The scientific name of gotu kola is Centella asiatica, a creeping herb, growing in moist places in India and other Asian Countries. Other names of centella asiatica include Hydrocotyle asiatica, gotu kola, Indian pennywort(English), Mandukaparni(India), pegaga(Malaysia) and Di Chien Tsao, Man Tien Hsing and Zhi Xue Cao (China).
Gotu kola is a perennial plant native to India, Japan, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the South Pacific. A member of the parsley family, it has no taste or smell. It thrives in and around water. It has small fan-shaped green leaves with white or light purple-to-pink flowers, and small oval fruit. The leaves and stems of the gotu kola plant are used as medicine.
Gotu kola is a medicinal plants that have been reported to promote tissue healing and modulate host responses. It is often used as brain tonic, improves memory and strengthens the CNS. It is referred as one of the longevity herb due to it’s remarkable rejuvenation and nerve regeneration property.
Health benefits of gotu kola
Good for teeth or dental health
Eating gotu kola is a natural way to get rid of the inflammation of the tissue around the teeth, often causing shrinkage of the gums and loosening of the teeth. It helps to improve overall dental health.
Studies has proven that extracts of gotu kola and pomegranate improve clinical symptoms of chronic periodontitis.
Natural remedies for anxiety
Gotu kola herb is useful in treatment of anxiety syndromes.
Studies confirms that gotu kola may have therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of anxiety syndromes.
Protect against radiations
Consuming gotu kola herb helpful in treatment and prevention of radiation induced illness.
Studies has shown that Gotu kola has a radioprotective effect against gamma radiation.
The water extracts of gotu kola herb has healing effects on various types of ulcers including gastric and duodenal ulcer. The active ingredients in gotu kola not only to help reduce the size of the ulcers and act as anti-ulcer agents.
Studies has shown that Gotu kola has anti-gastric ulcer activity.
Anti-inflammatory and good for joints
Gotu kola herb contain high amount of madecassoside, triterpene constituent that helps to deal with inflammation inside the body. It helps to reduce pain due to inflammatory cells and protect the joint destruction. It is an effective natural herb for treatment for rheumatoid arthritis and has prevent joint destruction.
Studies has proven that Gotu kola prevents collagen II induced arthritis in mice and may provide therapeutic benefits in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
Prevent pesticide toxicity and good for neurons
Gotu kola contains asiatic acid , a triterpenoid, is an antioxidant that has neuroprotective effect. It helps to protect neuronal cells and reduces the risk of various neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease. Parkinson’s disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder with a prevalence of 1-2% in people over the age of 50.
Consuming gotu kola herb protect the body cells against toxicity and prevent various health conditions which primarily affect the neurons in the human brain. Neurons are the building blocks of the nervous system which includes the brain and spinal cord. That is the reason why gotu kola is considered as a brain food or tonic.
Studies confirms that asiatic acid, a compound found within Gotu Kola, protects against pesticide and hydrogen peroxide-induced toxicity to cell, which is primary cause of injury and dysfunctions to the neurons.
Asiatic acid is a pentacyclic triterpene found in gotu kola that has anticancer effect on skin cancer.
Studies has found that Gotu kola contains a compound which induces programmed cell death in human melanoma cell lines.
Wound healing and skin lesions, improve circulation and heart health
The total triterpenic content of gotu kola herb makes it an effective treatment for edema and many vascular diseases. It helps to improve signs and symptoms of venous hypertension and edema. It helps to improve circulation and useful in vascular diseases including venous and arterial problems.
Studies confirmed that gotu kola has therapeutic effect in venus insufficiency, venous hypertension and edema.
Gotu kola helps promote the healing of damaged tissues. It helps to prevent tissue damage (caused when blood supply returns to the tissue after a period of ischemia or lack of oxygen. The absence of oxygen and nutrients from blood during the ischemic period creates a condition in which the restoration of circulation results in inflammation and oxidative damage through the induction of oxidative stress rather than restoration of normal function.)
