Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola
By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

Another Eastern historical Nootropic, best used in combination with Bacopa. It's a medium-term Biohack that after a few weeks of dosing enhances cognition, attention, and memory along with an anti-anxiety effect that imbues a modicum of spiritual enlightenment.

Scientific Research
Traditional Medicine
Nervine Tonic
Cognition Enhancer
Vs Anxiety
Alertness vs Attention
A Bacopa Cofactor
Effect on Mood
Working Memory
Memory and Learning

Vs Benzo Withdrawal
Mechanism of Action
Biohacker Review
Vs Male Vitality
Safe During Pregnancy
Usage and Dosage
Side Effects
Gotu Kola Videos 

This article is mostly going to focus on decoding what the human studies are saying about Gotu Kola and how this squares up with the anecdotal experiences of Biohackers online. For more of my own personal experiences, thoughts, and comparisons please see the written and video reviews in the sidebar.

 Scientific Research

book AdaptogensIt's been studied worldwide and has been the subject of 15 articles of human research that can be found on Pubmed.

From the book Adaptogens:
In clinical practice, gotu kola can be used for people with poor memory, head trauma injuries, anxiety, mental fatigue, and irritability. In animal studies, gotu kola has been shown to promote nerve development and has shown some mild adaptogenic effects by preventing the increase of cortisol and adrenaline levels.
(p. 227)

 Traditional Medicine

From an exhaustive 2010 pharmacological review of Gotu Kola published by researchers at Nima University in India has been used as a medicine in the Ayurvedic tradition of India for thousands of years and listed in the historic ‘Sushruta Samhita’, an ancient Indian medical text...
The herb is also used by the people of Java and other Indonesian islands. In China, known as gotu kola, it is one of the reported “miracle elixirs of life” known over 2000 years ago

It can be found in

...India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, and South Africa and South pacific and Eastern Europe.

The plant was originally confused with the Kola plant which contains caffeine and was used in Coca-Cola, Gotu Kola does not contain caffeine and is not a stimulant.
Li Ching-YuenIt was a favorite of the legendary herbalist Li Ching-Yuen who claimed to have lived over 250 years. To quote the (cleverly self-promotional) old man himself...

"I think the reason that I have lived this long and am still perpetually healthy is because nothing has irritated me since I was 40 years old. Because of that, my heart is very calm, peaceful and divinely tranquil. That is why I am free from any illness, and always healthy and happy."

 Nervine Tonic

According to the Indian review:

[Centella asiatica] was described to possess [central nervous system] effects in Indian literature such as stimulatory-nervine tonic, rejuvenant, sedative, tranquilizer and intelligence promoting property

 Cognition Enhancer

From a gold-standard double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized 2008 Thai study:

Centella asiatica has a reputation to restore decline cognitive function in traditional medicine and in animal model.
Cognitive performance was assessed using the computerized test battery and event-related potential whereas mood was assessed using Bond-Lader visual analogue scales prior to the trial and after single, 1 and 2 months after treatment.
The results showed that the high dose of the plant extract enhanced working memory and increased N100 component amplitude of event-related potential. Improvements of self-rated mood were also found following the Centella asiatica treatment.
...the present findings suggest the potential of Centella asiatica to attenuate the age-related decline in cognitive function and mood disorder in the healthy elderly.

A follow-up study from the same University was published in 2011 in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine:

Based on its reputation to improve both psychological and physical performances, and its antioxidant properties, the hypothesis that C. asiatica extract would have a positive effect on the physical strength and health-related quality of life, for the healthy elderly, was properly focused.

From the Indian review:

[Gotu Kola] is known to re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration and combat aging...
In the study, after 2 months, cognitive function (as assessed by event-related potential and the computerized assessment battery test) and mood (using Bond-Lader visual analogue) was determined. The greatest improvements in mood and cognitive function were detected in those receiving the 750 mg dose of [Gotu Kola] extract.

To quote a Biohacker on Longecity:

I usually take it once a day, I find that to be enough. Biggest effect I notice from it is more energy, a flushed/healthy looking face and much less anxiety. I generally feel sharper as well.

