Some of the most interesting health benefits of gotu kola include its ability to speed wound healing, improve the health of the skin, boost cognition, soothe nervous disorders, treat respiratory issues, reduce toxicity, protect the heart, and heal the circulatory system.
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What is Gotu Kola?
While you may not be familiar with gotu kola, this small, perennial herbaceous plant from the wetlands of Asia can have a number of remarkable effects on the body when consumed. This herb is also known by its scientific name, Centella asiatica, or more commonly, simply as Centella. Many alternative remedies have their origins in one particular culture or medical tradition, but centella was used in ancient India, Africa, and China for its powerful medicinal properties. The plant grows in tropical, wet areas and blossoms a small white or pink flower from a leaf that looks like a fat half moon. These strangely shaped leaves are the most valuable part of the plant and are most commonly used in herbal medicine.
Currently, many cultures across Asia and Africa use gotu kola leaves in their culinary preparations, such as in soups, salads, or in a wide variety of beverages, but there is another valuable use. The stems and leaves of gotu kola can be used on their own as a simple remedy, or an extract of the leaves can be taken, which is a highly concentrated compound containing all the active ingredients in gotu kola. This can be made into gels, creams, capsule supplements, ointments, and other forms to treat everything from anxiety to cardiovascular conditions. The high concentration of unique triterpenoid compounds (also known as saponins) found in it is the reason for this plant’s power.
Health Benefits of Gotu Kola
With multi purpose uses of this plant, it is more than mandatory for everyone to know the health benefits and include it in our diet to stay fit and fine. Let’s check them.
Gotu kola leaves and salves have long been used in the topical treatment of the skin. The saponins and other organic compounds found in the plant stimulate the healing process at the site of wounds. By stimulating blood flow to the cells and protecting against infections, it can speed the healing process.
In a related benefit, the saponins in gotu kola are particularly adept at improving the appearance of the skin. many cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies are interested in it because of its ability to reduce the appearance of scars, wrinkles, and other blemishes. In particular, it inhibits the accumulation of scar tissue, which helps to keep your skin beautiful, even after an injury or a surgery. This antioxidant activity to reduce signs of aging is one of the reasons gotu kola is becoming so popular in the west.
Studies have directly connected gotu kola consumption to increased cognitive abilities. The main explanation for this is the positive impact gotu kola extract can have on the circulatory system, thereby oxygenating more of the brain and allowing cognition to improve. The antioxidant effects of gotu kola are also somewhat responsible, as they can stimulate neural pathways by eliminating plaque and free radicals in the brain. This has also made it a popular supplement for aging populations, as there is some evidence to suggest that it can slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
A traditional medicine used gotu kola leaves to treat severe pain in the stomach, which we now link to gastric ulcers. This treatment is still considered viable, and the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of the leaves can clearly improve the health of the gut and colon.
Gotu kola actually plays two important roles in the circulatory system, both of which benefit our bodies. Firstly, gotu kola extract can strengthen the walls of blood vessels and capillaries, which prevents blood leakage and optimizes the circulatory system. Secondly, it stimulates the flow of blood, which increases oxygenation in different parts of the body and important organ systems.
Although the exact chemical pathways are still being studied, there is significant evidence that gotu kola can have a positive effect on anxiety issues for a broad range of patients. Research has revealed that it decreased the frequency and severity of anxiety attacks and episodes in a group of subjects who suffered from some form of GAD (General Anxiety Disorder).
Detoxify the Body
Gotu kola has long been known as a mild diuretic and can, therefore, stimulate the release of excess toxins, salts, water, and even fat from the body through urination. This release helps to ease tension on the kidneys and generally remove toxins quickly while keeping our energy up and our fluid balances even.
Studies have linked gotu kola with a decrease in many diseases, including congestive heart failure, and one of the positive associations with the herb was blood pressure. By relieving tension and anxiety in the arteries and blood vessels, it is able to regulate blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system. This lengthens the “life cycle” of the heart and prevents diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes from occurring.
The calming effects of gotu kola that can reduce stress and stimulate healthy sleep can also calm the nervous system directly. For those who suffer from disorders like epilepsy or premature aging, it can have a powerful effect on the quality of life and the severity of the conditions if taken regularly.
There is even some traditional evidence showing that gotu kola is used for an energetic boost in the bedroom. Increasing libido is often a side effect of other herbal remedies, and gotu kola is no exception. In addition to eliminating mental fatigue and increasing energy stores in the body, gotu kola can also bring some fire back to your relationship.
A Final Word of Warning
If you do have an allergic reaction to gotu kola, it will likely appear as redness, itchiness, or hives on the skin. You may also suffer from upset stomach, nausea, or strangely colored stool. Drowsiness is another possible side effect. Granted, these side effects are rare, but the combination of compounds in gotu kola is also quite uncommon, so as always, speak with a trained herbalist or your medical practitioner before adding it to your herbal regimen.