Gotu kola photo

Gotu kola sends out vines with maturing seeds in the fall.

You may have heard of gotu kola (Centella Asiatica) as a tropical plant used for centuries in Sri Lanka, Africa, India and Asian cuisine. Juice bars in places like Thailand, offer shots of gotu kola juice. Also known as Indian pennywort, it has been used to treat many health conditions including anxiety, depression, fatigue, memory loss and insomnia. Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, it may improve conditions like arthritis, eczema or psoriasis, digestion, skin and hair. It can be found in health food stores and dried in capsule form. But if you grow it yourself, you may eat it in a salad or any Asian cuisine, drink it in a tea (it is a plant in the coffee family) or make your own capsules. It is commonly grown as a ground cover in warmer climates (zones 9b or above); some would say it grows like a weed.

So, why are we discussing a plant that grows only in the tropics when we live in north central Idaho? Because you can purchase seeds, a potted plant or even dried herb (all organic) from places like Strictly Medicinal seeds. In this climate, you will need to grow it in a pot, or as a standard field crop or seasonal annual. They go on to say “Used to treat ulcerations, both internal and external, improve digestion and fight amoebic dysentery. Regular use imparts healthy color and tone to skin, and treats eczema, psoriasis and rheumatism. It speeds healthy growth of hair, skin and nails.”