 Vs Anxiety

From a 2010 double-blind, clinical study done at the Ayurvedic Medical College in Kolkata, India that gave 1000 milligrams daily to 33 adults with generalized anxiety disorder:

The present investigation was undertaken to evaluate the role of 70% hydro-ethanolic extract of Centella asiatica (CA) on generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in man...
The observations revealed that, [Centella asiatica] not only significantly (p<0.01) attenuated anxiety related disorders but it also significantly (p<0.01) reduced stress phenomenon and its correlated depression. [Centella asiatica] further significantly (p<0.01) improved the willingness for adjustment and cognition.
Results indicated that Centella asiatica may be useful in the treatment of [generalized anxiety disorder] and may be used as a promising anxiolytic agent in near future.

However, this is not exactly a gold standard study; it wasn't placebo-controlled and it came out of an Ayurvedic school, so there's likely some bias inherent.

From the Indian review:

Asian [Gotu Kola] increases the cerebral levels of GABA, which explains its traditional use as anxiolytic and anticonvulsant...
Also the purported anxiolytic activity of [Gotu Kola] is intriguing in view of the proposed involvement of cholecystokinin (CCK) in the pathophysiology of fear and anxiety.

Interestingly, animal studies suggest that Gotu Kola at higher dosages is an alternative to the pharmaceutical drug diazepam thanks to its anxiolytic effect.

 Alertness vs Attention

Interestingly it lowers alertness and reaction times while paradoxically improving attention.

A Canadian placebo-controlled study measured startle response, by giving otherwise healthy adults a relatively high dose of 12 grams of Gotu Kola. From the study

The results revealed that compared with placebo, Gotu Kola significantly attenuated the peak [acoustic startle response] amplitude 30 and 60 minutes after treatment.

What it's saying is that it actually decreased the sensitivity to the startle response. People were less startled by random loud noises. So it would maybe make you less jumpy while watching a scary movie, but at the same time, it might not be a great Nootropic for someone who relied on their split-second reactions, like...

  • Racecar drivers
  • UFC fighters
  • Rodeo cowboys

But it's also been demonstrated as a medium-term biohack that increases attention after dosing 1 gram for between 30-60 days.
These two findings might seem to be a little contradictory, but they underly an important point about personality and productivity.
For many personalities, alertness works against our productivity and happiness. In our high stimulus world, peak alertness to everything means our attention will frenetically jump from...

  • Smartphone notifications
  • To checking social media
  • To a sexy advertisement that appears on television
  • To worrying about an unpaid bill

...And we will end up getting nothing done and will be quite unhappy about it.
Many will actually end up being happier if their alertness is a little dulled, they'll find it easier to focus on the work, book, or person in front of them. However, if you are a person with strong focus skills (either naturally or ingrained with a mindfulness practice) you'll probably find Gotu Kola less effective as a Nootropic, I'd wager.


A double-blind, placebo-controlled 2010 Israeli study treated 120 ADHD children with an herbal stack combining Gotu Kola, Ashwagandha, Bacopa Monnieri, and Lemon Balm along with some other herbs. From the abstract of the 4-month study:

The treatment group showed substantial, statistically significant improvement in the 4 subscales and overall [Test of Variables of Attention] scores, compared with no improvement in the control group, which persisted in an intention-to-treat analysis...
The well-tolerated [compound herbal preparation] demonstrated improved attention, cognition, and impulse control in the intervention group, indicating promise for ADHD treatment in children.

 A Bacopa Cofactor

It shares the name Brahmi with Bacopa because the two together are such a beloved herbal combination.

Many traditional medicine men along with modern-day Biohackers regard this as a stack that enables spiritual enlightenment.
To ground this, in reality, consider the non-metaphysical definition of spirituality that I came up with in my review of Waking Up:

Seeking to understand our minds, the nature of self and our relation to the world more deeply by way of reaching for extraordinary states of consciousness.

  • Gotu Kola and Bacopa enable this state of relaxed focus. We can overcome fleeting distractions to come to a deeper understanding of things.
  • The anxiolytic effect of the Adaptogens allows you to get out of your own head somewhat and not believe everything that you might think. So that we think more objectively about ourselves and our place in the world.
  • Nootropics turn on an altered state of consciousness.

