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Smartdrug for students? Read all about scientific research on brain elixir hydrocotyle
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In this blog item What is hydrocotyle?OriginAll the properties needed to function well as a studentMood enhancerImproves memorySkin CareHow is hydrocotyle used?Multiple health benefits How do you make tea from hydrocotyle?Is there a difference between gotu kola and kola nut?Hydrocotyle and the liver

Smartdrug for students? Read all about scientific research on brain elixir hydrocotyle

I take you into the world of Asiatic pennywort, or hydrocotyle. This little plant is currently being researched by scientists and is proving promising in treating depression, among other things, as well as stimulating a healthier and more active brain. Want to learn all about this medicinal herb, also known as gotu kola? Then read on quickly and find out what the latest scientific studies show. 

What is hydrocotyle?

The Latin name is Centella asiatica. Other common names are gotu kola, Asiatic pennywort, and Indian pennywort. Through scientific research we know that the plant contains several interesting active substances that have a positive effect on cognitive functions, such as our memory and how alert we are. Hydrocotyle also contains substances that are very healthy for the skin. There are therefore numerous skin care products with ingredients from this herb. 


The plant originally grows in Southeast Asia, including China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Malaysia. In these regions it has been used as a medicine for thousands of years. Within Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, hydrocotyle is a powerful brain tonic and is used to make the brain fitter, more vital and healthier. 

According to a Chinese legend, a herbalist once lived to be over 200 years old because he regularly took hydrocotyle. Not for nothing is another name for the little plant: the fountain of long life.

Hydrocotyle is used as a traditional medicine for all kinds of diseases and ailments. In China it was the best remedy for a cold.

Originally, C. asiatica prefers to grow in moist, marshy areas. The plant spreads out on the ground and is in this way a ground cover. The root system consists of rhizomes, which grow vertically downwards and are equipped with various small hairs. 

All the properties needed to function well as a student

Hydrocotyle has been shown to have an excellent effect on mood. This study, from 2020, showed the short-term effects of a smoothie with hydrocotyle. A group of young women showed visible improvement in mood and also scored better in tests that indicated alertness and focus. 

It is important to note that for this study the fresh C. asiatica was used. In the Sirius range you can find the dried version, which also has very interesting properties. Also good to know that most research done so far with the plant, is based on long-term effects. Little is known about the short term effects of the plant. 

The compounds that were responsible for the positive effect on mood are pentacyclic triterpenoids. Quite a mouthful for a number of specific compounds including asiaticoside. 

What's interesting about these compounds is that they have been shown to have medicinal properties. There are quite a few, so below is an overview:

Mood enhancer

The research shows that there is a marked improvement in mood and that the compounds have an anti-depressant effect. The reason for this would be the fact that the substances have an influence on the GABA receptors in our brains. People suffering from depression benefit from taking C.asiatica. 

Improves memory

In countries such as India, hydrocotyle has a long history of medicinal use and the plant is considered the best remedy for improving brain functions. Another traditional name for the plant is therefore 'brahmi', derived from the god of wisdom: Brahman. Literally translated this can also mean 'bringer of knowledge of Brahman'. 

Scientific research shows that the active substances of C.asiatica have indeed a positive effect on memory and contribute to a properly functioning brain. For example, this research shows that the plant has a neuroprotective effect

Hydrocotyle helps with conditions related to memory and is prescribed by phytotherapists and homeopathic doctors for such conditions as:

  • Decreased ability to concentrate
  • Memory loss
  • Mental fatigue
  • Helps with anxiety and stress

Very interesting, especially for students: in addition to the mood-enhancing effect and positive influence on the brain, the ingredients of C. asiatica also work against stress. Thus, the plant is used for restlessness, stress and insomnia.

