Centella asiatica, known commonly as gotu kola, is a highly regarded medicinal and culinary herb. Gotu kola is traditionally used in Chinese, Ayurvedic and African herbal medicine. Gotu kola is generally regarded as an adaptogen, meaning that it has an overall benefit to the mind and body. Gotu kola is associated with longevity. Many users seek gotu kola out for improved mental performance and clarity. Rich in antioxidants, gotu kola is regarded as a brain booster, and it has even been called a nootropic because of its association with improved memory and attention span. Aside from it’s mental attributes, gotu kola has gained a reputation for charging the circulatory system, reducing inflammation, soothing the nervous system and helping alleviate certain skin conditions. It has even been used by herbalists to treat leprosy. Additionally, gotu kola is reported to have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Gotu kola has also been given to those suffering from opiate withdrawal to ease their nerves.
As a culinary herb, gotu kola is often incorporated into various curry dishes in and surrounding areas of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Thailand and Vietnam. Other than that, gotu kola is used as a salad green in a variety of ways. Gotu kola is also known in these areas as an ingredient in several healthy and refreshing drinks such as Bai Bua Bok. By incorporating fresh gotu kola leaves into dishes like these it makes it easy for users to simultaneously benefit from gotu kola as an herb and a food.
Growing Information: Gotu kola is actually somewhat difficult to start from seed as it has retained it’s wild habits. These habits prevent overzealous germination, so that if unfavorable conditions were to arise after germination, an entire year’s crop would not be lost. This survival mechanism is seen in many seed species to varying degrees, and gotu kola happens to be one of the more reluctant ones to sprout. Gotu Kola seeds often can remain dormant for months until the proper temperature patterns trigger germination. Even then, it tends to be erratic. Use a soil with excellent drainage. Standard potting soil will not work, and this can vastly effect the outcome of success. Press the seed lightly into the surface of your soil and wait. The seeds are best off sowed in the fall or early spring where they can experience normal temperature fluctuations. Otherwise, they should be cold stratified for 4 weeks prior to sowing outdoors. Once established, the plant is easy to care for in most cases. It likes damp, moist environments with good sun. But it will also tolerate shade.
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