Medicinal plants are found in abundance in Meghalaya. Northeast is considered to be one of the two hotspots of medicinal plants in India. The other hotspot being the Western Ghats. Even though Meghalaya has 850 species of medicinal plants, there is still a lack of awareness and knowledge within the state itself resulting in overexploitation of land resources leading to depletion of Meghalaya’s treasure.
There is a lack of awareness about the healing properties of herbal medicines. People are becoming more dependent on synthetic drugs which are easily accessible, especially when they are city dwellers.
Meghalaya traditional healers have been using herbs for ages. Their knowledge of the use of herbs for their practice has been passed down through generations. Sadly there are no records about the use of herbs by these herbalists. They continue the use of herbs only through their practice.
According to a Survey conducted by the East Khasi Hills Districts of Meghalaya in the year 2005, traditional healers belonging to a family of indigenous practitioners had vast knowledge and first-hand experience about the various plants they use for many ailments. Be it a minor stomach ache or a major illness.
“Khlieng Syiar” or the “Gotu Kola” is commonly used by traditional healers as one of the components in preparing traditional medicines. The herb is known as “Ka Dawai Bah”, the all in one medicine. The leaves are eaten raw for stomach problem like stomach ache, diarrhea, acidity, and so on.
With no scientific evidence or study, herbalist have been using it over the years, and it has proved to have tremendous healing properties.
Gotu kola is eaten raw as a salad in Northeast India. It is also mixed with other vegetable and consumed fresh.
What is Gotu Kola?
Gotu Kola a medicinal plant is found in abundance in Meghalaya and in most of the Northeastern states of India.
Gotu Kola also well known as Centella Asiatica, is a perennial herbaceous plant which occurs throughout the year. It a moisture-loving creeping herb and found mainly in the wasteland, roadsides, grasslands, fallows, streamside, and open forest canopy.
Gotu Kola thrives in tropical and sub-tropical climate. It is widely distributed in India, and it can grow even up to an altitude of 6000 ft.
Health benefits of Gotu Kola
As the locals call Gotu Kola – “Ka Dawai Bah”, or Power Medicine, this gives us an excellent idea of how vital this herb is to our health. The juice of the leave is the key ingredient in medical preparation and it is a popular remedy in combating hair loss and reduce baldness, insomnia, asthma, bronchitis, fever, etc.
1. Prevents Nervous Disorders
There are many health issues related to nervous disorder; such as Parkinson’s disease that affects the central nervous system; Carpel tunnel syndrome, which causes numbness in the arms, paralysis, Bell’s palsy, cerebral palsy, epilepsy, to name a few. These illnesses are related to the nervous system and can cause health complications.
Gotu Kola has an antianxiety agent which helps in relieving stress, enhancing the mood and inducing sleep thereby calming the nervous system.
The molecular mechanism of Gotu Kola on neuroprotection remains to be elucidated.
2. Memory Improvement
Does it help in boosting your grey matter?
Gotu kola is also popular as brain food. It enhances or improves your memory.
When the aqueous extract of the whole plant is consumed, it enhances memory retention and learning and reduces the lipid peroxidation and growth of endogenous antioxidant enzymes in the brain.
Gotu kola extract has been used to treat Alzheimer’s, a cognitive disorder and memory impairment disease. The herb is long used in Ayurvedic to treat mental and cognitive disorders.
Gotu kola also helps in stimulating your brain’s neural pathways by eliminating plaque and free radicals from the brain.
3. Boost Blood Circulation
Gotu kola is known to support healthy veins and vessels throughout the circulatory system.
The most common problems due to degeneration or malfunction of blood circulation is varicose veins and haemorrhoids.
When the extract of Gotu kola leaves is consumed, triterpenes a molecule of Gotu Kola works on the veins, improving their tone and making them less susceptible to the degenerative processes that can lead to varicose veins and other problems.
4. Regulate Blood Sugar Level
Gotu kola is well known by the Khasis’ people in helping to control blood sugar levels. The herb is steeped overnight in hot water, and the water is extracted and consumed the following day.
Gotu Kola is a strong candidate for alleviating diabetic symptoms, and perhaps controlling the increase of diabetes mellitus, because of its various compounds and functions. (Source: Archives in Cancer Research)
5. Stress Buster
Stress is becoming a common factor in the present age with a hectic lifestyle, and daily pressure in different forms. Stress can lead to sleep deprivation, the result of which is anxiety.
Gotu Kola has immense therapeutic potential. The herb has a positive effect on anxiety issues. It calms the adrenal glands, which in turn lowers the release of stress hormone and increases dopamine and serotonin levels.
6. Wound Healing
As kids, we are always falling and covered in bruises and wounds. What our elders would do is take a bunch of Gotu kola leaves, moisten the herb with saliva chew it for a while. With chewing it becomes dark green in colour. This is then taken out and applied on the wound with a bandage wrapped around it. The bandage is left for a day. Depending on the intensity of the wound, the dressing is changed.
Pharmacological experiments have proven that the increased antioxidant activity of Gotu kola indicates the wound healing properties of Gotu Kola extract.
Gotu kola provides the same healing property when consumed orally. When taken in its natural form or powdered form, the herb aid in stimulating blood flow to the cells and protects your immune system against infections, thus, speeding up the healing process in your body.
7. Relieve Joint Pain
Because of the presence of anti-inflammatory properties of Gotu Kola, it helps in relieving from joint pain. The herb is used in treating arthritis.
Research had shown that when Gotu kola was administered orally it suppressed joint inflammation. The herb is also shown to reduce cartilage erosion and bone erosion.
8. Skin Treatment
Because of its numerous health benefit when consumed, Gotu kola has also been tried and tested and used externally to determine its benefits, and it has always proved to give a positive result.
Gotu Kola can also help you achieve the skin you desire. Applying Gotu kola paste on your skin reduce the appearance of wrinkles scars and other skin blemishes.
A study by Gohil et al. found that Gotu kola acted on the connective tissues of the vascular wall. In conditions of hypertensive microangiopathy and venous insufficiency, the herb improves microcirculatory parameters by lowering capillary filtration, making Gotu Kola a candidate for reducing the appearance of skin ageing.
Gotu Kola has been used for ages by traditional healer and Ayurveda practitioners to treat all kinds of ailments. The herb is blended with other plants to increase its effectiveness including the benefits of other herbs.
Zizira has it’s very own Green detox Gotu kola tea blend. The ingredients contain not only the healing power of Gotu kola but also the benefits of papaya leaves and green tea, thus helping you achieve the benefits of three ingredients in one cup every day. Blend this tea into your daily food lifestyle for a detoxifying and energetic day.
We recently launched pure Gotu Kola powder on Zizira store. It is also available on Amazon.
Gotu Kola also comes with its side effects. If you are allergic to the herb, it is advisable that you don’t take it. Some allergic reaction includes burning sensation of your skin, itching, breathing difficulty, swelling face, throat, lips or tongue.
If you have any existing health complications, it is best to consult with your doctor first.
Zizira is always hunting for new herbs and plants in the pristine hill of Meghalaya. Are you aware of any plants growing in and around you that are medicinal in nature? Leave us a comment below.