Aging. Some welcome it with grace and confidence; others build an arsenal to fight off its advances. Whether you belong to the former or the latter, we can all agree on one thing: we can do without the wrinkles, fine lines and sagging skin. Lucky for us, an unassuming little plant found in the wetlands of Asia and Africa may just be the closest we’ll ever get to the fountain of youth. Gotu kola—prized since ancient times by Daoist masters, monks and yogis for its cognitive and spiritual benefits—is fast becoming a favorite in modern medicine and skin care for its healing abilities and anti-aging properties.
Also known by its scientific name centella asiatica or commonly as pennywort, gotu kola is best known in the ancient world for its health benefits (improves brain function, eases anxiety, treats infections and is revered as an herb of longevity, among others). Today, it’s one of the most common ingredients in skin care products, thanks to is potent combination of amino acids, beta carotene, fatty acids and phytochemicals—everything the skin needs to fight off the signs of aging and to protect itself from environmental stressors.
Gotu kola is rich in triternene saponins—a compound that helps keep skin tighter and firmer—and is also a great source of phytonutrients called flavonoids that act as antioxidants and fight off free radical damage. It boosts the formation of collagen and skin tissue, which is crucial in maintaining the skin’s elasticity and youthful glow. Another benefit that gotu kola is most known for is its ability to improve blood circulation. This speeds up the skin’s healing process (goodbye, pimple scars and blemishes!) and makes it effective in treating varicose veins, broken capillaries and stubborn cellulite. This also helps hair loss problems as better circulation means improved delivery of nutrients and oxygen to the scalp. Because of its potent health and skin care properties, gotu kola is often featured as a key ingredient in serums, eye creams and beauty oils. It can also be consumed as tea or taken as a food supplement.
Now who needs that mythical fountain when gotu kola’s wealth of benefits are right at our fingertips? Here’s a list of our favorite products that harness the power of this miracle herb!