Gotukola, also called gotu kola (Centella asiatica), is an herb that grows wild in this part of the world and is commonly sold at grocery stores, vegetable shops, and off the back of vegetable seller’s bicycles.

It even grows on our lawn amongst the grass and mosses.

One day, for no particular reason, I started researching gotukola. Imagine my surprise when I read this:

 Centella asiatica (L.) Also known as Hydrocotyle asiatica, Apiaceae.  Commonly known as Gotu kola, hydrocotyle, Indian pennywort

Centella promotes wound healing.  It significantly increases the collagen content of cell layer fibronectin, is anti-inflammatory (madecassoside), and stimulates wound healing (asiaticoside). Asiatic acid is the constituent responsible for the collagen synthesis stimulation. It stimulates the healing of chronic lesions such as ulcers, surgical wounds, fistula, gynecological and bladder lesions.  It is also used for treatment of psoriasis. It is used for leprosy, and keloid and hypertrophic scars.

There’s a lot of info there, and well worth reading.

There’s more information here, and here, it talks about using gotukola as a treatment for improving meditation, developing the crown chakra, balancing the two hemispheres of the brain, revitalizing nerves and brain cells, improving the immune system, strengthen the adrenals, and so on. It even refers to gotukola as “an excellent herb for children with ADD”:

I especially like this following bit:

Gotu kola affects various stages of tissue development, including… …the synthesis of collagen (the first step in tissue repair)

I have a genetic collagen defect called Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Will gotukola make a difference with EDS? There is no indication of any studies done with EDS or collagen defects in mind, but then, let’s face it, there just aren’t many studies done with EDS or collagen defects in mind. It’s off the radar – most doctors have never even heard of it.

Gotukola seeds can be bought on the Internet if the leaves are not available in your local grocery store, although this site sells the fresh herbs as well. We frequently get fresh herbs with root still attached, which can be planted to grow your own

We eat it in a sambol which I was introduced to it very early in my stay in Sri Lanka and fell in love with it on the spot. I’ve also had gotukola porridge, which is a porridge made with coconut milk, red rice (the local version of brown rice), green chillies, and is quite good.

Gotukola Sambol

  • 1/2 cup coconut, freshly shredded
  • 1 cup gotukola, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Maldive fish flakes
  • 1 green chilli, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, finely minced

Mix thoroughly.

We use the gotukola leaf and the first inch or so of the stem. Some people use a few to several inches of stem. Either way is fine.

Freshly shredded coconut can sometimes be purchased from Asian grocery stores or restaurants, and sometimes it can be found in the freezer section. Ask around before using dried coconut since the freshly shredded coconut really is ambrosia.

Unsweetened dried coconut can be used instead, but it won’t be anywhere near as good as freshly shredded. If you’re using unsweetened dried coconut, re-hydrate by soaking the coconut in hot coconut milk or cows milk.

Maldive fish flakes can be purchased at some Asian grocery stores.

The lime juice we use is fresh from key limes that are fully ripe (yellow), which means the juice is sweeter.

I hope you enjoy! If you make this, please let me know how it works for you. 🙂

5 Replies to “Gotukola Sambol”

  1. Fascinating post Laurie, I don’t think I’ve ever seen it here – thanks for sharing this with WHB.

  2. Hi Laurie,

    I love Sri Lankan food (as I’m 1/2 Sri Lankan!) and have been playing around with recipes for about ten years. After my last visit, I fell in love with Gotu Kola Sambol and am desperate to find Gotu Kola here in the states. Have you heard of folks over here or in Canada getting their hands on fresh Gotu Kola?


  3. Nalini, I have no idea, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you can in areas where there’s a greater concentration of Asians, like in Vancouver or Toronto. I’d be inclined to first check in Indian or Asian supermarkets.

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