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Health Benefits of Pennywort or Gotu Kola

Updated on July 6, 2017

Other Names

  • Latin name = Centella asiatica
  • English name = Pennywort, Asiatic Pennywort, or Indian Pennywort
  • Sri Lankan name = Gotu Kola

Other names for pennywort include:

Pennywort is also known as:

  • Grahmi
  • Marsh pennywort
  • Common pennywort
  • Waternavel
  • Sombrevillo de agua
  • Bachelor's buttons
  • Penny grass

History of Pennywort or Gotu Kola

The health benefits of the pennywort plant were acknowledged many centuries ago for the treatment of various conditions. It is used as part of Ayurvedic medicine, especially in traditional Indian and Chinese medicine practices.

Pennywort is a perennial herb that originates in moist areas. It is native to India, Sri Lanka, and Northern Australia as well as a few other areas in Asia.

Pennywort has been associated with a few Asian legends. It is said that a Tai Chi Chuan master, Li Ching-Yun, lived to the age of 256 years due to an assortment of herbs he consumed daily, one being pennywort.

Another tale is of King Aruna and his use of pennywort. He believed it gave him the energy and stamina necessary for his harem of 50 women.

How Pennywort Works

Health Benefits and Medicinal Uses

The benefits of pennywort tea are numerous and many people use this tea as a health tonic. Maintaining youth and the treatment of arthritis are its most popular use.

It is recognized as a longevity herb because of its ability to help rebuild connective tissue, which in turn, can slow the aging process.

Research has confirmed that pennywort (gotu kola) is effective for treating many conditions, including swelling and joint pain as well as anxiety, fatigue, and memory issues.

Memory

Plus, it has been commended as a great antidote for improving memory and, therefore, considered food for the brain. Studies have indicated that consuming 2-4 raw pennywort leaves a day may help sharpen alertness and memory and rejuvenate the brain.

There is important research being conducted to observe the effects this herb can have on those suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.

Nervous System

The central nervous system can receive amazing benefits with the consumption of pennywort. This herb works well in relaxing the mind and can assist in certain nervous disorders, senility, strokes, ADD, and epilepsy. It can be utilized as a nerve tonic when coping with mental stress and fatigue and encourage sleep due to a nervous condition.

Immune System

Pennywort can help protect our immune system from toxins. High blood pressure, congestive heart failure, venereal diseases and urinary tract infections are a few of a range of illnesses that can be treated with this remarkable herb.

Because of its antibiotic properties, it has the capability to speed up the healing process of wounds. Furthermore, pennywort can improve blood flow while also reinforcing veins and capillaries, making them stronger.

It is effective in bringing down fever and treating dysentery in children, which is a severe form of diarrhea.

Circulation and Skin Conditions

Studies have shown it to be beneficial in healing and preventing phlebitis, leg cramps, and blood clots as well as decreasing the appearance of varicose veins.

Pennywort has also proved to cleanse and purify the blood stream and can remedy certain skin conditions such as eczema, chronic ulcers, sores, and scleroderma, which is a condition that hardens the skin. A powder can be made from the leaves of this plant and applied to the eruptions on the skin. 

Precautions

There are possible side effects of this herb and it should only be taken under the advice of your doctor. It is advised to follow the recommended doses, as increased use can lead to complications with your health.

Gotu kola has the potential to be harmful to the liver. Talk to your doctor about using this herb, and do not use it for more than six consecutive weeks. Take a two-week break before beginning again.

Gotu kola contains asiaticoside, which has been linked with tumor growth in mice. Anyone with a history of precancerous or cancerous skin lesions, such as squamous cell, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma, should not use gotu kola.

People with liver disease, or who take medications that affect the liver, should avoid this herb.

It may increase cholesterol and blood sugar levels, therefore, it should be avoided by those with high cholesterol or diabetic individuals. Also, it should not be used during pregnancy due to the possibility of miscarriage.

Before implementing pennywort or gotu kola into your diet, consult your doctor first to see if it's safe for you.

  • herbwisdom.com/herb-gotu-kola.html
  • stuartxchange.com/pennywort.html
  • buzzle.com/articles/medicinal-plants-and-their-uses.,html
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/centella_asiatica
  • umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/gotu-kola
  • ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/
  • webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-753-gotu%20kola.aspx?activeingredientid=753

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    • profile image

      HK 2 days ago

      Thanks for the article. Its certainly an interesting read. I have started blending pennyworts as a juice i drink daily after i saw a video that showcased d fantastic benefits the leaves including the lowering of cholestrol and being great for the liver n diabetes. I m now a little concern after reading your article about the negative effects it has on the liver, sugar levels n cholesterol. Can you clarify? Many thanks.

