Are your thirties slowly unearthing wrinkles and fine lines on your face? Treat them with Ayurveda’s ancient skin secret, gotu kola, for a complete skin transformation.
Nature’s own botox therapy, Centella asiatica, better known as gotu kola, has brought about a revolution in the skincare industry owing to its myriad skin benefits. From improving skin elasticity, and healing wounds to treating acne, gotu kola does it all.
Read on to know its various benefits, the correct dose and the best ways to include it in your skin routine.
Our Ayurvedic Doctor Speaks
“Gotu kola-Mandukaparni is a rasayana - vayasthapana drug. It delays physical and mental aging. Centella asiatica improves skin complexion and smoothness. It detoxifies the skin and also purifies the blood to promote skin health.”
Dr. Zeel Gandhi (Bachelor Of Ayurveda, Medicine & Surgery), Chief Ayurvedic Doctor, Vedix
What Is Gotu Kola?
Gotu Kola is a therapeutic herb belonging to the Apiaceae plant family. It is a common culinary ingredient for salads and other dishes in the Burmese, Sri Lankan, Malay, Bangladeshi, Indian and other Asian cuisines. In fact, ‘Thankuni patar bora’, fritters made with gotu kola, are a delicacy in Bengali cuisine.
1. Ayurvedic View Of Gotu Kola
In Ayurveda, gotu kola, also known as Mandukaparni, has been used since ancient days as a rasayana herb that promotes skin health and delays aging. It balances the kapha and pitta doshas and is thus a good remedy for bleeding disorders, colds and cough.
Similar to brahmi, gotu kola’s ‘medhya’ properties help improve memory. When consumed, it detoxifies the body and is also useful in treating diabetes, urinary tract conditions, cardiac disorders and anemia.
As per Dr. Zeel Gandhi, Chief Ayurvedic Doctor at Vedix, “Brahmi - Mandukaparni is a rasayana - vayasthapana drug. It delays physical and mental aging. Centella asiatica improves skin complexion and smoothness. It detoxifies the skin and also purifies the blood to promote skin health.”
2. Scientific View Of Gotu Kola
Scientifically referred to as Centella asiatica, gotu kola’s medicinal properties have led to its widespread use in the pharmaceutical and skincare industries.
It is a rich source of pentacyclic triterpenoids , a group of phytochemicals known for their powerful anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, and wound-healing properties. Further, gotu kola effectively stimulates collagen production, making it a highly sought after anti-aging herb.
Benefits Of Gotu Kola For Skin Care
1. Hydrates Skin
Age, internal health conditions and exposure to the elements deplete and damage the skin barrier. This leads to poor moisture retention and dry, dehydrated skin.
Bioactive ingredients in gotu kola such as triterpenoid saponins, triterpenic steroids, flavonoids, phenolic compounds and essential amino acids help repair the skin barrier and prevent transepidermal water loss . With increased moisture content in the stratum corneum, your skin appears plump, hydrated and healthy.
2. Rich In Antioxidants
Oxidative stress is a leading contributor to premature skin aging and a variety of skin disorders including skin cancer. Normally, enzymes such as superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase  display antioxidant activities and reduce the number of free radicals in the body. Further, the initiation of nuclear factor erythroid-2-related factor 2 also lowers oxidative stress.
According to research, triterpenes such as Asiatic acid, madecassoside and madecassic acid in gotu kola can successfully increase the SOD and GPX enzymes and activate Nrf2 leading to enhanced antioxidant activity within the body.
3. Used For Skin Cleansing
Gotu kola has amazing detoxifying properties according to Ayurvedic science. It cleanses your skin and removes harmful ama toxins that are known to cause various skin conditions. Further, its astringent nature removes excess oil from the face, keeping your pores squeaky clean.
4. Used To Tighten Loose Skin
Skin sagging is a natural process that occurs with age. Phytochemicals, especially triterpenoid saponins and polyacetylenes in gotu kola are known to promote collagen production , prevent collagen breakdown and stimulate proliferation of fibroblasts. This gives the skin structural support and improves its elasticity.
5. Accelerates Wound Healing
Gotu kola can work magic on wounds and burns. Its antiseptic properties prevent further infection and its anti-inflammatory abilities reduce swelling around the wound site. Gotu kola calms the skin and improves blood supply to the wound for quick healing.
It improves collagen production and fibroblast proliferation, thus accelerating re-epithelialization  and wound contraction. This in turn increases the tensile strength of the healing area and prevents wound breakdown.
6. Has Skin Brightening/ Whitening Properties
Frequent exposure to the sun or health conditions such as diabetes can stimulate excess melanin production leading to hyperpigmentation. Gotu kola is listed as a ‘varnya’ (skin lightening) herb in Ayurvedic texts.
Its extracts containing centelloids, flavonoids and tannins display high tyrosinase inhibition  abilities that reduce melanogenesis. Thus, frequent application of gotu kola can fade dark spots and give your skin a clear, bright glow.
7. Reduces Stress Marks
Stress, depression and anxiety can take a serious toll on your skin health. Chronic stress is often related to skin aging and appearance of stress marks on the face. Gotu kola is hailed for its calming , antidepressant and anti-aging properties. Both consumption and topical application of the herb can help you fight the various negative effects of stress on your skin.