A Redditor, well-acquainted with both herbs, had this insight... 

I've worked with both Gotu Kola and Brahmi for years, mostly as a nootropic support for deeper adaptogenic work. Both 'Brahmi' herbs (Centella asiatica and Bacopa monnieri) are considered superior sattvic rasayana (tonic herbs of goodness) allies in classic Ayurveda and Def pack the nootropic lift buuuuuuut if the constitutional fit isn't right, the effects can lead in the opposite desired direction. Ayurveda and other trads of plant medicine work a constitutional/energetic model that ensures the right herb goes into the right type of person based on their physical makeup, temperament, spirit, personality, etc. We tend to fetishize exotic, biohacking, and inebriating herbs here in the west and take them out of their indigenous context and so the results are usually a mixed bag. All the hype, none of the traditional use that brings the hype to fruition.

With Bacopa m. specifically, folks of an airy or dry temperament in the western humor might find them aggravating and scattering- even anxiety-provoking when. Earth types can get a lift in one direction and depression in another so the formulation is key. Fire types tend to love the way the cool energetics feel but often need some supportive adaptogen work to really see the magic that gets spoken of online. Water types are usually not a great fit for Bacopa and do better with dryer, more bitter alkaloid containing nootropics.

If you can get Bacopa dialed in with the right supportive/harmonizing herbs it's a pretty magical experience. 10/10! 🐘🌿

 Effect on Mood

A double-blind, placebo-controlled 2010 Canadian study concluded that while it's an effective anxiolytic, it doesn't help mood.

Gotu Kola had no significant effect on self-rated mood, heart rate, or blood pressure. These preliminary findings suggest that Gotu Kola has anxiolytic activity in humans as revealed by the [acoustic startle response]. It remains to be seen whether this herb has therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of anxiety syndromes.

However, the Canadian study was done on a relatively small sample size over a short period, so take its conclusions with a grain of maple syrup.

Another double-blind study reached a different conclusion...

Improvements of self-rated mood were also found following the Centella asiatica treatment.

However, this study was done with an elderly group of people, whereas the Canadian study was done with otherwise healthy young people.
If you're looking for a Nootropic to hack your mood I would recommend Rhodiola, 5-HTP, liquid Nicotine, or Phenibut much higher than Gotu Kola.

 Working Memory

There's evidence that Gotu Kola aids your short-term working memory.
Working memory is frequently alluded to as the 'scratchpad' of the mind, a temporary repository for your memories, experiences, newly acquired skill sets, and of course a place for brainstorming and finding solutions.
If you think of your mind as a computer (which is a pretty accurate metaphor) your working memory is the RAM.

From a 2008 double-blind study of 28 elderly Thais:

The results showed that the high dose of the plant extract enhanced working memory and increased N100 component amplitude of event-related potential.

 Memory and Learning

Gotu Kola has a reputation as a memory-enhancing herb but the scientific evidence of its helpful effect in that regard is a bit thin. Limited to in vitro or animal studies.


From the Indian review:

The antidepressant effects of total triterpenes from [Gotu Kola] on the immobility time in forced swimming mice and concentration of amino acid in mice brain tissue was observed.


The findings suggested the potential of aqueous [Gotu Kola extracts] as adjuvant to antiepileptic drugs with an added advantage of preventing cognitive impairment.


Previous studies have suggested that [Gotu Kola] could be useful in preventing radiation-induced behavioural changes during clinical radiotherapy


The present review is indicative of multiple useful clinical effects of Centella asiatica especially in the age-related cognitive decline...
A favourable improvement is observed in depression and other age related conditions like Hypertension, peripheral neuritis, insomnia, loss of appetite, constipation indicative of multiple useful clinical effects of [Gotu Kola] especially in the age-related cognitive decline in elderly...
Another current study assessed the antioxidant property in elderly subjects and confirmed the beneficial effects of [Gotu Kola extract] (at doses of 500 and 750 mg per day) in elderly patients for 90 days, where, the [Gotu Kola extract] improved the strength especially in the lower extremities of the elderly... The study also proved the role of [Gotu Kola extract] as a natural resource for vigor and strength increase, in healthy elderly persons.

