Vallarai Keerai, also known as Gotu Kola, is a powerful medicinal herb that confers immense health benefits primarily for enhancing brain activity and nervous system functioning, besides mitigating joint pain in arthritis, healing stomach ulcers and decreasing stress, anxiety.
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Vallarai keerai is a popular green leafy vegetable utilised extensively in conventional South Indian cooking. Although the lush, verdant leaves do not carry any prominent aroma or flavour, being tasteless and odourless, they can be easily incorporated into dishes along with spices, to make vallarai keerai kootu or dal, vallarai keerai thuvayal (a thick, coarse chutney variant), as well as salads, soups, idlis, dosas and sambhar.
The other segments of the plant, namely the stem, flowers and fruits are also used in numerous natural home remedies for skin ailments like eczema, boosting memory, aiding in digestion, in Ayurveda practice in India as well as in traditional Chinese medicine.
While native to warm, moist environments in Asian nations, gotu kola or vallarai keerai is today being widely cultivated across the globe, in Western regions of North America, Europe and even parts of Australia, owing to its rich nutritional profile and vast benefits for wellness. It is also being sold in the form of herbal supplemental capsules, tablets and powders, to uplift overall health.
Vallarai Keerai Nutrition Facts:
A flourishing herbal wonder, vallarai keerai abounds in Vitamin C. It is also low in calories to help maintain body weight and supplies adequate essential dietary fibers and proteins. Furthermore, it also offers the key spectrum of B vitamins to regulate metabolism and cellular energy requirements.
The following is the nutritional value of vallarai keerai or gotu kola, per 100 g, according to the data provided by the USDA Nutrient Database (United States Department of Agriculture):
Energy 15 kcal
Carbohydrates 3.2 g
Dietary fiber 1 g
Fat 0.04 g
Protein 2.76 g
Thiamine (B1) 3%
Riboflavin (B2) 2%
Niacin (B3) 1%
Vitamin B6 3%
Vitamin C 73%
Vallarai Keerai also comprises ample potassium which is sufficient for the daily requirement of adults. Other vital trace minerals in this natural herb include phosphorus, copper, iron, calcium, magnesium and zinc.
Furthermore, Vallarai keerai is a treasure trove of potent antioxidants such as saponins or triterpenoids, flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins, in addition to brahmoside, brahmoside and centelloside, which are responsible for its positive modulating effects on the Central Nervous System (CNS).
Vallarai Keerai Benefits For Health:
Improves Brain Functions
The unique combination of beneficial compounds in vallarai keerai – brahmoside, brahminoside and centelloside assist in elevating memory, concentration and intellect. Consuming a small portion of vallarai keerai as part of daily diet stimulates the neurotransmitter activity in the CNS, thereby ensuring normal relay of nerve signals from the brain to the other organs in the body, as well as heightened cognitive abilities.
Boosts Immune System
Consuming just a moderate quantity of vallarai keerai will satisfy the daily vitamin C requirement in healthy adults. Vitamin C not only functions in enhancing iron absorption for enhanced blood circulation but also works to improve immunity by white blood cells in the system. In addition, vitamin C is obligatory for growth and development of all body tissues and a key antioxidant for removing toxins from the system.
Maintains Heart Health
Being intrinsically high in potassium levels, vallarai keerai assists in the maintenance of normal blood pressure. It also functions in promoting cardiac muscle activity, lowers the amounts of bad LDL cholesterol and raises levels of good HDL cholesterol. Moreover, this herb is very advantageous in preventing instances of heart attacks and stroke and thereby contributes to a longer and healthier lifespan.
Relaxes Muscle Cramps
Vallarai keerai is bestowed with the key minerals for optimal muscle function – magnesium and manganese. The significantly high mineral content in vallarai keerai makes it an ideal option to provide relief from muscle sores and cramps. Moreover, post a high-intensity workout, when muscles in the arms and legs are strained, eating a salad with gotu kola can instantly alleviate symptoms of pain and discomfort.
Vallarai keerai comprises valuable dietary fibers which ensure proper bowel movement upon ingestion of heavy meals. This is crucial to regulate kidney function and filter out all the toxic waste products upon digestion of food and assimilation of required nutrients. Consuming some vallarai keerai soup also efficiently relieves intestinal conditions like constipation and indigestion.