    • profile image

      Martha Levinski 11 days ago

      So wonderful to see this wonderful gotukola as I knew it when I was introduced to it in India.Now I am in Eastern TEnnessee and saw a lot of this herb in the Smokey Mountains. I am wondering about the identification specifics because I see some leaves with spiked ends, others with round ends and now when I looked at internet photos I see some with out the rounded ends, just straight. I want to eat them all, but also want to know if I have to be careful with this plant? Can anyone e-mail me about this? ammasbrats@yahoo.com Thanks for the beautiful article

    • profile image

      Veenu 2 months ago

      So glad you post so responsibly, including the side effects and contraindications of the herb. Thank you.

    • profile image

      Eli Morgan 3 months ago

      It is so invasive. I live in MS and we have to poison it out of our Lawns. All my neighbors and myself are having to fight it hard. The herbicide to kill it and not kill St. Augustine grass is either Spectracide or Ortho Lawn Weed Killer.

    • profile image

      Ruth Yeo 4 months ago

      I started it after a friend showed me a video of a man who benefited from it. My skin tone improves, the heaviness on my shoulders disappear and on a particular day I had it a cut that was bleeding healed totally by end of day with no scar.

    • profile image

      KAREN SUTHERLAND 4 months ago

      I am in Perth Western Australia, what is the plant called here and where would I find it..i have been diagnosed with Rheumatoid.

    • profile image

      Eddie, Botswana 8 months ago

      This herb is so health beneficial now um wondering if one can find it here and what could it be called this side.

      If anyone around here has seen or heard of it please advice.

      Thank you in advance

    • profile image

      Naz 9 months ago

      I bought some pennywort leaves and will be juicing it with green apples

    • profile image

      Alex 9 months ago

      Hi Van, I have seen it for sale in Bunnings, in the herbs seedling section.

    • profile image

      Sujoy Ghosh 10 months ago

      I am from India.On a visit to my elder daughter in Australia her mother-in-law recommended Pennywort leaves,in Bengali,an Indian language,it is known as 'thankuni pata'.I have been taking it regularly every morning on an empty stomach and my knee pain due to arthritis, is no longer felt.I have not felt any side effects though I am close to eighty and am able to walk very freely.Sujoy Ghosh

    • profile image

      Van 10 months ago

      Do you get this plant anywhere in New Zealand? It sounds like a wonder plant!

    • profile image

      ummar 10 months ago

      In Malaysia we called it as daun pegaga and we eat it raw with rice.

    • profile image

      Lo 10 months ago

      Bad for high cholesterol and diabetic individual,, hard to believe. I love this drink but im pre diabetic got to think twice now if I should continue drinking this stuff.

    • profile image

      Richard Pham 14 months ago

      Pennywort is called rau ma in Vietnamese, you can almost find this in all vietnamese restaurant. Very beneficial and healthy it aides quickly in loosening up hard stool adding fiber to it and makes it more liquid. It is normally blended into a juice drink in the restaurant and taste very good.

    • profile image

      Usha Umapathi 16 months ago

      In India it's been used from ancient times for many of the purposes that you have mentioned as well as to make hair oil. Thanks for all this information. It's an easy to grow plant in the tropics.

    • profile image

      miriam 23 months ago

      Thanks for the information. i started drinking last night,& i like it

    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Was not familiar with the pennywort plant. Very informative.

    • profile image

      Khin Oo 2 years ago

      In Burma we call this plant as Horse Shoe Leaves

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 2 years ago from Mississippi

      poetryman6969

      It seems to be a very beneficial plant that has apparently helped many with various ailments.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting! :)

    • poetryman6969 profile image

      poetryman6969 2 years ago

      It looks like an herb well worth checking out.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 2 years ago from Mississippi

      So glad you found this hub helpful. It really is an amazing herb. Thanks so much for your sweet comment! :)

    • profile image

      Khin Zaw 2 years ago

      It's called Myin Khwar in Burmese. It's a traditional Myanmar herbal medicine and used for various diseases as well as tonic good for brain and eye power.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 2 years ago from Taos, NM