 Vs Benzo Withdrawal

Apparently, Gotu Kola provides some relief for those suffering from benzodiazepine
withdrawal. However, this is actually counter-intuitive to the goals of the addict as ScienceGuy on Longecity clarified:

GOTU KOLA is a GABA RECEPTOR AGONIST it will prolong your withdrawal and recovery from BENZODIAZEPINES and hence should be avoided. The reason you felt good and relief is because the GOTU KOLA would have been hitting your GABA RECEPTORS...

An American undergoing a lengthy withdrawal confirmed this

"Gotu kola gave me profound relief, but afterward my symptoms worsened. I believe that my sporadic use of gotu kola, holy basil, and other GABA-A agonists prolonged the overall process of withdrawing. They would clear up obsessive/fearful/repetitive thinking for a couple days, only to plunge me into a worsened schizoid state of mind after wearing off."


According to research out of Seoul National University in Korea

These results showed that these derivatives of asiatic acid exerted significant neuroprotective effects on cultured cortical cells by their potentiation of the cellular oxidative defense mechanism. Therefore, these agents may prove to be efficacious in protecting neurons from the oxidative damage caused by exposure to excess glutamate.

 Mechanism of Action

It's similar to a lot of other herbal Nootropics in that it includes a bunch of different beneficial compounds:

  • Asiatic acid
  • Triterpenoids
  • Saponins
  • Madecassic acid
  • Madasiatic acid
  • Glycosides
  • Brahminoside
  • Rosmarinic acid
  • Ginsenosides
  • Apigenin
  • Rutin
  • Vitamin C
  • Anthocyanins

Its mechanisms include

 Biohacker Review

Finnish Biohacker reported:

Gotu Kola is a wonderful herb. I've been using it time-to-time since 2012. It provides anxiolysis, almost comparable to a benzodiazepine, yet it keeps your mind sharp. The most useful quality for me was this herb's ability to provide positive outlook - I mean it's almost impossible to not feel positive when taking it. I played poker in quite high stakes back in 2013, and we poker players are prone to "tilt", meaning that for example when facing extremely bad luck it leads to frustration and the poker player starts playing impulsively or otherwise non-optimally. Gotu Kola prevents that, so in a sense it can give the player an extra edge.

Gotu Kola is also good if one likes to have some fun with recreational substances. It soothes out alcohol hangovers, helps with rebound anxiety from Phenibut if it's taken too often and Gotu is even used for opium detox in Thailand.

It's beneficial for social anxiety too, an actual shyness-killer for some. Approach anxiety is significantly lessened in my experience.

Tolerance slooowly developes eventually, takes many months. I've read someone had been taking it for over a year and the therapeutic effects still had remained.

Now this may start to sound like some wonder herb, which it can be, but some do not experience much effect from it... so it's definitely worth a try to just about anyone.


A Thai Longecity user makes a good point:

It does grows in moist places, along canals and ditches (as well as mountain streams and even on lawns provided the atmospheric and soil conditions are right), and it is like an environmental cleaner, as it soaks up pathogens and heavy metals, which do end up in the plant.

But such concerns are not valid with organically grown gotu kola. Of course, given the lack of regulation of the supplement industry, even a claim from a brand to be organic may not necessarily withstand scrutiny, since there is so little such scrutiny actually performed, and many herbs are bought in bulk from India and China where business is unregulated and the desire to make a quick buck is huge.

So I would advice caution, unless you have good knowledge of the ultimate source. If you're in the right climate zone, grow your own like I do!

Gotu Kola powderThis is why I recommend getting your Gotu Kola from a source that provides...

  • Certificate of Analysis
  • Heavy Metals and Minerals Report
  • Microbiological Reports

The best value source I've been able to find is Bulk Supplements.

Downloadable Gotu Kola?

You may be interested in taking it as an infoceutical - a non-pharmacological, side-effect-free version of the supplement that takes advantage of the phenomenon of water memory - which is imprinted on water via quantum collocation and electromagnetism using this device...

Infocueticals typically have 1/3 or half the effect of the actual medicine being imprinted. If you're skeptical of Infopathy that's understandable, it's a game-changing application of a little-known scientific phenomenon. But I'd urge you to evaluate the scientific evidence (presented in my biohacker review) that downloadable medicine is no longer science fiction...

