Health Benefits of Gotu Kola

Gotu kola, or Centella asiatica, is a plant traditionally used in Chinese and Indonesian medicine. Known as the “herb of longevity,” this plant is indigenous to the wetlands of Southeast Asia, where it’s consumed as a juice, tea, or supplement. 

Practitioners of alternative medicine use gotu kola for its anti-inflammatory benefits, as well as to promote overall mental health. While some benefits of the herb may need further study, gotu kola may help improve your health and well-being. 

Health Benefits

Gotu kola is commonly used as an herbal supplement for conditions ranging from varicose veins to Alzheimer’s disease. The plant contains compounds like triterpenoid saponins, which are common in medicinal plants. Researchers believe these compounds are responsible for the wide range of health benefits. 

Boost Cognitive Function 

Gotu kola can enhance your memory and overall cognitive function, which means it may have potential in treating Alzheimer’s disease. A 2016 study compared the effects of gotu kola extract and folic acid in improving cognitive abilities after a stroke. Both gotu kola and folic acid equally benefited participants, while gotu kola was more effective in improving memory.

Early studies on mice show that gotu kola extract had a positive effect on mice with Alzheimer’s disease. While it may show promise in treating Alzheimer’s in animals, more research is needed to confirm its effects on people. 

Varicose Veins 

Several studies show that gotu kola can be used as a treatment for varicose veins and venous insufficiency. Participants who took a gotu kola supplement for eight weeks showed improvements in the health of their veins, including reduced inflammation and pain.

Another study showed that gotu kola supplements improved function of the veins in participants with diabetic microangiopathy, a condition that affects people with diabetes

Reduce Anxiety 

Some studies show that gotu kola may have a relaxing or anti-anxiety effect. In a 2016 study, researchers found that gotu kola reduced anxiety-induced behavior in mice that were sleep-deprived for 72 hours. While this research is still preliminary, it shows some promise in relieving stress and anxiety. 

In another study on humans, researchers found that gotu kola reduced the startle response in participants, which is often associated with anxiety. However, more evidence is needed to support the link between gotu kola and anxiety. 

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Health Risks

Gotu kola is typically safe to consume. However, some reported side effects of the herb include: 

  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea 
  • Skin irritation

 

Although there is limited research on gotu kola’s effect on other medications, it’s possible that it can interfere with prescription or over-the-counter medications. Always consult your doctor before using gotu kola. 

While gotu kola is safe when obtained from reliable sources, herbal remedies aren’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Some sources of gotu kola have been found to contain dangerous levels of heavy metals. 

Amount and Dosage

Gotu kola can be taken as a supplement, brewed as a tea, or used as an extract. For skin conditions, it can also be applied topically. 

While the herb is generally safe to use, careful dosing can help limit the risks. Due to the risk of damaging the liver, gotu kola should be taken on a short-term basis only. Experts recommend no more than a 500-milligram dose taken twice daily for 14 days. Always take a two-week break before resuming use. Starting with a low dose and slowly increasing to a full dose can also reduce the risk of side effects. 

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 08, 2020

Sources

SOURCES: 

Angiology: "Effects of the total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in venous hypertensive microangiopathy: a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized trial."

Angiology: "Evaluation of treatment of diabetic microangiopathy with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica: a clinical prospective randomized trial with a microcirculatory model."

Environmental Monitoring and Assessment: "Effects of metal-contaminated soils on the accumulation of heavy metals in gotu kola (Centella asiatica) and the potential health risks: a study in Peninsular Malaysia."

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine: "Effectiveness of Gotu Kola Extract 750 mg and 1000 mg Compared with Folic Acid 3 mg in Improving Vascular Cognitive Impairment after Stroke."

Journal of Stress Physiology & Biochemistry: "Centella Asiatica: A Concise Drug Review With Probable Clinical Uses."

Nepal Medical College Journal: "A clinical study on the management of generalized anxiety disorder with Centella asiatica."

Novel Therapeutics in Alzheimer's Disease: "Centella asiatica Extract Improves Behavioral Deficits in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer's Disease: Investigation of a Possible Mechanism of Action."

Penn State Hershey, Milton S. Hershey Medical Center: "Gotu kola."

Phytotherapy Research: "Possible Involvement of Nitric Oxide Modulatory Mechanisms in the Neuroprotective Effect of Centella asiatica Against Sleep Deprivation Induced Anxiety Like Behaviour, Oxidative Damage and Neuroinflammation."

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