says Dr. He underlines the importance of purchasing standardized extracts that have also been tested for heavy metals and other pollutants — and speaking with a healthcare professional before trying any new supplement.
“If you are looking for therapeutic effects, especially brain-boosting health benefits, gotu kola also needs to be taken daily over a long period of time.”
—Bill Rawls, M.D.
That said, Dr. Rawls goes on to note that gotu kola is a relatively safe herb that can be taken for long periods of time with minimal risk. “Again, I would start by talking to your doctor. From there, follow the instructions on the packaging of the product you purchased. For capsules, 250 mg to 500 mg two or three times a day is the standard dose. If it’s a tincture, try about 40 to 60 drops three times a day. Also, keep in mind that gotu kola is typically not taken as a standalone supplement – it’s typically combined with other herbs such as turmeric, reishi, and rhodiola to provide synergistic whole-body benefits,” says Dr.
If you’re not ready for a supplement, there are other ways to incorporate gotu kola into your diet. While the most effective way to incorporate the herb into your routine is through dietary supplements, it can also be added to dishes such as salads, soups or stir-fries. In fact, when consumed, the herb is known to have a number of valuable nutritional properties, including essential minerals, carotenoids and vitamin C.
“Take a handful of gotu kola leaves and a handful of kale, add olive oil and garlic, and sauté them before sprinkling with sea salt and black pepper to taste,” says Dr.
If you don’t have access to fresh leaves, consider adding powder to a smoothie. Dr. Rawls recommends the recipe below:
Creamy Strawberry and Raw Cocoa Smoothie Recipe
1 cup nut milk (your choice)
1 tablespoon nut butter (your preference)
1 cup of strawberries
1/2 of banana
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
1 teaspoon powdered cola powder
1. Blend in a high-powered blender and enjoy.
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