 Vs Male Vitality

A 2012 Iranian study has (perhaps) a little bit of bad news about Gotu Kola for men. In this animal study, it lowered serum testosterone and sperm count. From the study:

It is concluded that Centella asiatica has toxicological effects on the reproductive system in male rats and, therefore, it is suggested that leaf extracts of Centella asiatica possess antifertility effects in the male rat.

 Safe During Pregnancy

A placebo-controlled study of 100 pregnant women compared application of a cream containing a [Gotu Kola extract], vitamin E (alpha tocopherol), and collagen-elastin hydrolysates to placebo... Application of the compounded cream was associated with fewer women developing stretch marks than in placebo.

 Usage and Dosage

Use it two to three times daily. It has a dosage half-life of 2 - 4.5 hours.

As a drinkFrom the book Adaptogens:

Fresh gotu kola leaves are sold in markets in Thailand as a stimulant and afternoon “pick-me-up.” A drink called water pennywort juice, made with gotu kola juice, sugar, and water, also is used to enhance energy and concentration.
(p. 227)

From the Indian review

The use of [Gotu Kola] for more than 6 weeks is not recommended in the literature. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to 6 weeks) should take a 2-week break before taking the herb again.

Recommended Daily

  • 500 milligrams to Reduce Anxiety
  • 750 milligrams to enhance Mood
  • 1200 milligrams to Working Memory

In human studies, it's been used in dosages as high as 12 grams.



The traditional medicinal wisdom most thorough studies and enthusiastic Biohacker reports recommend it with Bacopa. From the book Adaptogens:

The first, neurofort tea blend, combined nervines such as skullcap, blue vervain, St. John’s wort, chamomile, and fresh milky oat with nootropic and inflammatory herbs such as rosemary and gotu kola.
(p. 240)

If you're going to use Gotu Kola I strongly recommend also picking up 30 grams of COA-verified powdered Bacopa for $30, which is a 3-month supply.

Vitamin E
A 2013 Universiti Putra Malaysia in vitro study noted an Antioxidant synergism between the two.

 Side Effects

A human study and an animal study administered Gotu Kola in quite high doses and no toxicity or negative effects were observed. It would seem that this is a Nootropic that you can safely mega dose if you want.

From the Indian review:

[Gotu kola] has no known toxicity in recommended doses. Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations (with external use), headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness which tend to occur with high doses of the herb.
Use gotu kola cautiously during pregnancy. In high doses, it can cause headaches and palpitations. In sensitive people, the fresh leaf may cause contact dermatitis (skin rash).
(p. 227)

To quote a Thai Biohacker:

Here in Thailand, many people drink freshly blended gotu kola juice daily, the dried leaves are used as a herbal tea, and it is sometimes eaten as a side vegetable...
Last year I used it daily (about 3 glasses daily of freshly blended juice) for four months straight. I've not experienced any indications that it would cause physiological or psychological dependence. There was no come-down, nor any negative effects from quitting. Any tendencies toward addiction would have been observed long ago given the plant's long term use in traditional medicine.

Conflicts: Gotu kola may increase the effects of barbiturates, sedatives, and analgesics.
(p. 227)

"There have been no reports documenting negative interactions between [Gotu Kola] and medications to date. Since high doses of [Gotu Kola] can cause sedation, it was warned that individuals should refrain from taking this herb with medications that promote sleep or reduce anxiety"

There is a possible negative interaction with lymecycline.


It seems to me to be a general-purpose Nootropic that aids the domains of performance enhancement that concern Biohackers...

  • Cognition
  • Mood
  • Immunity
  • Long term memory
  • Working memory
  • Stress response

However, in none of these dimensions does it really shine or would I call it a best-in-class Nootropic. If people want to use Gotu Kola, do so in the way it has been consumed since time immemorial, as Brahmi, in combination with Bacopa.


Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola Extract


Gotu Kola: The Adaptogenic Bacopa Cofactor for Spiritual Enlightenment
Gotu Kola: The Adaptogenic Bacopa Cofactor for Spiritual Enlightenment


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