Despite the crossover names and confusion, gotu kola is a separate compound than the bacopa monnieri plant with cognitive enhancing properties. Because these both have been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine, the terminology for one is sometimes used for another (such as is the case with “tulsi”).
Well studied in recent years, gotu kola is known as a tool to aid in neurogenesis and neuronal growth . The nootropic can also be neuroprotective . Gotu kola is used to treat anxiety and can increase calmness, contentment, and overall mood .
Gotu kola is one of the few natural nootropics that has many benefits, is relatively low risk, and is well-studied by modern researchers.
Also Known As
Centella Asiatica, Indian Pennywort, Jal Brahmi and Mandookaparni, Brahmi, Tsubokusa
Editors’ Thoughts on Gotu Kola
I’ve never tried gotu kola by itself, but when I first heard of the nootropic, it was from Dr. Daniel Stickler, M.D. who is the founder of Apeiron. He has a medical practice that focuses on optimization and enhancement versus “sick care”, which most medical professionals focus on. He suggested gotu kola was one of the best nootropics for a beginner to use to optimize their mental performance.
From the research, I have to agree. Gotu kola seems to have few harmful side effects and has been used for thousands of years. The modern evidence seems to agree with the traditional usage and that’s a good sign. For a risk-averse beginner, this might be a good place to start.
Mansal Denton, Nootropedia Editor
History of Gotu Kola
Unlike other plant medicines to come from Asia, gotu kola was not used by only one culture. The traditional Chinese medicinal approach uses gotu kola as does Ayurvedic medicine. Even the Japanese islands used the plant calling it “tsobokusa” .
The Ayurvedic traditions have used gotu kola most significantly, which is why there is confusion between bacopa monnieri. Often referred to as “tulsi”, it is challenging to distinguish what ancient texts are referring to. Nonetheless, grouping them together suggests how useful traditional users found them to be.
Benefits of Gotu Kola
Gotu kola is most useful as a cognitive enhancer and primarily for neuronal growth (neurogenesis) benefits. According to a 2000 study, gotu kola can increase the growth of new neurons through several pathways including BDNF and NGF .
Although scientists once believed humans could not grow new brain cells later in life, studies on gotu kola have suggested it is a powerful tool for enhancing neurogenesis for both youth and adults .
Protection from toxins is another benefit of gotu kola . Several studies introduced chemicals (toxins) to animal models to see whether gotu kola could prevent neurological decline with positive results (even in Parkinson’s models) .
Another common reason to use gotu kola is for anxiety treatments. In numerous animal models, usage of gotu kola helped decrease hormones associated with stress (cortisol) . Human trials show self-reported reductions in anxiety by 12 – 23% and depression by 10 – 21.8% .
While neither of these cross the commonly observed threshold for the placebo effect (30%), it is still useful for users nonetheless.
Gotu Kola Side Effects
Just because a nootropic or compound is natural doesn’t mean that it is free from side effects. There is limited evidence on the gotu kola side effects, but preliminary research suggests even high doses are safe in animal models .
A couple of case studies point to potential liver damage in women though there is not enough evidence to draw a direct correlation and all were treated successfully . There is also evidence it could be damaging to the testes (and testosterone production) .
There are also a few positive gotu kola side effects including increased collagen synthesis and skin health. Some women use the supplement specifically for that purpose (either orally or topically).
Gotu Kola Dosage
The main psychoactive ingredient in gotu kola are saponins so it is useful to standardize the product you take before using a specific dosage recommendation. Some are more potent extracts than others.
For cognitive enhancement, the gotu kola dosage will also be different for the other purposes. A good rule of thumb is as follows:
- 500 mg gotu kola x 2 per day (anxiety treatment)
- 1000 mg – 3000 mg overall plant extract per day
Most of these doses are somewhat speculative as the research is primarily completed in animal models as opposed to humans. Starting at the lower end of the range and working your way up would be the best way to find a gotu kola dosage that works specifically for you and achieves the goals you are looking for without succumbing to side effects of a new compound.
How and Where to Buy Gotu Kola
Despite a long history as an Ayurvedic compound, you may not find gotu kola for sale at a local health food store. The supplement may or may not be at a brick and mortar store, but one risk is for certain: heavy metals.
Numerous brands and extraction methods can create products with higher levels of heavy metals and increase the risks associated with this nootropic. To avoid these risks, it is best to go with a reputable vendor and gotu kola supplement.
One reputable brand where you can buy gotu kola is Banyan Botanicals. Based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico, this brand was founded by Ayurvedic-educated members and seem to have proper systems in place to ensure a safe product. The product we have linked is a powder, which should be more affordable and no worse of an experience. Gotu kola is known to be relatively flavorless and odorless.
Gotu Kola Reviews
Anecdotal gotu kola reviews online are useful, but should be taken with a grain of salt. When reading the different reviews of gotu kola, keep in mind that there are many interactions and experiences being shared. They can help to take precautions and find a valuable product, but they may not be the only evidence to consider.
It is far better to take gotu kola reviews and combine them with your understanding of the scientific literature on the nootropic. Now that you have a basic overview of the research, here are some of the experiences people have shared.
Selected Community Experiences
“Stuff I should not be remembering or even thinking about come into my head when using Gotu Kola…I thought this memory was deleted from my brain since it was 23 years ago, thanks to gotu kola I am able to relive it. Thanks Gotu Kola.”  – FromThatOtherPlace
“I just started taking a 8% Gotu Kola extract. Not too impressed thus far. It feels like a wildly less consistent version of bacopa…”  – Verrifitting
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