Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal herb. Today, it is used by American and European herbalists to help treat a number of problems. According to legend, an ancient Chinese herbalist who used gotu kola lived to be over 200 years old.
Gotu Kola Facts on Healing Effects
Venous Insufficiency and Varicose Veins
An extract of gotu kola containing 70% triterpenic acids (asiaticoside, asiatic acid, and madecassic acid) has demonstrated positive results in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower extremeties and varicose veins. It enhances connective tissue structure, reduces sclerosis (hardening of tissue), and improves blood flow.
Gotu kola extracts have also demonstrated impressive results in the treatment of cellulite by improving the structure and function of veins. In one study, involving 65 patients with cellulite (who had no success with other treatments), 58% had very good results and 20% had satisfactory results.
Chronic Interstitial Cystitis
Chronic interstitial cystitis is a persistent form of bladder irritation not due to infection. Gotu kola can help in the treatment of this medical condition by improving the integrity of the connective tissue that lines the bladder wall.
Gotu kola was shown to decrease joint pain and sclerosis in women with scleroderma according to one study.
The triterpenoids in gotu kola have wound-healing properties. Some studies indicate that these chemicals strengthen the skin, increase blood supply to the affected area, and boosts antioxidants in wounds. Topical preparations have been used to treat minor burns and psoriasis, prevent scar formation after surgery, and prevent or reduce stretch marks.
In one study, gotu kola was helpful in speeding up recovery time after laser surgery for severe periodontal disease.
One study showed that people taking gotu kola were not startled by a new noise (compared to people who took a placebo). Since this is an indicator of anxiety, researchers believe it may help reduce anxiety symptoms.
Although no human studies have been performed, it is suggested that people suffering from insomnia can benefit from taking gotu kola because animal tests have shown it to act as a sedative.
The following are more gotu kola facts:
• Gotu kola can be eaten in a salad or made into a tea (pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of dried herb, cover, steep for 10-15 minutes, and strain). It is also available in the forms of capsules, tablets, and tinctures. For external use, you can make a poultice or use a warm compress.
• Side effects are rare if used as directed but may include stomach upset, dizziness, headache, and extreme drowsiness. Externally, it may cause a burning sensation of rash.
• Gotu kola should not be used for more than 6 weeks without taking a break.
• Gotu kola should not be given to children, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding, or those with liver disease. People over the age of 65 should take lower doses.
• Gotu kola may interact with certain medications, including cholesterol-lowering drugs, diabetes medications, diuretics, and sedatives. Consult with a health care provider if taking any type of medication.
Michael Murray, N.D. and Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine (1998)
University of Maryland Medical Center: Gotu kola - https://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/gotu-kola-000253.htm
Image courtesy of CC-BY-SA-3.0 / Forest & Kim Starr at Wikimedia.
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