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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Gotu Kola

I have 4 pots of gotu kola and one clump that sticks busily out of my pond. Our family eats this herb everyday. All adults and adult-sized kids get 8 leaves (with stems) and the kid-sized kid gets 4 leaves. We microwave the leaves in a bit of water at the bottom of our mugs. Then we chew the bitter leaves and swallow. The taste is absolutely revolting. The first time we had it, I wondered if it was poisonous.

But it isn't. It's really terribly good for health. I first came across this herb in a herb encyclopedia, describing clinical trials in the USA on retarded children, and how extracts helped these children concentrate better on cognitive tasks. I searched for pictures but was unable to match anything in the nurseries to the images I downloaded from the internet. My search took me into various chinese pharmacies wherein I gesticulated and tried my best to explain this herb, its uses, its latin name and its supposed chinese name. But to no avail. Then, I came across its Malay name, which lead me to its Indian name - vallarai. So off to Little India I traipsed, The Husband in tow. I found the herb in generous bunches of $2, but no roots. I bought the bunches, fried them in garlic and no one ate any. It was the most awful tasting green mass I had ever cooked. But, it's really good for health.

Then one day, The Husband chanced upon little pots of it at a plant nursery, and like the good Husband he is, he bought them for his wife, who was so remarkably grateful that she was nice to him for the rest of the day. And it was then, that it began - my gotu kola cultivation. 3 little pots were put into one big pot where they soon multiplied. I transplanted a minuscule bunch and that grew to fill another big pot, and yet another and another.

The therapeutic effects of this herb are quite amazing. The herb builds connective tissue. It speeds up cell rejuvenation in blood vessels, in the brain, in the skin... basically, anything that is human meat, benefits from the effects of gotu kola. After the first week, both The Husband and I began to have very vivid dreams. After two weeks, my morning arthritis in the fingers disappeared. My complexion has become brighter because skin cell rejuvenation has improved. Hair growth is sped up. My teenager daughter shared that she feels less sluggish and more alert when studying.

It certainly tastes like poison, but we love it still the same.


thePHYSICSpeople said...

just a suggestion.. you might want to post pictures maybe?

Ivana said...

You make me laugh my dear, especially when you said that it benefits 'human meat'! Hee hee... and your husband what a gem! I certainly would not have brought them home knowing how lovely they taste!

I must tell my parents though... Good for cancer survivors I guess?

Chawanmushi said...

Hi Petunia
Thanks for sharing this piece. I'm really a noob at using herbs to improve health conditions.Really looking forward to read more of such culinary adventure from you.

Bren said...

Hi Petunia,
i think the plant u r showing is marsh pennywort (hydrocotyle verticillata) cos the leave are totally rounded..its growth behaviour is similar to gotu kola (hydrocotyle asiatica or centilla asiatica)... but gotu kola leaves should not form a full circle, it looks more like a horse hoof, (another common name for the plant) google both plants and u can see the diff... i am not sure about the medicinal properties of marsh pennywort... just a comment fr a concerned reader... dont wan you to be eating the wrong plant... no offence... enjoyed yr aticles btw.


petunialee said...

Gee Bren... thanks for caring!! I am quite sure mine is edible because it was being sold as a vegetable. I've been eating it for a year and it has the same effects as the horse hoof one. So no worries!

Neil said...

Hi Petunia, the picture is definitely not gotu kola. i have eaten it raw in indonesia. brought some seedlings back but they died due to lack of care.

the taste of it is very plesant. just joined gcs forum. see u around.

my regards, neil

abbkoh said...

Hi Petunia, read with interest yr article about this remarkable Gotu Kola plant. You wrote about this herb in 2008, and now early 2 years later, what's your opinion about this herb? I am thinking of getting some too! Thanks for yr advice. Regards.

petunialee said...

abbkoh - I still eat gotu kola 2 weeks out of a month.

You can't make goldenseal tincture... Generally, people don't grow goldenseal at home because it takes too long to harvest. You can bring them back when you travel?

Speedlight said...

Hi Petunia,

I chanced upon your blog when I searched for information about this plant. Not sure if you are the right person to ask, but this is relating to the plant gardening.

We have just bought 2 pots last week, the same as picture in this blog. It's in pot without drainage, under full morning sun, and I have been watering it daily. Since it's water plant, I figured it would be ok even abit flooded. However, I noticed this morning some of the leaves turned dull brown and flaky to the touch. Would you have any idea what's wrong?

petunialee said...

Speedlight - Aquatic plants need circulating water around the roots, not stagnant water... so if your pot is small and has no drainage it won't be good.

Maybe you can transfer it into a fish pond or repot it in clayey soil but in a pot with drainage holes.

I really dunno what is wrong because it's hard to diagnose a plant's health from words on a page. You could register as a member on GCS and upload photos so that gardeners there can view and help.

edith said...

I saw this plant before and didn't know it has medical benefit. Is this planted in the pot?

petunialee said...

Edith - Yup... mine are in pots.

Anonymous said...

May i know where can i get this plant? Thanks!

Petunia Lee said...

Oratik - They sell it at plant nurseries in Singapore. They grow wild at the side of the water obstacles in Singaporean golf courses... and in the nature reserves. Just pick and root.