Gotu kola or Centella asiatica is an herb in the parsley family. It has a long history of use in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines, known as one of the miracle elixirs of life. This versatile herb has a variety of regional names, such as brahma-buti, madecassol, thick-leaved pennywort, and tungchian, and plenty of potential benefits to go along with them.
Gotu kola is making inroads in western medicine. It is packed with bioactive compounds, and folk remedies use all parts of the plant, except the roots, to make powders, creams, salves, and teas. Sometimes the leaves are mixed into salads. Modern studies of gotu kola frequently use a titrated extract of Centella asiatica or TECA.
Anti-inflammatory properties of gotu kola may relieve some symptoms of rheumatoid and osteoarthritis. Asiaticoside in the plant leaves inhibits enzymes that trigger an inflammatory response from the immune system. A European study finds that another compound, madecassoside, alleviated joint inflammation and provided some protection against joint destruction in cases of rheumatoid arthritis.
Enhanced cognitive function related to learning and memory may be the most well-known benefit of gotu kola. Extracts of the herb affect various brain markers, such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, glutathione, and MDA. Gotu kila also protects brain cells by reducing lipid peroxidation. A combination of these factors may be responsible for heightened concentration, improved memory, and superior knowledge retention.
Many triterpene compounds in Gotu kola promote wound healing. Triterpenes stimulate fibroblast formation in the dermis or underlying skin cell layers. Prolific fibroblasts increase collagen production at wound sites. Gotu kola is especially beneficial for burn wounds and infection. The herb contains various compounds that reduce inflammation, encourage antioxidant activity, and provide antibacterial effects.
Many skincare products include gotu kola. The herb contains nutrients necessary for healthy skin, including phytonutrients, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, vitamin C, riboflavin, and polyphenol. Gotu kola's antibacterial and antifungal properties may prevent acne. Triterpene compounds stimulate collagen production to encourage skin cell renewal, while itamin C and flavonoids are potent antioxidants that may reduce the effects of aging. Tannins and saponins relieve inflammation and encourage moisture retention.
Gotu kola may help control blood glucose levels. Research shows that dietary fibers in gotu kola bind with glucose and sucrose. This slows absorption of these sugars and leads to lower peak glucose concentrations after meals. Simple sugars bound by these fibers often make it to the large intestine and eventually leave the body. Regardless of the potential benefit, though, always speak to a doctor before trying new supplements to manage diabetes or any medical condition.
Research shows that gotu kola extract relieves symptoms of varicose veins, such as pain, swelling, and leg heaviness. Chronic venous insufficiency, or CVI, often causes or contributes to varicose veins. Vein structure deteriorates with age and lets blood pool in weakened areas, especially in the lower extremities. Triterpenes increase collagen production, which strengthens the structural components of blood vessels. Firm, toned vein structure reduces or eliminates blood pooling in weak areas.
People with diabetes may develop microangiopathy or small vessel disease. Microangiopathy causes leakage from capillaries that can result in skin ulceration, especially in the lower legs and feet. Bioactive compounds in gotu kola can relieve this condition in several ways. Triterpenes reduce fluid leakage by strengthening blood vessels and improving microcirculation. The same compounds promote healing of the ulcers themselves, and gotu kola's effects on blood glucose levels may help manage diabetes.
Himalayan monks use gotu kola for mediation. The herb is sometimes touted as a sleep aid and anti-anxiolytic. Modern studies find that gotu kola extract increases acetylcholine activity in the brain. Several bioactive compounds in the herb stimulate GABA production and raise levels of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. These neurotransmitters have a calming effect and enhance overall mood. Research on the anti-anxiolytic effects of gotu kola is ongoing.
As with all medications, gotu kola can cause side effects. Mild side effects include nausea, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness. Topical use can trigger allergic skin reactions or a burning sensation in some people. High doses of gotu kola extract may damage the liver, especially in combination with other medications. People with liver damage should not take gotu kola, and the herb is not recommended for anyone with a history of cancerous skin lesions. Always discuss natural supplements with a doctor before adding them to your regimine.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.