Hydrocotyle has had a reputation as an anti-stress agent for a very long time and various studies show this as well. Research shows that the plant seems promising for the treatment of stress-related disorders, but it also appears to work well as a remedy for generalized anxiety disorder. For this study, 33 people were used and were monitored using intensive questionnaires for 60 days. At the end of the study, the extract of C. asiatica was found to have a positive effect on anxiety problems. In addition, the individuals also suffered less from stress and depressive feelings. This study is not conclusive, but it does show that hydrocotyle is an interesting smartdrug and can be used to naturally treat various conditions. 

Skin Care

Did you know that the compounds in C.asiatica also have a beneficial effect on healing wounds and protecting the skin? There are numerous skin care products where it is part of the ingredient list. 

Hydrocotyle has several beneficial properties to its name when it comes to skin care. For example, the plant can help with:

  • Refreshing and making the skin glow thanks to extra hydration 
  • Helps to repair and care for wounds
  • Nourish the skin by the action of antioxidants
  • Slow down the aging process, combat wrinkles

Furthermore, the use of hydrocotyle is good for treating:

  • Varicose veins
  • Lacerations
  • Damaged skin
  • Burns
  • Cellulite
  • Cracks

Hydrocotyle can also be used for skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema and rheumatic diseases. 

How is hydrocotyle used?

For thousands of years, this medicinal plant has been used by humans as medicine and in a variety of ways. For example, juice is made from the fresh leaves and then drunk. In Asia, the leaves are also added to numerous dishes, such as curries, rice dishes and salads. 

In Bermuda cuisine it is common to use fresh gotu kola in numerous dishes. For example, a salad with onion, peanuts, bean powder and a fish sauce. In Sri Lanka, the plant is frequently used as a vegetable in the kitchen. It is one of the most widely used green leafy vegetables. The plant is added to rice dishes (dal), but also incorporated into smoothies. There is also a kind of variation on porridge, where red rice is cooked for a long time with extra liquid. Furthermore, coconut milk from the first extraction is added to this and a puree of gotu kola. This is where the traditional name gotu kola comes from. 

It is also possible to make tea from the dried leaves. It is recommended to take the plant as a cure, that is, to drink a cup of hydrocotyle tea every day.

Multiple health benefits 

The plant can be used for many other purposes. Below is an overview:

Digestion: for several users, hydrocotyle works favorably on the digestive system and contributes to improved bowel function. Could this be due to the fact that the plant works so well against anxiety and stress? 

How do you make tea from hydrocotyle?

For hydrocotyle the whole plant is used. From the dried plant you can easily make tea. Use one tablespoon per dose and let it steep for a few minutes after adding boiled water. 

Grow your own Gotu Kola?

C. asiatica, also called gotu kola, originally grows in areas of Southeast Asia. Nowadays, however, you can also find the plant in other parts of the world where it is warm. It is even possible to cultivate it yourself. A bonus point of the plant is that you can harvest from its leaves all year round. It is possible to keep the plant in a pot with soil, as long as you water it very regularly. 

In appearance hydrocotyle resembles common ragweed, a creeping medicinal plant that is often found in our regions. Hydrocotyle is a ground cover plant and can grow up to 20 cm high. 

Is there a difference between gotu kola and kola nut?

Sometimes it happens that gotu kola and kola nut are confused with each other. They are two different plants with completely different effects! Yet both are widely used in India. Kola nut contains high doses of caffeine and is related to the cocoa plant. Although the name suggests it, it is not a nut but a fruit. This fruit grows on the tree Cola nitida. Kola nut is a common stimulant in India and is used for increased energy. It helps fight fatigue and also works as a suppressor of hunger. It is also traditional to take a kola nut after dinner, mainly to aid digestion. 

Kola nut is available in the Open Up assortment of Sirius. Try it now!

Hydrocotyle and the liver

Research shows that long-term use of hydrocotyle can have a negative impact on the functioning of the liver. So be careful with this and do not use hydrocotyle for more than 6 weeks in a row. If you have liver problems, it is wise to consult with a doctor first before starting it. 


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