The most interesting health benefits of Gotu kola include its ability to prevent hair loss, speed wound healing, aid in skin care, boost cognition, soothe nervous disorders, alleviate respiratory issues, reduce toxicity, protect the heart, enhance mood, and heal the circulatory system.
What is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola is a small perennial herbaceous plant from the wetlands of Asia that can have remarkable effects on the body when consumed. This herb is also known as Centella Asiatica, Centella, Brahmi, and Asiatic pennywort. Centella Asiatica was used in ancient India, Africa, and China for its powerful medicinal properties. The plant grows in tropical, wet areas and bears 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. They can be made into gels, creams, capsule supplements, ointments, and other forms to help with several ailments from anxiety to cardiovascular conditions. The high concentration of unique triterpenoid compounds (also known as saponins) found in it is the reason behind this plant’s power.
Health Benefits of Gotu Kola
Let us look at some of the powerful health benefits of gotu kola in detail below:
A research study in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal shows according to the Ayurvedic system of medicine, gotu kola is one of the most important rejuvenating herbs for nerve and brain cells and is capable of increasing intelligence, longevity and memory.
Gotu kola is rich in antioxidants and contains saponins which improve 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. According to research, gotu kola is also effective in the treatment of wounds, burns, and hypertrophic scars.
Some studies also suggest that the use of gotu kola or its components may be useful in the treatment of psoriasis and scleroderma. Gotu kola is a common ingredient of cosmetics applied to skin photoaging also in cellulite and striae.
Gotu kola actually plays two important roles in the circulatory system. Firstly, the plant extract can protect and 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. This also alleviates problems caused due to poor blood circulation such as swelling, leg heaviness, and pain.
Relieves Psoriasis Symptoms
Gotu kola can inhibit skin cell reproduction. Although not potent, it can be used as an herbal aid in providing relief from symptoms of psoriasis, which is a hyperproliferative skin disorder.
Gotu kola helps prevents blood clotting and as a herbal remedy may aid in alleviating the symptoms of thrombosis, which is defined as blood clotting in the blood vessels.
Asiaticoside present in the gotu kola acts as an anti-gastric ulcer drug. It increases cell healing and reduces ulcers.
Anxiety & Depression
Gotu kola can have a positive effect on anxiety issues as it lowers the stress hormone, cortisol, and increases serotonin and dopamine levels. It effectively decreases the frequency and severity of anxiety attacks and episodes in a group of subjects who suffered from some form of GAD (General Anxiety Disorder). The anti-inflammatory properties of this herb can lower the signs of depression and despair. It is also known to enhance spirituality, thus, sometimes referred to as the ‘Herb of Enlightenment’.
Gotu kola extract has a positive impact on the circulatory system, thereby oxygenating more of the brain and allowing cognition to improve. The antioxidant effects of this herb are also somewhat responsible, as they can stimulate neural pathways by eliminating plaque and free radicals from the brain.
Prevents Nervous Disorders
Gotu kola has an anxiolytic activity that helps relieve stress, enhance mood, and induce sleep, thereby calming the nervous system. For those who suffer from disorders like epilepsy, it can have a powerful effect on the quality of life and the severity of the conditions if taken regularly.
The gotu kola extract has been traditionally used to improve memory in India as Ayurvedic treatment. Studies done on lab rats confirm that it has a memory-enhancing property, and therefore it can slow down the effects of Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia, and dementia.
Prevents Stomach Upset
Traditionally, Centella Asiatica leaves were used to remedy 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.
Detoxifies 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 ease tension on the kidneys and generally removes toxins quickly while keeping our energy up and our fluid balance even.
Regulates Blood Pressure
By relieving tension and anxiety in the arteries and blood vessels, gotu kola is able to regulate blood pressure and reduce strain on the cardiovascular system. This protects the heart and prevents diseases like atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes from occurring.
Gotu Kola Side Effects
Pregnant and breastfeeding women, those undergoing surgery, as well as individuals with liver disease are advised to avoid Gotu kola. Some common side effects are as follows:
- Allergy: Allergic reactions to Centella Asiatica include redness, itchiness or hives on the skin.
- Gastrointestinal distress: Some may suffer from upset stomach, nausea or a strangely colored stool.
- Drowsiness: Dizziness, headache, and drowsiness are possible side effects.
Research shows that Gotu kola extract therapy of 1000 mg/day and 750 mg/day is fairly effective in improving cognitive impairment after a cerebral infarction, but is not more beneficial than a therapy of folic acid 3 mg/day. Gotu kola treatment showed better performance in delayed memory recall compared with folic acid treatment.