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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Gotu Kola

I purchased this Gotu Kola plant to see how well it would do in the hill country. It is a beautiful plant with smooth, scalloped edged, medium colored green leaves shaped like miniature lily pads. I've noticed it likes to be well watered and does well in dappled sunlight. If planted in the ground, it would grow low to the ground and act like a ground cover. Since I'm afraid of it freezing, I'm keeping it in a pot.
The leaves can be harvested and eaten fresh, infused to make tea, and infused in oils to make body products. It is considered "brain food" and people in India and China have relied on it for centuries, eating one or two of the leaves daily for longevity and memory enhancement. It is a common herb in traditional Chinese medicine as well as ayurveda. It is also good when applied topically on wounds or irritated skin.

I often get approached for lotions that help sooth irritated skin. I plan on infusing the leaves in oil to make into lotions and salves to explore the topical benefits of this herb.

Most of the herbs I grow are used to explore their beneficial properties topically, rather than internally. Skin is our largest organ and it just makes sense to use pure, toxin free and ethically grown plants to keep it nourished and healthy. Our skin "breathes" and absorbs much of what we put on it so I'm always looking for nutritive plants that I can process into body care products. I'm excited to explore this particular plant since it has a long history of being used for wound healing, skin diseases, and lesions.

If someone is interested in ingesting this plant, it is important to point out that it is a mild sedative and should not be used by pregnant women or those taking antidepressants (Garrett 2001). Before exploring any new herb internally, I would consult an herbalist so they can individualize their recommendations to you. It's always good to consult an herbal practitioner so they may weigh all of your supplements and medications to determine if there are contraindications, etc.

I'll keep you posted on the progress of my Gotu Kola salves and lotions. Gotu go for now! There are 13 hibiscus plants needing to be upgraded into larger pots calling my name. I'm going to take Briar out there with me; he just loves eating hibiscus flowers.

Garrett, Howard. Herbs for Texas 2001.

1 comment:

Hill Country Herbalist said...

August 2011 Update:
The Gotu Kola plant loves this heat! It has gone into flower in and out this summer...producing tiny tiny little white flowers towards the base of the plant. They are shy little flowers but definately beautiful when looked upon up close. It's no wonder this plant thrives in India - it seems to just love this Texas heat sans rain. We have been over 100 degrees for months now and it just continues to thrive with a bit of daily watering. I simply love this pant.