By Rachelle Robinett
Adriana Ayales is a rainforest herbalist from Costa Rica and founder of Anima Mundi Herbals. She learned about mystical healing traditions through her grandmothers and other shamanic teachers from a young age, and is dedicated to preserving this ancient tribal knowledge through botany. She lives between New York and Costa Rica, crafting rainforest tonics and elixirs at the recently opened Anima Mundi Apothecary in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.
Adriana highlights one of nature's most impressive brain supplements in this interview with The Alchemist's Kitchen.
What are the medicinal properties of Gotu Kola that improve brain health?
Gotu Kola, Centella asiatica, is one of my favorite herbs out there. It’s known to increase brain health by supporting upper-body circulation and oxygenating brain tissue. Gotu Kola is also used to rejuvenate skin and body tissue stimulating collagen synthesis. It’s primary pharmacological aspect is its triterpenoids, which have been shown to exert a potent longevity plan of action to cells, tissues - particularly connective tissues, aiding in healing process and wounds (internal and external.)
Gotu Kola is also a master herb with potent anti-inflammatory qualities and anti-oxidant power. It facilities the carrying of anti-oxidants like Vitamin C and E to areas of the body where there may be damage.
Where does Gotu Kola grow?
Gotu Kola grows primarily in the rainforest. Ayurveda and Central and South American rainforest tribes have the most recorded use of Gotu Kola on the plant. These cultures use it mostly as a food, usually eating it raw and unprocessed, as well as using it in salves and poultices for wounds or skin repair.
What are the traditional uses of Gotu Kola for brain function?
Particularly for brain function, the best-known form of Gotu Kola is an extract or a decoction (simmering in water for 15-20 minutes). By extracting it in alcohol or vegetable glycerin, you get the entire range of alkaloids, anti-oxidants and triterpenoids. The recommended intake is then 2-3 times per day before meals, either as an extract or decocted tea for optimum results.
What is your personal experience with Gotu Kola and neurological health?
I work long hours on the computer writing, and feeling the difference in how my body manages eye and mind stress with or without the Gotu Kola is mindblowing. My eyes are particularly sensitive to screens and bright light, which can be seen as a deficiency in essential fatty acids, yet with the help of EFA’s and Gotu Kola, I’ve had no issues.
How can we integrate Gotu Kola into a diet or lifestyle?
My favorite is to make an herbal cocktail to start the day. I add 1 tsp of Gotu Kola extract to raw coconut water along with ½ tsp of EFA oil (high quality cold pressed flax seed, fish oil, borage seed oil) and shake it up. It’s a delicious morning mix that will flush you with energy, uplift the kidneys, and prepare your digestive system for the day.
Are you familiar with any spiritual uses of Gotu Kola?
Gotu Kola is considered one of the most spiritual and rejuvenating herbs in Ayurveda and is used to improve meditation. It’s also said to develop the crown chakra (the energy center at the top of the head) and to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is also said to resemble.
Does Gotu Kola have any other history or folklore that people should know about?
Gotu Kola got the nickname “tiger's herb” because injured tigers often rub themselves against it to heal their wounds. Gotu Kola is present in both Chinese and Indian myths and folklore.
Can you tell us a little about CEREBRUM, the Gotu Kola brain tonic that you make at Anima Mundi Herbals?
CEREBRUM is a therapeutic and deeply nourishing brain formula. It brings circulation to brain tissue, enhances clarity, regulates hypothalamic response, and boosts pituitary function. By naturally uplifting the body, it acts as a mild energizer – enhancing clarity and memory, and regulating the nervous system.
The herbs in this formula have been extensively studied for their ability to stimulate nerve growth factor (NFG) which inhibits brain dysfunction associated with potential neurological diseases. CEREBRUM relieves a depressed system caused from over-stressed and under-nurtured patterning by creating a deep adaptogenic platform for regeneration.
Along with Gotu Kola, CEREBRUM Brain Tonic also includes Lions Mane (Hericium erinaceus), Tulsi (Ocimum tenuiflorum), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri) and Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) essential oil.
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