Gotu kola is a staple in traditional Indonesian, Chinese, and Ayurvedic medicine. Its most important benefits have been boosting brain power and healing various brain ailments. But with modern science making giant leaps through established research, we have more to know about gotu kola – the ancient herb that can heal you in magical ways.
Table Of Contents
- What Is Gotu Kola?
- How Can Gotu Kola Benefit You?
- How To Consume Gotu Kola
- Does Gotu Kola Have Any Side Effects?
What Is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola is an herb native to the wetlands in Asia. It is scientifically called Centella asiatica and finds its use both as a culinary vegetable and a medicinal herb.
Gotu kola grows in temperate and tropical swampy regions across the world. Studies show this herb can soak up heavy metals from the soil (1). Hence,we recommend you go for organic versions of the herb to avoid the harmful effects of dangerous heavy metals.
Gotu kola might be the wonder food you are looking for – due to its benefits.
How Can Gotu Kola Benefit You?
1. Boosts Cognitive Function
Studies using higher doses of gotu kola found the herb to improve the cognitive function of the subjects involved (2). In other animal models, the herb was found to boost learning performance and memory retention. These effects can be attributed to several active ingredients in the herb, the most important of which are pentacyclic triterpenes.
Another study tells us that gotu kola can improve cognitive function that takes a hit following a stroke (3). Interestingly, gotu kola fared far better than folic acid that was used in the study for similar purposes. Of course, the dosage of the herb used was far greater in this case.
The herb also activates certain antioxidant response genes that can further enhance one’s cognitive ability (4). This can also be linked to gotu kola’s ability to reduce oxidative stress.
2. May Help Treat Alzheimer’s
Gotu kola is identified as one of the few medicines in Ayurveda that rejuvenates the nerves and brain cells. It is believed to increase intelligence, memory, and longevity. Its derivatives decreased the concentrations of free radicals and the associated cell death (5).
Gotu kola extracts can also improve behavioral deficits associated with Alzheimer’s disease (6). These extracts may also restore neural cells as the studies indicate. The herb achieves this by correcting mitochondrial dysfunction, which contributes to neurodegeneration and other related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and dementia (7).
Gotu kola also helps reduce amyloid beta levels in the blood (8). These are compounds crucially involved in Alzheimer’s disease.
3. May Treat Anxiety And Depression
When 33 individuals diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder were withheld from antidepressant medication and given gotu kola tablets instead, they showed improvement. Scores for stress, anxiety, depression, and lack of attention had dramatically decreased after 60 days of treatment (9).
The herb was also found to have effects similar to commercial antidepressants like imipramine and diazepam, though at a lower level (9).
Preliminary findings also suggest that gotu kola may have anxiolytic effects in humans (10).
Gotu kola can also increase the levels of monoamine neurotransmitters (like serotonin), potentially boosting feelings of happiness (11). This can help combat depression.
4. May Regulate Blood Pressure
Studies show that gotu kola can be effective in treating venous hypertension (high pressure in the veins of the legs) (12). The herb was found to improve microcirculation and leg volume in patients.
There isn’t much information about how this may contribute to general hypertension. Consult your doctor before using gotu kola for this purpose.
5. Treats Stomach Ulcers
Gotu kola can strengthen the gastric mucosal barrier and reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. This can help treat stomach ulcers (11). The antiulcer effects of the herb were found to be comparable with prescription drugs like famotidine and sodium valproate.
In another study, gotu kola extract displayed gastroprotective effects against gastric mucosal injury (13).This shows the ability of the herb to protect the gastric barrier, which again supports using Gotu kola for treating stomach ulcers.
6. May Help Reduce Stretch Marks
Studies show that gotu kola can be effective in treating postoperative scars (14). Saponins, specific compounds in the herb, can be held responsible for this activity.
Gotu kola also has a tightening and firming action on the skin. This characteristic can help reduce stretch marks (15).
Gotu kola preparations were found to decrease stretch marks women usually develop post pregnancy. In a placebo-controlled study involving 100 women, application of a cream with gotu kola as the main ingredient led to fewer women developing stretch marks (11).
