It seems like every day there’s a new product or ingredient being touted as the all-purpose cure for anti-aging.
But, more often than not, it’s not necessarily a “new” product.
In gotu kola’s case, it’s a very old one.
But, if you’ve read my blog before, you know I like to take new skincare trends with a grain of salt.
Or, more realistically, I like to research new skincare trends and share all of my findings with you so that you can make an educated decision of whether the latest skincare trend is right for you and your routine — plus, how to use it!
Let’s jump right into gotu kola!
What Is Gotu Kola?
To put it simply, gotu kola is a plant that’s been around since ancient times.
It primarily grows in marshy, wetland areas in Asia, India, Sri Lanka, the South Pacific, and South Africa.
Its leaves resemble a spade.
Gotu kola is a member of the parsley and carrot family, and it doesn’t really have a taste or smell to it.
Just like carrot and parsley, gotu kola is naturally rich in many great vitamins and minerals such as amino acids, beta-carotene, fatty acids, and many potent phytochemicals.
So, what was it used for in the ancient times, and why is it being repopularized now? Keep reading to find out!
What Is the History of Gotu Kola?
Don’t take it lightly when I say that gotu kola has been around since the ancient times.
When I say ancient, I mean ancient.
There’s even evidence that gotu kola may have been used by the earliest humans in the prehistoric times.
Gotu kola (which is the Chinese name for the plant), is even listed in ancient Chinese writings as being one of the “miracle elixirs of life.”
Chinese legend says that the plant was one sage’s key to living past 200 years old.
But China, who incorporated the herb heavily in their tai chi way of living, wasn’t the only ancient dynasty who touted the benefits of gotu kola.
In India, where it’s known as manukparni, jalbrahmi, or simply brahmi, it has been used to treat wounds, skin disorders such as eczema and psoriasis, lupus, and more.
In England, where it’s known as pennywort, gotu kola was used as one of the earliest treatments for leprosy.
In France, the herb was formally identified as a pharmaceutical in the 1800s where it was used to treat dysentery and even fertility issues in women.
Today — at least, before its recent boom in the skincare industry — it’s primarily taken in a tea bag or in another beverage.
You can also find it in capsule form.
Some people take it to help curb symptoms of fever, hepatitis, or mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
Others simply sip on the plant for the alleged benefits of a memory boost and anti-aging properties.
Today, scientists are still experimenting with the benefits of gotu kola and trying to find out more about what the plant can do for us.
Some of their findings and experiments include gotu kola’s beneficial treatment for burns, wounds, scar prevention, psoriasis, stretch marks, and varicose veins.
Not only have they found that gotu kola can help with these matters, they’re figuring out exactly how gotu kola helps with these matters.
How Can Gotu Kola Help My Skin?
Now that you know how gotu kola can benefit your body (and even your brain), it’s time to talk about how gotu kola can benefit your skin!
Gotu kola’s main skincare benefits are its ability to stimulate collagen production and decrease inflammation — two major skincare concerns for me and most women I know — especially as we get older.
Collagen production is one of the keys to anti-aging.
Collagen makes up 80% of your skin and is mostly found in the middle layer of your skin — called the dermis.
In combination with another protein in your skin — elastin — collagen works to keep your skin able to bounce back after being stretched or pulled.
Unfortunately, collagen slows in production as we get older.
For most of us, the equilibrium shifts by the time we turn 25.
At that point, we’re officially using more collagen then our body can produce from there on out.
This leads to sagging skin, dullness, wrinkles, and fine lines.
Now, back to gotu kola and that second key benefit: decreasing inflammation.
On top of that, there’s the puffiness and the breakouts that also creep up.
If you’ve never suffered from any of these side effects, you’re one lucky lady!
For the rest of us, I’m sure you can understand why gotu kola’s ability to decrease inflammation is a huge perk!
Gotu kola has also been known to soothe itchiness, strengthen skin, improve circulation, and promote skin recovery (which explains why doctors have been studying its effects on burns, as I mentioned earlier).
By improving your circulation, gotu kola directly speeds up the body’s healing process, which is why it’s been known as a wonder plant when it comes to acne scars and more.
Another effect of the improved circulation can mean longer and stronger hair — since better circulation means oxygen and nutrients will be delivered more effectively to the scalp.
For this reason, lots of people love gotu kola’s benefits on their hair and nails as well.
How Is Gotu Kola Used In Skincare?
You can most commonly find gotu kola in moisturizers and serums, particularly ones formulated for anti-aging.
I chose to include it in my Hyaluronic Moisture Boost Serum!
Due to its recent resurgence in popularity, you can pretty much find gotu kola in anything from sheet masks to exfoliators these days.
In fact, one spa in Tulsa even offers a gotu kola body wrap!
Remember when we learned all about body wraps?
If you’re interested in incorporating gotu kola in your routine, I recommend starting with a hydrating serum (like mine) or moisturizer.
The body wraps might be nice, but probably not as beneficial for long-term results.
Remember, for real results, you need to be consistent!
Are There Any Warnings to Heed Regarding Gotu Kola?
There aren’t any known side effects or things to watch out for when it comes to gotu kola — at least, assuming you’re applying it topically.
If you are interested in gotu kola supplements or ingesting it orally through a beverage, make sure you talk to your doctor first.
Although it’s a natural plant, there can be some side effects when ingested daily.
As for topical application, I always recommend doing a 24-hour, small skin test before trying a new product or ingredient — sometimes allergies can creep up on you and pop out of nowhere!
If you start using a gotu kola product and notice redness, itchiness, or other side effects, stop using it.
You could potentially have an allergy or gotu kola may be reacting with something else you put on your skin.
In addition, there’s something else I always recommend watching out for with trendy products: make sure what you’re buying is real.
Since the beauty industry isn’t heavily regulated by the FDA, it can be tough to know if you’re getting authentic gotu kola in whatever product you’re purchasing.
I always recommend only purchasing products from trusted sellers and trusted brands, and always check reviews!
If there are any ingredients you don’t recognize on the label or any artificial flavors or scents, you can do without it!
Your skin deserves the best.
Can I Use Pure Gotu Kola?
While most traditional beauty stores will only carry gotu kola in their products, you may notice that you can buy a small bottle of gotu kola oil on Amazon or perhaps at your local pharmacy.
You may be wondering, “Instead of buying a fancy skincare product, can’t I just rub some pure gotu kola oil on my face as part of my nightly routine?”
Because of the nature of gotu kola and the relaxed regulations on the skincare and supplement industry, it’s very difficult to know if that bottle of gotu kola oil is really pure gotu kola.
More likely, it’s a small amount of gotu kola mixed with another oil — be it olive oil or an essential oil.
My inclination is to steer clear of a diluted gotu kola oil and instead use a product in which gotu kola is blended with other beneficial ingredients for your face.
That being said, if you can be certain that you’ve found pure gotu kola, there’s no real reason not to use it on your face or skin as is — just know it might be a little strong and oily!
While there’s no such thing as skincare magic, I personally think gotu kola comes pretty darn close.
It nips many of our most common skincare issues in the bud!
However, like any ingredient or product, one size does not fit all for skincare.
If you want to try incorporating gotu kola in your own routine, I recommend starting with baby steps (and test patches) to see if it meshes well for your skin and gives you the results you desire.
And if it’s not your favorite? There are plenty of other collagen-filled, anti-aging products for you to try instead!
Have you ever tried using gotu kola? What did you think? Better yet, if you check your medicine cabinet, do you already have products with gotu kola? Let me know in the comments below!