Family: Apiaceae or Umbelliferae
Other names: Hydrocotyle asiatica, L. H. cordifolia, H. repanda, Gotu Kola
Gotu kola, Kola, is an outstandingly important medicinal herb that is widely used in the Orient[ and is becoming increasingly popular in the West. Its Indian name is ‘Brahmi’ which means ‘bringing knowledge of the Supreme Reality’ and it has long been used there medicinally and as an aid to meditation. It is a useful tonic and cleansing herb for skin problems and digestive disorder. In India it is chiefly valued as a revitalizing herb that strengthens nervous function and memory. The whole plant is alterative, cardio-depressant, hypotensive, weakly sedative and tonic. It is a rejuvenating diuretic herb that clears toxins, reduces inflammations and fevers, improves healing and immunity, improves the memory and has a balancing effect on the nervous system. It has been suggested that regular use of the herb can rejuvenate the nervous system and it therefore deserves attention as a possible cure for a wide range of nervous disorders including multiple sclerosis. Recent research has shown that gotu kola reduces scarring, improves circulatory problems in the lower limbs and speeds the healing process. It is used internally in the treatment of wounds, chronic skin conditions (including leprosy), venereal diseases, malaria, varicose veins, ulcers, nervous disorders and senility.
There is a warning that the plant can irritate the skin, though it is widely used to treat skin complaints. Caution should be observed since excess doses cause headaches and transient unconsciousness.
Habitat: E. Asia – India, China and Japan. Australia. Old stone walls and rocky sunny places in lowland hills and especially by the coast in central and southern Japan. Shady, damp and wet places such as paddy fields, and in grass thickets.
Kola Nut Medicinal Properties are currently still being investigated but what has come out is Gotu Kola it does work!
Centella asiatica is an evergreen Perennial growing to 0.2 m (0ft 8in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). It is hardy to zone 8 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects.The plant is self-fertile. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil.
Cultivation of Kola:
Prefers a moist to wet soil in sun or partial shade. Plants also grow on walls in the wild and so should tolerate drier conditions. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. It grows and spreads very well outdoors during the summer in most parts of the country and is very easy to increase by division. It can therefore be grown as a summer crop with divisions being taken during the growing season and overwintered in a greenhouse in case the outdoor plants are killed by winter cold.
Propagation of Kola:
Seed – sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in a greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out in late spring or early summer of the following year, after the last expected frosts. Division is simple at any time in the growing season, though the spring is probably best. We find that it is best to pot up the divisions until they are rooting away well, though in selected mild gardens it should be possible to plant the divisions out directly into their permanent positions.
Culinary uses of Kola nuts:
Edible Parts: Leaves. Edible Uses: Leaves – raw or cooked. Used in salads and in curries. Cooked as a vegetable. An aromatic flavour, we have found them to be rather overpowering in salads when used in any but small quantities. Collection: Seeds in autumn. Leaves all year round; the dried herb quickly loses its medicinal properties and so is best used fresh.
Actions: Stimulant to central nervous system, anti-depressive, astringent, diuretic.
Part Used: Seed kernel.
Kola has a marked stimulating effect on the human consciousness. It can be used wherever there is a need for direct stimulation, which is less often than is usually thought. Through regaining proper health and therefore right functioning, the nervous system does not need such help. In the short term it may be used in nervous debility, in states of atony and weakness. It can act as a specific in nervous diarrhea. It will aid instates of depression and may in some people give rise to euphoric states. In some varieties of migraine it can help greatly. Through the stimulation it will be a valuable part of the treatment for anorexia. It can be viewed as specific in cases of depression associated with weakness and debility. Externally, the herb is applied to wounds, haemorrhoids and rheumatic joints.
Ellingwood recommends it for the following pathologies: “neurasthenia and hysteria, characterized by great mental despondency, foreboding, brooding, more of a quiet or silent character. It is especially indicated if the heart is feeble and irregular in its action, with general muscular feebleness.” chronic diarrhea’s, sea sickness.
Preparations & Dosage of Kola:
Decoction; put 1-2 teaspoonfuls of the powdered nuts in a cup of water, bring to boiling and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes. This should be drunk when needed. Tincture; take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.
Other uses of Kola:
Cosmetic. Extracts of the plant are added to cosmetic masks and creams to increase collagen and firm the skin.
Peace, removing depression, and calming
- Caffeine, with traces of theobromine
- Tannins and phenolics; d-catechin, l-epicatechin, kolatin, kolatein, kolanin and in the fresh nut, catechol and (-) epicatechol
- Miscellaneous; phlobaphene, an anthocyanin pigment known as “kola red”, betaine, protein, starch.