      Fascinating hub on pennywort. It is everywhere and so plentiful. I never knew of its health benefits and I thank you for writing this article to inform us of how healthy and helpful it is to our well being. Voted up+ and shared.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 3 years ago from Mississippi

      Yes, they really are amazing! Thanks so much for reading and commenting :)

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 3 years ago from Mississippi

      I have been so surprised of the health benefits of plants since I begin studing them. Some of them are just amazing at what they can do. Thanks so much for your comment! :)

    • profile image

      sam 3 years ago

      These plants have medicinal value and is ayurvedic.we bought some of the plants from a store in Liverpool in scott street. think was vinayak spice shop at 25 scott st.

      we have placed some orders for aloe vera , pennywort and tulsi. these herbs are amazing .

    • cygnetbrown profile image

      Donna Brown 3 years ago from Alton, Missouri

      The leaves remind me of nasturtiums. It certainly is amazing how valuable plants can be to our health.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 3 years ago from Mississippi

      Una Harrison

      I'm so sorry you have this painful diagnosis. Neck and back pain can be so debilitating. I have heard many stories of how pennywort has helped so many. I do hope it can bring you much relief from your condition. Good thing you have a hearty supply of it! :)

      Thanks so much for reading and leaving your comment! :)

    • profile image

      Una Harrison 3 years ago

      Many years ago I came across an item in a magazine, an elderly couple had been crippled with arthritis and told how Pennywort had given them back their pain free life.

      I found a plant in a local nursery and bought it home, planted in my shade house alongside orchids etc. Promptly forgot about it, as you do (as I could do). 2 days ago I was diagnosed with arthritis in my neck spine. Since I usually have a high tolerance to pain, I became concerned that the pain in my neck was getting more severe. An x ray showed the problem and I was advised to take pain/anti-inflammatory medication.

      Then I remembered my very large tub of healthy Pennywort. I am now going to do with this wonderful plant what I intended to do in the first place. I will also take a visit to a local Homeopathy clinic, a place where I was able to get amazing results and remove a condition of incontinence. Thanks Daren Grech, a naturopath, you gave me back my life.

      Thank you so much. Una Harrison

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 3 years ago from Mississippi

      Joe

      Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Joe 3 years ago

      I literally have thousands in my yard

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

      Helen,

      So glad that you found this information useful. This herb can be ordered many places on the internet if the Asian shops do not have it. Pennywort likes wet climates so you should be able to grow it without a problem. Thanks so much for reading! :)

    • profile image

      helen 4 years ago

      Thanks for great info. Have been trying to find this in Ireland. Garden centre never heard of it. Would Asian shops have it here and if I got seeds do you know would it grow in our wet cold climate. Many thanks

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

      Le

      Thanks for the other suggested uses for this herb. I was unaware of its use for facial skin.This is really an amazing plant that is so beneficial to our health. Thanks so much for reading and your comments :)

    • profile image

      Le 4 years ago

      I've been consuming this herb for years and i was told that its good for facial skin. Keeps you cool that way u dont sweat and keeps dirt from getting into your pores. My parents also use it for soups, helps extract the leaves. But i prefer it as a drink. Find a way to grind it into a paste then add water and sugar

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

      Suharni

      Thanks for the great tip and for reading :)

    • profile image

      Maribel 4 years ago

      It's going to sound strange in how I heard of pennywort since I'm not much of a reader. In a movie. But now I'm having a hard time finding in Austin TX.

    • profile image

      Suharni 4 years ago

      Thk you for the above info. Recently I found this herbs and has been juicing it. Add green apples for that little natural sweetness.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 4 years ago from Mississippi

      Hi BC, I think that would be a great habit to have :) Thanks so much for reading and I'm glad you found it useful.

    • profile image

      BC 5 years ago

      Just had a pennywort juice made fresh and the local supermarket, might have to make a habit of it, thanks for the info on this page.

    • profile image

      Henry Truong 5 years ago

      I grow them in my backyard here in Virginia. You can buy the seeds from ebay or amazon.com

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Thanks for the tip! :)

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Hi Calif

      That is great! I have heard some amazing testimonies about this herb. It is truly something wonderful. So happy it did great things for you and has helped you with what sounds like a great career. Thanks so much for your comments and reading! :)

    • profile image

      Calif 5 years ago

      Ris8994,

      Thanks for publishing such an informative article on pennywort.

      Let me share one personnel experience on this pennywort herb...

