Brahmi vs Gotu Kola – Which is Better for You?

Brahmi and Gotu Kola

The Ayurvedic herb brahmi is commonly referred to as gotu kola, this has led some to believe that these two herbs are interchangeable. Both are used extensively in Ayurveda due to their effects on the mind. But both brahmi and gotu kola are distinct in their properties, pharmacology, and photochemistry, and are treated as separate herbs in the ancient Ayurvedic texts.

Both brahmi and gotu kola have many health claims and proven effects; I will review only the health claims that they have in common. Both herbs are said to have beneficial effects on the mind, reduce stress, enhance immune function, and improve the health of the skin.

Below is a list of the Latin, Sanskrit, and English names for these two herbs. From now on, I will use their Sanskrit names to avoid confusion.

Latin Sanskrit English
Bacopa Monnieri Brahmi Water hyssop, Thyme-Leaved Gratiola
Centella asiatica Mandukaparni Gotu Kola, Indian Pennywort

The Effects of Brahmi and Mandukaparni on the Mind


Both brahmi and mandukaparni are said to act on the crown chakra and improve meditation. Both affect the mind in a similar way by balancing the left and right hemispheres of the brain and improving the three functions of the mind: learning (dhi), retention (driti), and recall (smriti).

Mandukaparni acts with a special emphasis on memory. It keeps the brain youthful and has been shown to improve symptoms of senility and dementia.

Brahmi has a harmonizing effect on the neurotransmitters in the brain. It balances and coordinates the three functions of the mind helping to transform the learning of new knowledge into retention, retention into recall, and recall of this knowledge to assist in other learning.

Brahmi is noted to have a more specific action in treating mental disturbances such as anxiety, epilepsy, and insanity.

Because of mandukaparni’s rejuvenating effects on the mind, it is used more as a general tonic for mental function.

Effects of Brahmi and Mandukaparni on Stress and Immune Function


Mandukaparni seems to be better known as an adaptogen, but both herbs enhance immune function, strengthen the adrenals, and aid in reducing stress. Because of their calming, balancing effects, they lessen the production of cortisol and other stress hormones and reduce the emotional and mental triggers of stress-related ailments.


Effects of Brahmi and Mandukaparni on the Skin

The anti-aging effects of mandukaparni are beneficial not only for the mind but also for the skin. It increases the synthesis or collagen which is responsible for the skin’s elasticity, strength, and smoothness.

Mandukaparni has anti-inflammatory properties. When applied topically it reduces scarring, treats burns, promotes wound healing, prevents infection, and treats other skin ailments such as eczema and leprosy.

Both herbs improve the complexion of the skin because they help the liver flush out toxins. Brahmi is said to have more detoxifying qualities.

Use of Brahmi and Mandukaparni in Pregnancy

Brahmi is safe and often promoted for use in pregnancy; it increases fertility and sustains implantation. Mandukaparni is contraindicated in pregnancy as it can cause expelling of the embryo.

Adverse Reactions

Neither herb has any toxic effects but if taken in excess, mandukaparni can cause headaches, loss of consciousness, itching, or skin rashes. Mandukaparni can also cause other reactions on the skin such as contact dermatitis; therefore, it should be tested on a small patch of skin, before applying over a large area.


Photo: Swapan

Michelle is passionate about holistic health and self-discovery. She received her training in Nutrition, Herbalism, and Bodywork from the International Academy of Natural Health Sciences in Ottawa, ON. She studied Ayurveda and Yoga in India and later continued her Yoga studies on Koh Phangan in Thailand. Michelle truly believes that good health involves body, mind, and spirit. She loves to spend her time in walking in nature, meditating, painting, writing, and learning more about health and wellness.


  1. You have mentioned that Gotu Kola and Brahmi work on the Crown Chakra..
    Which herb would you recommend that will be good and healing for the Heart Chakra.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Anupa,
      Rose helps to open the heart chakra. Hawthorn berry also has an affinity for the heart chakra.


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