Vaidya Mishra's Knowledge Newsletter
According to the ancient Ayurvedic texts, gotu kola (mandukaparni in Sanskrit) is a powerful herb for strengthening the mind (medhya), improving memory (smriti prada), reversing aging (ayushya and rasayani), supporting the voice (swarya), removing toxins (vishahara), and improving skin diseases (kushtaghni).
Modern research too has found that it enhances collagen synthesis (good for youthful skin) and improves mental function, especially memory. You can browse Google Scholar for a list of research studies on this well documented herb.
You will also find a number of studies which give contraindications for taking this herb.
Gotu kola is a powerful herb. According to Ayurveda, it not only stimulates the brain, it stimulates the liver due to it's tikta rasa (bitter taste). If the liver is holding a lot of toxins, as is the case in almost every person in the modern world, this herb can stimulate the liver to dump some of its toxins through the gall bladder into the intestines.
If conditions in the intestines are not good, which is often the case when there are lots of toxins in the liver, then irritable bowel syndrome can result. There can be diarrhea, nausea, skin breakout and a foggy feeling in the brain (like a hangover). This happens when the toxins from the liver get reabsorbed into the bloodstream in the colon.
You may blame your reactions on other factors in your life, but the cause may well be the improper use of gotu kola.
In addition, there have been many reported cases of allergic dermatitis with contemporary use of this herb. You should use it with extreme caution and always consult your physician before taking any herb. If there is any doubt, apply a small amount of the herb, under your physician's guidance, to the skin the day before you plan to take it internally to test for an allergic reaction.
According to Physicians Desk Reference, gotu kola should not be used in case of pregnancy (nothing strongly bitter should be taken during pregnancy because it causes toxins from the liver to get reabsorbed into the blood, and may cause an abortion). Gotu kola is also reported to give skin irritation, enhanced photo sensitivity, infertility, diabetes and hyperlipidemia, and aggravation of eczema
All of this happens mainly when gotu kola is used in an allopathic way. You can't take an ancient Ayurvedic principle of using gotu kola to improve health, and use it in an allopathic way by taking it in capsule form, or in large doses.
True Ayurveda, as it is taught in the ancient text, Charak Samhita, does not recommend one herb for the mind, and one herb for the liver and one herb for the colon for everyone. No. It does not even recommend one herb for all headaches, or one herb for all fevers. Charak Samhita teaches tri sutra ayurveda.
trisutram shashwatam punyam bubudhe yam pitamaha Charak Samhita Sutrasthan vs. 24.
Tri sutra ayurveda refers to the first three words of this verse. Tri means "three" in Sanskrit, and sutra means a very condensed form of knowledge (just a few words) which can be elaborated ad. infinitum—a sutra is a kind of a shorthand expression. The wise know how to unpack the condensed meaning of a sutra and apply it in practical life.
Each of the first three words in this verse is a sutra: hetu, linga, aushadhi. Hetu means etiological factor (or root cause of imbalance or disease). Linga means symptoms. Aushadhi means herb or treatment protocol. This is the approach that an Ayurvedic practitioner takes when faced with a health problem.
In the Sanskrit texts, the order of the words is also very important. Hetu comes first, which means that it is the most important, and should be the first one that should be addressed. Linga (symptoms) and aushadhi (herbs) are useful only after identifying and removing the etiological factor (or root cause).
Allopathic medicine tends to use a disease/drug model for treatment. If the patient is displaying certain symptoms (linga), then certain drugs (aushadhi) are given. It pays little attention to the specifics of the person's lifestyle, body-type, food, etc., that may have caused the problem in the first place (hetu). Knowledge is derived from studies on lots of people and results are predicted for the average person. The specifics of each person are not always considered.
In essence, modern medicine uses a "dvi sutra ayurveda" (only two sutra) approach. It pays attention to linga (symptoms) and aushadhi (drugs or treatment protocols). But, unlike Ayurveda, it does not always get to the root causes of disease (hetu), which are very specific to each person, time, place and condition.
When Ayurvedic herbs like gotu kola are used without paying attention to the specifics of the person, the condition of the person (especially the liver health), the diet of the person, and many other factors, they can cause problems.
This is why we recommend that you get a consultation with a Shaka Vansya Ayurvedic practitioner before using a powerful herb like gotu kola in crude form, and that you check with your physician before starting to use it. Don't use this or any of the Ayurvedic herbs blindly, they are specific keys for specific locks. One size does not fit all.
Processing and combination with other ingredients changes the effects of any herb. For example, Vaidya Mishra has created a Gotu Kola Herbal Memory Nectar product which delivers the prabhavas (special properties) of the gotu kola without much of its physical components that can cause adverse reactions in a toxic body.
The combination with other ingredients and the special processing used to create the formulation allows gotu kola in herbal memory nectar form to be effective, with much less risk of side-effects.
Even the crude herb, sold on this page, when recommended by your Shaka Vansya Ayurveda practitioner, will probably be used in balanced coordination with several other herbs or foods, and it may come with instructions for special processing. It is the knowledge of processing (samskar) and combination (samyog) in Ayurveda that sets Vaidya Mishra's family lineage apart in the field of Ayurveda.
Don't fall victim to an allopathic approach to Ayurveda. Don't pop gotu kola like an aspirin. This approach defames the subtle understanding in Ayurveda of how to use powerful herbs like gotu kola in a safe and very effective way.
Study the ancient, Sanskrit texts with Vaidya Mishra in the following downloadable lecture.
Mandukaparni - Learn About the Ability of Gotu Kola to Improve Mental Function (27 minute downloadable audio lecture in MP3 format for only 99¢)
Grade A wildcrafted gotu kola
Add one pinch of gotu kola to your one or two liters of herbal tea mixuture given to you by your Shaka Vansya Ayurveda practitioner and sip throughout the day.
Use under the guidance of a Shaka Vansya Ayurveda practitioner. As with all herbs, please consult with your physician before using.
Gotu kola is available as an ingredient in many of our herbal products. Whenever you see the name brahmi in Vaidya Mishra's products, it means the balanced combination of aindri (bacopa monnieri) and mandukaparni (gotu kola). Some products also feature bacopa by itself. Others feature gotu kola alone.
This product and statements have not been evaluated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and are not intended to be used to diagnose, treat or cure any disease. All of the information above is intended to be used for educational purposes only and may not be used to replace or compliment medical advice.