      I was born and brought up in some village in south east Asia(India),when I was a kid, I was too bad at studies due to lack of memory and focus...

      At that age,My grandmother suggested me to eat this pennywort leaves to improve my memory

      I took that suggestion seriously and started eating pennywort leaves almost every day continuously for 3-4 years (pennywort leaves were too bitter to eat,but believe me getting used to bitterness will bring sweetness one fine day :-)) after few years of eating pennywort I literally started developing good memory,focus,knowledge, brain power etc...

      Here I'm with good engineering graduation working for leading software org in California :-)

    • profile image

      Calif 5 years ago

      Go to any Chinese stores like lion or ranch99 ,you will get pennywort juice

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      James

      I had never heard of it either until I found it one day when I was looking for information on another herb. It seems to work great for a lot of people and is well worth checking out. Thanks for your comments as always :)

    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 5 years ago from Chicago

      I must confess that I had never heard of pennywort. I appreciate the education about this miraculous plant. Thank you for an excellent and needful Hub. :-)

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Mk, that is great that it has done that for you. I have never thought of mixing with coconut water. I will try that. Thanks so much for your comment :)

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Hi tillsontitian, I came across pennywort one day as I was researching another herb and was amazed at its potential health benefits. It is definitely worth looking into. Thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment. I appreciate it! :)

    • profile image

      Mk 5 years ago

      My mom always use it to lower my temperature whenever I have hight temperature in my body , we make juice out of pennywort and then mixe it with young fresh coconut water.

    • tillsontitan profile image

      Mary Craig 5 years ago from New York

      Like those above, I've never heard of pennywort but after reading this hub I want to learn more. The comment by Baz definitely makes this more interesting. It seems the benefits are extraordinary. So glad you wrote this! Voted up, interesting, and so very useful.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Scott

      That is amazing. So glad that this herb did that for you. Pennywort has so many health benefits. Thanks so much for reading :)

      Dan

      Thank you for your insight on where to find this herb and thanks for reading :)

    • profile image

      Dan 5 years ago

      If any one is having trouble finding this herb, you can usually get it at your local asian food market!

    • profile image

      Scott 5 years ago

      My Filipina friend gave me a few roots last October. I planted them in a 12-16 quart planter in my yard and they grew hogwild after a slow start. Ran out ofHBP med 2 days ago, so broke off 2 leaves with about 2 inches of stem each, rinsed and ate raw...felt my BP going down in about 5-10 minutes.

    • rls8994 profile image
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      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Yes, dollar weed is another name for pennywort. Thanks for taking the time to read my article :)

    • profile image

      Guest 5 years ago

      Is this the same as dollar weed. It grows wildfire in St Augustine!

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      Markbennis

      I too believe these plants are not utilized as much as they should be and that we are just now starting to see how beneficial they can be to our health. Thanks so much for taking the time to read my article. I appreciate it so much :)

    • profile image

      markbennis 5 years ago

      This was interesting and learned something new, I like the thought of organic healing methods and believe Mother Nature has a cure or remedy for every need on the planet. So much to re learn and discover, thanks voted up!

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      I actually stumbled upon it one day and was impressed with its abilities. Thanks for your comment :)

    • Stacie L profile image

      Stacie L 5 years ago

      well this is a new one for me. i research herbs and alternative medicine and this one is one I've never heard of til now .Good.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 5 years ago from Mississippi

      From what I have read I'm pretty sure that it does. It's an amazing herb with so many healthy benefits for our health. Thanks so much for your comment!

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      I've never even heard of this herb. I wonder if it grows in Southern California. Voting this Up and Interesting.

    • profile image

      Baz 5 years ago

      Half crippled with arthritis in knees. After 2 weeks am bending again and walking with less than half the pain. I'm sold

    • profile image

      Dom 5 years ago

      It is called Rau Ma in Vietnamese.

    • rls8994 profile image
      Author

      rls8994 6 years ago from Mississippi

      Fiddleman

      This plant does have several other names such as Brahmi, Kula Kud and Gotu kola to name a few. Thanks so much for your comment :)

      Peterdros

      Thank you for reading and so glad you liked it :)

    • profile image

      peterdros 6 years ago

      Nice, herb diet.Nice written hub!!!!!!!!

    • Fiddleman profile image

      Robert Elias Ballard 6 years ago from Zirconia, North Carolina

      This is one herb I hadn't heard unless it has a different local name. Many here in the Blue Ridge use herbs as medicines.