Another study has shown that madecassoside, one of the principle terpenoids in gotu kola has shown has the protective effect on myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury. This protection ability possibly due to its anti-lipid peroxidation, anti-inflammation and anti-apoptosis function and the enhancement of SOD activity.
Gotu kola for nerve regeneration
Axonal regeneration is important for functional recovery following nerve damage. Gotu kola act as nerve tonic, and demonstrated more rapid functional recovery and increased axonal regeneration which is useful for accelerating repair of damaged neurons.
Studies proves that Gotu kola stimulates repair of damaged neurons.
Useful in stress and improve memory
According to a study, fresh leaf juice of gotu kola is useful for memory enhancement. The result conclude that constituents/active principles present in gotu kola fresh leaf juice has neuronal dendritic growth stimulating property; hence it can be used for enhancing neuronal dendrites in stress and other neurodegenerative and memory disorders.
Boost mood and cognitive functions
A study finds that gotu kola improves cognitive function and mood in the elderly. The extracts of gotu kola helps to enhance working memory, and improves the mood.
Alzheimer’s disease and memory enhancement
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that shows cognitive deficits and memory impairment. Extract from the leaves of Gotu Kola ameliorating the cognitive impairment, stimulate neuronal dendrites of hippocampal region, that has neuroprotective activity.
Study has confirmed that Gotu kola’s memory enhancing properties may be due to enhanced phosphorylation in neuroblastoma cells.
Gotu kola dosages and uses
Gotu kola is available in teas and as dried herbs, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and ointments. Products should be stored in a cool, dry place and used before the expiration date on the label.
Gotu kola is not recommended for children under 18 years old.
The standard dose of gotu kola (Centella asiatica) for adult is different depending on what kind you use and what you use it for. Your health care provider can help you choose the right dose for you. Most studies have used standardized extracts:
- Dried herb: You can make a tea of the dried leaf, 3 times daily.
- Powdered herb: available in capsules
- Tincture (1:2 w/v, 30% alcohol): 30 to 60 drops (equivalent to 1.5 to 3 mL, there are 5 mL in a tsp.), 3 times daily.
- Standardized extract: 50 to 250 mg, 2 to 3 times daily. 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 include 20 mg for joint problems and up to 180 mg in one study for venous insufficiency, although most of the studies for this condition used 90 to 120 mg daily.
Gotu kola recipe ideas and uses
Add fresh gotu kola leaves to your salad, juices or smoothies.
Prepare gotu kola tea from fresh or dried leaves of gotu kola, by simply adding leaves into the boiling water and let it simmer for a while.
Stir fry the gotu kola leaves with spices.
Kola Kanda is a traditional Sri Lankan drink made up of gotu kola leaves as main ingredients. It is mixed together with coconut milk, rice and salt, and is often served with Jaggery.
Make chutney or fresh pesto out of gotu kola leaves.
It is advisable to take a break of a weak or so while taking any herb supplement to avoid over do effect.
Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations with external use, headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness. These tend to happen with high doses of gotu kola.
Gotu kola may interact with the following medications:
Drugs that affect the liver: Gotu kola contains things that may hurt a person’s liver, and taking it along with some other medications that also can harm the liver may cause liver damage.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs (including statins): In animal studies, gotu kola raised cholesterol levels. It may also raise cholesterol levels in humans, although no studies have been done.
Diabetes medications: In animal studies, gotu kola seems to increase blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should not take gotu kola without first talking to their doctor.
Diuretics (water pills): Gotu kola seems to act like a diuretic, meaning it helps the body get of excess fluid. Taking diuretic medications and gotu kola could cause your body to lose too much fluid, upsetting the balance of electrolytes you need. The same is true of taking gotu kola with herbs that have diuretic effects, such as green tea, astragalus, or gingko.
Sedatives: Because gotu kola acts like a sedative, it might make some drugs taken for anxiety or insomnia stronger. The same is true for herbs taken for anxiety or insomnia, such as valerian.