Gotu Kola: Evidence Based Benefits and Side Effects

What is gotu kola?

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is an extremely effective herb, having various medicinal uses. It has been a trusted health remedy in Ayurvedic medicine for a long time, with several new studies having proved its beneficial effects in recent times.

Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola

Possible health benefits of gotu kola: What is it good for

Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI)

Gotu kola is believed to help in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, a condition in which the veins  fail to pump deoxygenated blood to the heart for purification. In such cases, the venous valves, especially those in the legs, do not function properly,  causing sores, cramps, and swelling due to the accumulation of deoxygenated blood.

Several studies have shown that the herb improves the blood flow by strengthening the walls of the veins. Another study has suggested its powerful effects on varicose veins, swollen and twisted veins near the surface of the skin often associated with CVI.

Sleep disorders

According to some laboratory studies, it might induce sleep in people with insomnia. However, more research needs to be done to confirm the sleep-promoting benefits of the herb.

Gotu Kola Pictures
Gotu Kola Pictures
Gotu Kola Plant
Gotu Kola Plant

Anxiety and depression

Asiaticosides, madecassosides, and vitamin B complex in gotu kola have anti-anxiety effects that control the levels of neurotransmitters for proper functioning of the brain. Its usefulness in the treatment of chronic anxiety and depression has been revealed in an animal study.

Wound healing

Topical application of its extract might speed up the healing process of a skin burn. According to some clinical findings, asiaticosides in the herb promote growth of new blood vessels to repair the wounded skin.

Its unique combination with brahmi can also help in reducing anxiety and mood swings.

Gotu Kola Images
Gotu Kola Images
Gotu Kola Leaves
Gotu Kola Leaves

Cancer

Asiaticosides in gotu kola have antioxidant property that works effectively against cancer cells. In a study, it has been shown that the herb is capable of destroying liver tumor cells.

Diabetes and diabetic microangiopathy

People with diabetes can use gotu kola tincture as an alternative anti-diabetic remedy instead of relying on medications that may have adverse effects.

There are several laboratory studies carried out on rats that demonstrate its efficiency in lowering the levels of blood glucose.

Untreated diabetes can lead to diabetic microangiopathy in which excessive accumulation of glucose in the blood vessels causes deposition of glycoproteins. In some human clinical trials, the protective effect of the extract against the painful condition has been shown.

Gastric ulcers

The herb contains triterpenes that exhibit anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial activity. As evident from a study on rats, gotu kola juice allows gastric ulcers to heal quickly.

Periodontitis

It is often helpful in treating periodontitis, a severe gum disease caused by infection. In a clinical trial, the extract was shown to reduce gum inflammation in affected patients.

Gotu Kola Oil
Gotu Kola Oil
Gotu Kola Powder
Gotu Kola Powder

High cholesterol

It is always important to keep a check on the blood cholesterol levels to reduce the risk of various heart disorders. High cholesterol causes hardening of the arteries that may affect blood flow to the heart.

Gotu kola leaf extract, as well as its powder, has been examined in a study, showing its ability to remove excessive cholesterol from the blood.

Diarrhea

According to a clinical study, the extract has the potential to fight against bacteria responsible for causing diarrhea.

Skin problems

Its high antioxidant value can minimize the formation of plaques and pimples on the skin as seen in psoriasis and acne, respectively. Positive effects of gotu kola seed oil on stretch marks and wrinkles make it a promising anti-aging remedy.

Several studies have shown the effectiveness of the plant on skin areas affected by psoriasis.

Memory enhancement

It promotes cognitive function that helps in boosting memory in children and older people. The rejuvenating effects of the herb on the nervous system improve concentration and learning ability.

Various research studies done on mice linked its use to improved memory and learning. However, there is a lack of evidence about its efficiency in treating young children with ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder).

Gotu Kola Photos
Gotu Kola Photos

Effects on cellulite

Cellulite is the fat which accumulates in certain areas beneath the skin, giving it a dimpled appearance. There have been some laboratory evidences that confirm the benefits of gotu kola on cellulite-affected skin.

Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease

Some studies have confirmed the role of gotu kola in removing amyloid-beta plaque deposits within the brain that damage the nerve cells, causing Alzheimer’s disease.

A study in animals with Parkinson’s disease has linked the nootropic activity of the herb to stimulation of dopamine production for improving movement, showing its potential benefits for fighting the condition.

Gotu kola might assist in enhancing brain function when taken along with ginkgo.

Gotu Kola Tea
Gotu Kola Tea

Gotu kola Tea for arthritis

Tea brewed from the dried leaves of gotu kola is consumed for its anti-inflammatory benefits. It helps in alleviating joint swelling and pain in arthritic patients.

Use of the extract on animal models displaying symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis supported its anti-inflammatory activity.

Hair loss

Some of the ingredients in gotu kola are presumed to be good for improving the growth of hair. However, there are no definitive research studies to support its use.

Gotu Kola Flower
Gotu Kola Flower

Safety and Precautions

Side effects– In most cases, people using gotu kola do not experience any adverse effects. However, over-consumption of the herb as well as tea might cause nausea, vomiting, and allergy.

Use during Pregnancy– Its use should be avoided during pregnancy or while breastfeeding.

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Centella_asiatica

http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-753-gotu%20kola.aspx?activeingredientid=753&activeingredientname=gotu%20kola

http://www.herbwisdom.com/herb-gotu-kola.html

http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/herb/gotu-kola

http://www.drugs.com/npp/gotu-kola.html#ref39