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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Gotu Kola That Isn't

Some time back, I wrote about the gotu kola.

Since then, some kind and well-informed folks have shared with me that what I have in my pots is not really gotu kola (or centella asiatica) but something called hydrocotyle verticillata, Now, I do hope I have spelled that right! I thought I should acknowledge the input of these wonderful folks and correct my incorrect posting. And also to let these people (concerned about whether I am slowly poisoning myself) know that I appreciate their concerns about my safety.

The real gotu kola looks like this.

Yet a gotu kola by any other name works as well, and we've been eating this herb for about 2 years now. It's our family's herb of choice for staying young, energetic and mentally sharp. Everyone takes a few leaves a day and even though we don't like the taste, we like how we feel afterwards. We feel tired at the right time, sleep deeper, dream more vividly and wake up feeling refreshed. Best of all, it's been easier for me to maintain a glowing complexion and healthy hair ever since we started on this herb. It really was this complexion thing that got me hooked. I had noticed my own dull complexion during a trip to Japan... and was sad for a few days thinking "Oh gosh! Look at me! I look like the crypt keeper or the morgue attendant!"

2 months ago, an Israeli gentleman selling Dead Sea mudpacks looked at me sceptically when I assured him that I don't use anything except baby soap on my face. I should have told him about my gotu kola then, but I was somewhat miffed that he obviously thought I was lying. But then again, I was also glad because it proved that the hydrocotyle verticillata had worked very well indeed.

The Husband too is hooked because ever since we started on this regularly, his haemorrhoids (piles) have gone quite away.

And the reason why I am so sure this herb can be eaten is that in Little India, bunches of this are sold as a vegetable for making vegetable dahl. I reckon that the savvy use of Indian spices must bring out the taste of gotu kola in a way that I am unable to with a garlic stir fry.

We've begun to pace our consumption though. We take it for a week, and then stop for another, and then resume again. Having eaten the herb and feeling its effects, I am inclined to think that it is a very potent herb. I've learnt to respect herbs as powerful drugs, and I fear developing a herb dependency by overdosing myself.

I blush to confess that in the past, I have given myself constipation with an overdose of lemon juice (3 times daily for a month), a thrush infection with too much green tea (3 times daily for 2 months). I even put The Husband in hospital with comfrey tea (that was just once or twice). And I don't suppose you want to know that The Daughter developed gastric problems from an overdose of my garlic cough syrup (4 times a day for a week)?

So yes, I've learnt to respect the drugs in God's pharmacopeia in order not to do harm to myself. Hee!


Leah said...

Now I know comfrey is a potent herb. I was given a comfrey ointment recently by a friend for a bad bruise which disappeared quickly after application of the ointment.

And too much of green tea can cause thrush...this is good to know.

The vainpot in me is tempted to try the gotu kola...heehee

petunialee said...

Leah - Oh... do please try it! I saw bunches of it at my market yesterday. It isn't commonly sold because it tastes so bitter and it seems that only Indians are generally aware of its benefits for the brain. GNC sells capsules of gotu kola too but the raw one is far cheaper.

Open Kitchen Concept said...

I'm so so glad i took a bunch from you to plant at home.. hehe.. They are doing pretty well.. seem to require almost no care! :)

petunialee said...

Yup! They're relatively fuss free. Mine had a spider mite infestation that went away after 3 or 4 baths. Post on your blog your experience? I would love to know what it does for you.

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Sure! I'd start taking it when I'm back in SG... :) Hopefully the skin and hair parts work for me too! (vain...)

Leah said...

Thanks, Petunia, I will check it out at Little Mustafa?

petunialee said...

Indians know it as vallarai... Enjoy!

peterlim128 said...

I am one of GCS mates Peterlim128
I am interested in your article on
your so-called "Gotu Kola" can you post a photo of your plants.
The actual Gotu Kola also called
Asia Pennywort has clam-shaped leaves. What is the difference?


petunialee said...

Hi Peterlim128, here is the picture. Just click on the link?

I saw them at my market last week.

petunialee said...

Ooops! Try this one?

petunialee said...

I can't seem to paste the link Peter... I'll pm you.

Herry said...

Thanks for great info about Gotu Kola

Paula said...

Do you take the Gotu kola at night?