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Gotu Kola herbs

Chinese: 积雪草

Pinyin: Jī Xuě Cǎo

Parts used: Dried herbs

TCM category: Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity

TCM nature: Cold

TCM taste(s): BitterPungent

Organ affinity: Spleen Kidney Liver

Scientific name: Centella asiatica

Other names: Asiatic Pennywort, Kodavan, Indian pennywort, Thankuni, Buabok, Simon wort

Use of gotu kola herbs (Ji Xue Cao) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash, and dry.

Dosage: 15 to 30g

Main actions according to TCM*: Disperses Damp-Heat and detoxifies. Reduces swelling.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which gotu kola herbs may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Jaundice Heat stroke Diarrhea Urolithiasis Hematuria Carbuncles Boils Traumatic injuries

Key TCM concepts behind gotu kola herbs (Ji Xue Cao)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), gotu kola herbs are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity' category. Herbs in this category are used to clear inflammatory and infectious conditions, referred to as 'Internal Heat' in TCM. This is why most of the herbs in this category will have both antibacterial and antiviral properties. In TCM one has too much 'Internal Heat' in their body as a result of a deficiency of 'Yin' (which is Cold in nature, see our explanation on Yin and Yang) or, more commonly, an Excess of Yang (Hot in nature). Herbs that clear Heat and relieve Toxicity treat the latter while, at the same time, removing infectious toxins from the body. As such they tend to be Cold or Neutral in nature.

As suggested by its category gotu kola herbs are plants that are Cold in nature. This means that gotu kola herbs typically help people who have too much 'Heat' in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much Heat in their body are said to either have a Yang Excess (because Yang is Hot in nature) or a Yin deficiency (Yin is Cold in Nature). Depending on your condition gotu kola herbs can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Gotu Kola herbs also taste Bitter and Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Bitter ingredients like gotu kola herbs tend to have a cleansing action on the body by clearing Heat, drying Dampness and promoting elimination via urination or bowel movements. On the other hand Pungent ingredients tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such gotu kola herbs are thought to target the Spleen, the Kidney and the Liver. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, Blood coagulation and Fluids metabolism in the body. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. The Liver is often referred as the body's "general" because it is in charge of regulating the movements of Qi and the Body Fluids. It also takes a leading role in balancing our emotions.