The calcium present in vallarai keerai is absorbed by bones in the body, thereby helping to maintain optimal bone density for day-to-day functions and flexible, unobstructed movement. The very high potassium content in this leafy vegetable complements bone health by enhancing mineral uptake by cells and tissues in the body.
Combats Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
Vallarai keerai offers profuse amounts of vitamin C that confers anti-inflammatory properties to reduce swelling in the bladder, which is more common in women than men. Also, its antioxidant capabilities are useful in removing detrimental free radicals and harmful bacteria from the body. This, in turn, helps to avoid oxidation of the healthy cells in the excretory system organs, thus ensuring proper elimination of wastes and unnecessary food residues from the body and preventing their accumulation in the system.
Helps Cure Anemia
Vitamin C also performs one very vital function in the human body which is of enhancing the absorption of iron from ingested food. Deficiency in iron quantities leads to a condition known as anaemia wherein there is a lack of adequate red blood cells in the body to transport nutrients and oxygen to all cells and tissues. Taking some vallarai keerai salad with meals will guarantee ample uptake of iron, from foods, into the system and promote red blood cell synthesis and blood passage.
Vallarai Keerai Usage In Ayurveda:
Vallarai Keerai is a time-tested herb in Ayurveda, that is categorised as a “Medhya Rasayana” plant, meaning natural produce that remarkably promotes mental faculties, mood, memory and thinking. Its therapeutic applications are hence, of tremendous magnitude, in Ayurveda – the traditional Indian system of medicine. The olden Ayurvedic scriptures praise the healing potential of vallarai keerai, in successfully alleviating depression, anxiety, lowering stress levels, averting cancer and remedying liver disorders.
Remedies Varicose Veins
Vallarai keerai or Gotu kola is blessed with powerful anti-inflammatory compounds that vastly stimulate blood circulation in all organs in the body. Varicose veins are characterized by distended legs with purple discolouration due to a decline in elasticity of blood vessels. Hence, vallarai keerai works wonders in lessening swelling in the legs, boosting blood flow, diminishing varicose veins and combatting chronic venous insufficiency (CVI).
Uplifts Lung Health
Laden with phytonutrients that possess decongestant properties, vallarai keerai confers remarkable merits for healing symptoms of chronic cold, asthma, bronchitis, by loosening trapped phlegm deposits in the nasal and pulmonary passages. The acid compound asiaticoside comprises cytoprotective traits that shield lung cells, tissues from injury, besides reducing fluid retention in conditions of pleural effusion for bolstered lung power and improved breathing functions.
Ensures Deep Sleep
Vallarai keerai is rich in a plethora of nerve-regulating components which balance GABA neurotransmitter levels and deliver valuable sedative qualities to calm the mind. Insomnia and anxiety are a result of an agitated, nervous, panicked mental state and Gotu kola is an excellent tranquilising agent that soothes stress, tension, promotes sound uninterrupted sleep at night, alleviates undue worry and augments brain health.
Effect On Doshas
Vallarai Keerai, in essence, has a slightly madhura rasa (sweet taste) with intrinsically laghu and ruksha gunas (light and dry qualities). It possesses ushna virya (heating potency), balancing the kapha (earth and water) dosha (element) while excessively influencing pitta (fire and water) and vata (air and ether) doshas. Moreover, it fosters the positive and equalizing states of mind namely sattva and rajas, effectively eliminating tamas or a negative mindset.
Ameliorates Depression Symptoms
Comprising neurotransmitter regulating properties, vallarai keerai efficiently boosts the positive state of mind – sattva and suppresses lethargy or tamas. This works wonders in uplifting moods, sharpening the intellect and rehabilitating the brain from depression symptoms. It is also a wonderful solution for improving conditions of memory loss and nerve decline in neurodegenerative disorders such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and others.
Vallarai Keerai Side Effects:
Vallarai keerai is generally safe for consumption among people of all age groups.
Keep in mind to not consume it in excessive amounts if pregnant, as it might result in digestive disorders.