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How can I use herbs in my daily life?

February 7, 2010

Today, we were given a wonderful gift – a book called “How can I use herbs in my daily life?” by Isabell Shipard. John Palmer, our amazing forest spirit friend and ecologist extraordinaire who gave us the book, drops in from time to time to pull out or slash any noxious weeds in our garden and to teach us about edible herbs and weeds growing around us of which there are an abundance. I’m always loathe to pull out or mow any weeds for fear of killing some of the amazing edibles we have in our garden. Slowly I am learning to recognise herbs like Gotu Kola, African lettuce and South American spinach! This book will hopefully help to speed up my learning and to help to educate me on the healing and nutritional plants growing in our garden.

Gotu Kola growing in our garden

Gotu Kola growing in our garden

Gotu Kola grows in our garden in abundance. Shipard’s book (kindly bookmarked on the Gotu Kola page with a Gotu Kola leaf by John) tells me that another name is Pennywort (ah! I know that name!!). John often reminds me to eat Gotu Kola every day. I of course only remember to do that when he is there eating them with me. Now I’ve read Shipard’s entry on this amazing plant, I will endeavour to follow his advice more diligently! She says to start with 2 leaves a day including the stalks and work up to 5 or 6  a day.

Gotu Kola - 2 leaves a day

Gotu Kola - 2 leaves a day

According to Shipard, Gotu Kola contains vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B12, B17, C, D, K and the minerals: calcium, chromium, cobalt, magnesium, managanese, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, selenium, silica, zinc, germanium, iodine.  Gotu Kola is an antipyretic (reduces or quells fever), diuretic, antibacterial, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, sedative, antispasmodic, antioxidant, adaptogenic (increases body’s resistance to stress, trauma, anxiety and fatigue), tonic, digestive, vulnerary (for healing/treating wounds), alterative (causes gradual, beneficial change in the body), nervine, rejuvenative, blood purifier, adrenal strengthener. WOW!!!!

Shipard goes on to say that Gotu Kola was used for treating leprosy and tuberculosis, rheumatism and arthritis, for increasing brain capacity and for longevity. It has been called the fountain of youth and “the finest of all herbal tonics”. The information about this amazing herb goes on for several pages and now I feel like I have such a treasure growing so abundantly in my garden!! But before you go racing out to eat any leaf that looks remotely like Gotu Kola, make sure you identify it correctly as there are several other plants that it resembles. I am just very very blessed to have this amazing ecologist take me under his wing to show me the abundant healing plants growing in my very own garden.

Gotu Kola improves digestion, heals wounds, revitalises nerve and brain cells, promotes calmness and clarity, helps poor memory and concentration, improves meditation ability, helps to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. And did you know that elephants seek out Gotu Kola as a favourite food?? Now you must know that elephants are famed for their amazingly long memories!! This is the plant for me! Kosuke has been complaining about my shocking memory (I blame breastfeeding but I won’t be able to blame it for ever as K is now 16 months old!) so it’s time to get into my garden and start eating that Gotu Kola!

But wait, there’s more on this amazing herb. It was shown to improve the mental capacity and concentration ability in 15 intellectually impaired children in a double blind study. It has also been shown to relieve attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactive conditions.

Nutritionally, Gotu Kola provides complex B vitamins and amino acids which the body uses for building protein and renewing and repairing cells. Gotu Kola is also known as Indian ginseng and is as highly regarded by many herbalists (and much more affordable!). The list of ailments in the book that GK is known to be helpful is extensive! And there’s more and more info on this herb which is way beyond the scope of this blog.

In short, I am going to pop into my garden every morning and munch on 2 little GK leaves. Watch this space!!

(Disclaimer: apparently there are many varieties of Gotu Kola and some controversy over which variety of GK is the “real thing”. I have watched JP munch on what he calls Gotu Kola in my garden many many times and he doesn’t keel over so I figure even if it ain’t the “elixir of life” variety, it’s still gonna do me some good!)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. February 12, 2010 8:13 pm

    I am eagerly awaiting the next post after this wonderful one.

  2. February 24, 2010 2:35 pm


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