8. Treats Acne
Gotu kola has been used since ancient times to cure a variety of skin diseases including ‘Yuvana Pidakas’ or acne. Its anti-inflammatory properties treat inflamed acne lesions. Its antibacterial and antioxidant properties curb bacterial proliferation in your pores and initiate quick wound healing . Gotu kola also prevents the formation of acne scars and marks.
9. Heals Eczema And Psoriasis
Triterpenes such as asiaticoside and madecassoside present in gotu kola are suspected to be responsible for its medicinal properties.
Gotu kola’s ability to reduce inflammation by inhibiting proinflammatory cytokines, has led to its use in the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as atopic dermatitis (eczema)  and psoriasis. Apart from inflammation, gotu kola also reduces pruritus and erythema-like symptoms.
10. Treats Skin Infections
Gotu kola exhibits antibacterial and antiviral properties that can help treat various skin infections. Asiatic acid in gotu kola is effective against a number of bacterial strains such as Staphylococcus aureus, Escherichia coli and others.
According to a study in 2014, extracts of three ancient Ayurvedic herbs namely Curcuma longa L., gotu kola (Centella asiatica) and Strobilanthes crispus L. were used to treat the herpes virus.
11. Heals Cellulite, Scars & Stretch Marks
Cellulite, scars and stretch marks on the skin can be aesthetically displeasing. Gotu kola’s ability to stimulate new collagen synthesis and enhance blood circulation helps in the removal of cellulite, which are fat cells deposited under the skin.
According to research, phytochemicals such as saponins in gotu kola can prevent the formation of wound scars by regulating collagen production.
A study in 2015, showed that gotu kola extracts reduced the appearance of abdominal stretch marks in about 15 subjects who were treated over a period of 6 to 12 weeks.
12. Prevents Skin Cancer
Pentacyclic triterpenoids such as Asiatic acid in gotu kola protects your skin against the harmful effects of UV rays that can lead to melanoma. It prevents further aggravation of melanoma by inducing apoptosis (cell death)  in cancer cells. It also protects damaged cells by reducing oxidative stress and preventing healthy cell death.
Medicinal Uses Of Centella Asiatica/Gotu Kola
The various therapeutic benefits of gotu kola or Centella asiatica have been recognised by both traditional and Western medicine. The following skin and health disorders can be treated through the consumption and/or topical application of gotu kola extracts:
- Wounds and burns
- Atopic dermatitis and other skin inflammatory conditions
- Acne and skin infections
- Cardiac conditions
- Cognitive functioning , Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders
- Liver conditions
- Urinary tract disorders
- Skin, lung, ovary and other cancers
The ‘Ashtang Ghrita’, a powerful nervine tonic used to treat central nervous system disorders, has Mandukaparni or gotu kola as one of its main components. This Ayurvedic drug is found to be effective in the treatment of ADHD, Parkinson’s disease, cerebral palsy, Alzheimer’s disease and many other neurological conditions.
How To Use Gotu Kola In Your Skincare?
Gotu kola or mandukaparni is available in the form of leaves, powder, oil, cream and serums. Here’s a brief guide to including gotu kola in your regular skincare routine.
A. Gotu Kola Oil
Gotu kola oil is usually extracted from the leaves of the plant through infusion with a carrier oil such as sesame. However, before using gotu kola oil, check the ingredients and usage instructions on the bottle. Note if the oil is prediluted with a carrier oil or requires further dilution before applying on the skin.
1. Acne Treatment
For treating inflamed acne lesions, add 2-3 drops of tea tree essential oil to 10 ml of gotu kola oil and use it as a spot treatment. Wash off with lukewarm water after 15 to 20 minutes.
2. For Suntan & Dark Spots
Add 1 ½ tablespoon of gotu kola oil to half tablespoon each of red sandalwood powder and yashtimadhu powder. Mix well and apply on the face and other hyperpigmented areas. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes before washing off.
3. As An Anti-Aging Massage Oil
Begin by cleansing your face. Add 2-3 drops of rosehip essential oil to 10 ml of gotu kola oil and apply on your skin. Massage gently on the face using upward strokes. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water or wipe off with a moist towel.
B. Gotu Kola Powder
1. Dry Skin Face Pack
Mix 1 tablespoon of gotu kola powder with ½ tablespoon of honey, ½ teaspoon of ela powder and 1 teaspoon of triphala powder. Add some milk to prepare a paste and apply on your face. Leave it on for 20 to 30 minutes and wash off.
2. Oily Skin Face Pack
Add 1 tablespoon gotu kola powder to ½ tablespoon each of amla and hibiscus powders. Add sufficient amount of rose water to this to prepare a paste and apply on your oily skin. Leave it on for 30 to 40 minutes before washing off.
3. Anti-Aging Face Pack
Mix 1 ½ tablespoon of gotu kola powder to ½ tablespoon each of guduchi and ashwagandha powders. Add some honey and rose water to the pack to make a paste and apply on your skin. Leave it on for 40 minutes to an hour and wash off.