7. Can Accelerate Wound Healing
Extracts of gotu kola can facilitate wound healing in both incision and burn wounds. A 1% gotu kola extract cream was found to improve wound healing of chronic ulcers, in terms of their width, depth, and length (16).
These wound-healing properties of the herb can be attributed to the phyto-constituents it contains. While the herb increased the wound breaking strength in an incision wound model, asiaticoside isolated from the herb had increased collagen content in a punch wound model (16).
Wound dressings containing gotu kola were found to have healing effects on multiple types of wounds (17).
8. Might Support Liver Health
Gotu kola might be useful in preventing liver damage. It achieves this by increasing the concentrations of antioxidant enzymes and reducing the levels of inflammatory mediators (18).
We suggest exercising caution as another report states that gotu kola may have liver damaging effects (19).
9. Might Promote Weight Loss
There is very little information on this. But there is one study that shows that a topical lotion (with gotu kola as one of the ingredients) helped reduce thigh circumference and thigh fat mass in sedentary women, when combined with a walking program and a restricted caloric intake (20).
Other than the the above report, there is insufficient information. Hence, we suggest talking to your doctor before using the herb for this purpose.
With the benefits stated, you may want to make use of this herb right away. But hold on – how do you use it? Where can you procure it from?
How To Consume Gotu Kola
You can either use gotu kola capsules or the liquid extract – you can purchase them from your local health store or online. However, be sure to use 3rd party testing companies that are the “watch-dogs” for quality vs inferior supplements.
It is important you speak to your doctor before using this herb. When it comes to dosage and how to use it, do as directed by your healthcare provider.
But before you proceed, you must also be aware of the possible adverse effects of the herb.
Does Gotu Kola Have Any Side Effects?
- Possible Issues During Pregnancy And Breastfeeding
The herb is safe to be used topically. But there is not much information available about its oral intake. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, don’t consume gotu kola.
- Liver Issues
We have already discussed this in the earlier section. People with liver disease should stay away from gotu kola. More importantly, they must consult their doctor.
- Possible Issues During Surgery
Gotu kola may cause excessive sleepiness if combined with those medications usually used during or after surgery. Avoid using the herb at least two weeks prior to scheduled surgery.
- Other Allergies
Gotu kola may cause allergies in some individuals. The symptoms include hives, itchiness, skin redness, difficulty in breathing, swollen lips, tongue, face, or throat. Stop use immediately if you notice any of these signs.
- Possible Medical Interactions
Gotu kola may interfere with the following medications:
- Sedatives like Klonopin, Ativan, Ambien, etc.
- Medications that may harm the liver, including Tylenol, Aldomet, Cordarone, Zocor, Dilantin, etc.
Gotu kola is a potent herb. The fact that it has been in use since traditional ages tells us one thing – it is worth a try. Ensure you have a word with your doctor before considering using it.
Have you heard of gotu kola before? Ever used it? Leave a comment below to share your thoughts with us.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Is gotu kola a stimulant?
No, it is not. It is often confused with kola nut, the fruit of the kola tree (native to tropical rain forests of Africa) that contains caffeine and works as a stimulant.
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- “Effects of Centella asiatica…” Nature Journal.
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- “Centella asiatica modulates antioxidant and…” Journal of Ethnopharmacology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Ayurvedic medicinal plants for Alzheimer’s…” Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Centella asiatica extract improves…” International Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
- “Ayurvedic medicine for the treatment of dementia…” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Centella asiatica extract selectively decreases…” Phytotherapy Research, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Recent updates in neuroprotective and…” The Malaysian Journal of Medical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
- “A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on…” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology.
- “Pharmacological review on Centella asiatica…” Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Microcirculatory effects of total…” Angiology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Centella asiatica leaf extract…” Journal of Medicinal Food, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Centella asiatica in cosmetology” Advances in Dermatology and Allergology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Skin ageing: natural weapons and strategies” Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Wound healing activities of…” BMC Complementary & Alternative Medicine, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Mechanical properties and in vivo healing…” ScienceDirect.
- “Protective effects of Centella asiatica leaf…” Molecular Medicine Reports, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Drug-induced liver toxicity and prevention by…” Frontiers in Physiology, US National Library of Medicine.
- “Effects of a topical lotion containing…” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, US National Library of Medicine.
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