Gotu Kola

This herb also comes with the names Centella, Luei Gong Gen (chinese), Brahmi (Sanskrit), March Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Hydrocotyle, Note : It should not be confused with the cola nut.

It is a perennial plant native to India, China, Japan, North Africa and Sri Lanka. It is tasteless; odorless and grows in and around water. It has small and fan shaped green leaves, with lightly purple-pink blossoms. It produces a fruit, circular in shape. Its leaves and branches are used in herbal therapy.

Gotu kola has been used as therapeutic herb for thousands of years in India, China and Indonesia. Its ability to heal wound, to improve mental lucidity and to treat skin lesions, (like psoriasis) were the main reasons for its excessive use in those countries. It was also given the name “miraculous elixir of life” by a legend of an ancient Chinese herbalist, who is said to have lived over 200 years as a result of using the herb. 

In the western world it is renowned by its ability to boost mental functions and circulation. Internally it is recommended for relieving pain in muscles,joints,bones and skin lesions. Externallyl it is recommended for wound healing and generally disorders that cause connective tissue swelling like sclerodermia, psoriatic arthritis ( arthritis occurring in conjunction with psoriasis) and anklylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine), and rheumatoid arthritis. Recent studies confirm some of the traditional uses and also suggest some new applications of the herb like, reducing high blood pressure, venous insufficiency, varicose vains, enhancement of memory and intelligence, antistress , antidepressant and as a wound healing accelerator.

In Chinese medicine it is used for relief in dysentery, diarrhea, vomit, skin conditions, syphilis, pains in muscles and joints; leprosy, mental disorders, epilepsy, hysteria, dehydration. In homeopathy there is a wide use in skin lesions characterised by itching, edema as well as antinflammatory in womb’s trachea.

It should not be related with cola nitida, which is ingredient of coca cola, aw gotu kola does not contain caffeine and it is not a stimulant.

It is speculated that it can eliminate the waxy wrap of mycobakteria that cause leprosy, allowing so the immune system to destroy them.

- Indications and other uses -

Wound healing and skin lesions

Gotu kola contains triterpenoids, complexes that proven to aid wound healing. In many studies there is evidence that triterpenes strengthen the skin, increase concentration of antioxidants in wounds and replenish the irritated tissues by increasing blood concentration. Hence, this herb was used for burns, psoriasis, prevention of scars after surgery, recovery from an episiotomy following vaginal delivery of a newborn, and treatment of external fistulas (a tear at or near the anus).

Venus insufficiency and varicose veins

When blood vessels loose their elasticity, blood accumulates at the legs and liquid leaks out of the vessels causing the legs to swell(varicose veins). In a study of 94 people with venous insufficiency, those who took gotu kola reported a significant improvement in symptoms compared to those who took placebo. In another study of people with varicose veins, ultrasound examination revealed improvements in the vascular tone of those who took gotu cola.

High Blood Pressure

In a study, patients with heart disease and high blood pressure who took a supplement containing gotu kola reported significant improvement in symptoms compared to the ones taking placebo. However, further documentation is required.

Anxiety

The active compounds of gotu kola, the triterpenoids have shown to soothe anxiety symptoms and boost mental functions. A study has presented that those taking the herb were found to be less startled by novel noise ( a potential indicator of anxiety ) than the ones with placebo. Although the results of this study seem very promising, the dose used was extremely high, making difficult to draw conclusions as to whether the herb can be used in patients with anxiety.

Scleroderma

In a study with 13 women, it was reported that the herb reduced joint ache, skin hardening and improved finger movement.

Insomnia

Due to its sedative effects in experiments on animals the herb has been used to help people with insomnia.

-Dose and directions-

• The daily dose for producing decoction from leaves is 0,6grams of dried leaves three times daily.
• For varicose vains, the herbal extract in the dose of 60mg per day causes improvement.
• Capsules(powder form) containing triterpenes of centella Asiatica in a concentration of 30-60mg taken 3 times daily, are improving venous hypertension.
• The standardised extract, addressed daily in the dose of 60-120mg is effective in chronic venous insufficiency. The herb comes out in gel form too and can be applied once to twice daily.

Note: standardized extracts should contain 40% asiaticoside, 29% to 30% asiatic acid, 29% to 30% madecassic acid, and 1% to 2% madecassoside; doses used in studies mentioned in the treatment section range from 20 mg (for scleroderma) up to 180 mg (in one study for venous insufficiency; although, most of the studies for this latter condition were conducted using 90 mg to 120 mg per day).

• The Tincture (1:2, 30% alcohol)—30 to 60 drops (equivalent to 1.5 to 3 mL – there are 5 mL in a teaspoon), 3 times a day
• For insomnia, use ½ tea spoon of the dried herb in a cup of water to be taken for no more than 4-6 weeks. 

-Contraindications and Warnings-

Possible side effects include, local skin irritation, light sensitivity and sterility. It must be used with caution in patients with diabetes and hyperlipidemia.

Pregnant women should not take gotu kola because it may cause spontaneous abortion. There is little or no information regarding the safety of this herb during breastfeeding, so nursing mothers should refrain from taking this herb.

Asiaticoside, a major component of Gotu kola, has also been associated with tumor growth in mice. Though more studies are needed, it is wise for anyone with a history of precancerous or cancerous skin lesions—such as squamous cell, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma—to refrain from taking this herb.

Elderly over 65 should take less than normal doses.

Gotu kola should not be taken by children ( <18years old) as there is no supportive research for use under 18.

Also people who suffer from epilepsy and people with bright skin or light sensitivity should avoid using Gotu kola, as skin allergic reactions may be triggered.

In high doses gastrointestinal side effects are expected. Furthermore, in those doses Gotu kola can cause sedation and therefore should not be addressed in conjunction with anti stress or sedative medications.

The use of Gotu kola for more than 6 weeks is not recommended. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to 6 weeks) should take a 2-week break before taking the herb again.

Note:

Dear reader, as with all herbs and supplements, do not attempt any, if you are on any medication, unless you consult your GP first.

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