C. Gotu Kola Leaves
1. Consumption For Skin Health
Gotu Kola Tea
You can use gotu kola tea bags, add a teaspoon of liquid gotu kola extract or throw in 3-4 gotu kola leaves while brewing your tea. Drinking gotu kola tea is proven to have myriad health and skin benefits that include anti-aging properties.
Gotu Kola Juice
Take a bunch of gotu kola leaves. You can also include tender stems. Wash them thoroughly and put them in a blender with 1 cup of water. Add some lemon juice, roasted cumin powder and black salt for taste. Add sugar if you like.
Run the puree through a fine sieve and press the pulp with a spatula to squeeze out all the juice. Add water to adjust consistency if required. Drink daily for improved health and glowing skin.
According to the Ayurvedic texts, 5 to 10ml of pure gotu kola juice extract is a safe dose for regular intake.
Gotu Kola Salad
Adding gotu kola or Centella asiatica to your salad can give a holistic solution to many skin problems. Simply wash fresh gotu kola leaves, remove the stems, chop them and mix them with other ingredients in a mixing bowl for a nutritious salad.
2. For Application On Wounds & Infections
Fresh gotu kola leaf paste can be applied to wounds and skin infections for quick healing. For fungal infections, add some crushed garlic or a tablespoon of haritaki powder to the gotu kola paste and apply on your skin. Leave it for 20 to 30 minutes and wash off.
3. For Eczema
Add 2 tablespoons of gotu kola leaf paste with ½ tablespoon each of turmeric and triphala powders. Mix well and apply on the eczema lesions. Wash off after 1 hour.
For treating acute dry skin (xerosis), mix gotu kola leaf paste with pure, uncooked ghee and apply on the affected areas twice a day.
D. Gotu Kola Serum & Creams
Centella asiatica serums and gotu kola creams are a perfect remedy for scars, stretch marks, dark spots and cellulite. Gotu kola serums work like magic on aging skin. Regular use can help fade age spots, reduce wrinkles and boost collagen production.
Apart from benefiting dry and oily skin, a gotu kola moisturizer is also recommended for sensitive skin, as it can calm your hyperactive immune system and prevent unwanted allergic reactions.
Side Effects & Risks Associated With Gotu Kola
Applying too much gotu kola on the skin may result in allergic reactions and skin irritations. For those consuming the herb, overdosing may lead to headaches, diarrhea, dehydration, drowsiness etc. Unmonitored long term use of gotu kola may interfere with pregnancy and reproduction.
Being an anxiolytic herb, gotu kola is not to be combined with other antidepressants or sleeping medications. It is also advisable to check with your Ayurvedic doctor for the right dosage if you are on hepatoprotective drugs.
Differences Between Gotu Kola & Brahmi
Centella asiatica is referred to as Mandukaparni while Brahmi and Bacopa monnieri is also known as brahmi- vangiya. While both herbs are used as ‘medhyarasayanas’ (memory boosters), brahmi is considered more effective.
On the other hand, gotu kola is a better skin healer. They also differ slightly in their dosha-balancing properties. So, while brahmi calms the vata and pitta doshas, gotu kola is effective in balancing the kapha and pitta doshas.
The Last Word
With the western world is slowly recognizing gotu kola’s immense skin benefits, its extracts are now added to various skin care products especially in the anti-aging range. The herb can also heal minor wounds, burns, inflammatory conditions and infections of the skin.
Its moisturizing, oil-regulating, skin soothing and restoring abilities enable it to cater to the needs of all skin types. So rather than choking your skin with too many products, keep your routine simple by adding gotu kola for well-nourished, radiant, and young skin.Know Your Dosha Now
1. Therapeutic Potential Of Centella Asiatica And Its Triterpenes: A Review, 2020 September
2. Moisturizing And Antiinflammatory Properties Of Cosmetic Formulations Containing Centella Asiatica Extract, 2016 January- February
3. First Line Defence Antioxidants- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD), Catalase (CAT) And Glutathione Peroxidase (GPX): Their Fundamental Role In The Entire Antioxidant Defence Grid, 2017
4. Stimulation Of Collagen Synthesis In Fibroblast Cultures By A Triterpene Extracted From Centella Asiatica, 1990
5. Evaluation Of Topical Formulations Of Aqueous Extract Of Centella Asiatica On Open Wounds In Rats, 1998 June
6. Enhancement Of Skin-Whitening And UV-Protective Effects Of Centella Asiatica L. Urban By Ultrasonification Process, 2010 January
7. Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica), This Herb Is Known For Calming Depressive Episodes, Strengthening Cognitive Function, And Helping One Deal With Both Mental And Physical Stress
8. A Systematic Review Of The Effect Of Centella Asiatica On Wound Healing, 2022 March
9. Pharmacological Effects Of Centella Asiatica On Skin Diseases: Evidence And Possible Mechanisms, 2021 November
10. Pharmacological Review On Asiatic Acid And Its Derivatives: A Potential Compound, 2018 April
11. Effects Of Centella Asiatica (L.) Urb. On Cognitive Function And Mood Related Outcomes: A Systematic Review And Meta-Analysis, 2017 September
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