Supplements from the gotu kola plant have become a popular treatment in the U.S. for improving cognition, reducing fatigue, improving concentration, decreasing anxiety, and treating varicose veins. Despite the similar name, gotu kola is unrelated to the kola nut. It contains no caffeine.
Why do people take gotu kola?
Oral gotu kola might improve circulation. Some studies show that it can help treat chronic venous insufficiency. This condition can cause varicose veins, swelling in the legs and feet, pain, and itching. Taking gotu kola for 4 to 8 weeks seems to improve symptoms. It might also lower the risk of blood clots after plane flights.
A few studies have found that gotu kola might improve strength, mood, and cognitive function in older people. Experts have looked at gotu kola as a treatment for other conditions like anxiety, liver disease, bladder disease, and hardening of the arteries. Some of the research has been promising, but we don't have enough evidence yet.
A few studies have found that gotu kola creams or ointments might prevent scarring and help with wound healing and psoriasis. These creams may help reduce stretch marks during pregnancy.
How much gotu kola should you take?
There is no standard dose of gotu kola. For venous insufficiency and varicose veins, studies have used oral doses of gotu kola ranging from 60 milligrams to 180 milligrams daily. Ask your doctor for advice.
Can you get gotu kola naturally from foods?
There are no sources of gotu kola besides the plant itself.Some people eat gotu kola leaves in salad or steep them to make tea.
What are the risks of taking gotu kola?
- Side effects. Oral gotu kola seems to cause few side effects. There is the potential for allergy when taken orally. Some people develop nausea and headache. In high doses, gotu kola can cause sleepiness, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar. Some people have allergic skin reactions after using gotu kola creams and ointments.
- Risks. Animal studies have found that gotu kola makes it harder to become pregnant. Do not use gotu kola if you have any health conditions, especially diabetes, high cholesterol, or liver disease. Stop using gotu kola at least two weeks before surgery.
- Interactions. If you take any medicines or supplements regularly, talk to your doctor before you start using gotu kola. It could interact with treatments for anxiety, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease, and liver disease. Gotu kola could amplify the effects of alcohol and sedative medications.
Given the lack of evidence about its safety, oral gotu kola is not recommended for children or for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.