Gotu Kola: "Two leaves a day keep old age away"

In India, Gotu kola is regarded as perhaps the most spiritual of all herbs. 

It is often called 'the elixir of life', and 'a pharmacy in one herb', that might help to relieve the pain of rheumatism and arthritis; to increase brain capacity; reduce wrinkles and for longevity. In Ancient China, the herb was a principal ingredient in an elixir called 'fo ti tieng', a mixture that was called the fountain of youth. Gotu kola was eaten regularly by Li Ching-Yuen who purportedly lived to be 197 or 256 years old.

Growing in some areas of the Himalayas, gotu kola is used by yogis to improve meditation. It is said to develop the crown chakra, the energy center at the top of the head and to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is said to resemble. It is regarded as one of the most important rejuvenative herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine. Sri Lankans noticed that elephants, renowned for their longevity, munched on the leaves of the plant. Thus the leaves became known as a promoter of long life. It is said to fortify the immune system, both cleansing and feeding it and to strengthen the adrenals. It has been used as a pure blood tonic and for skin health. It has also been used to promote restful sleep. Gotu kola is often confused with kola nut. Due to this confusion, some people assume the rejuvenating properties of gotu kola are due to the stimulating effects of caffeine contained in kola nut. In fact, gotu kola is not related to kola nut and contains no caffeine.

In the ancient Indian system of medicine known as Ayurveda, Gotu kola has been used for thousands of years. Gotu Kola is a rejuvenative nervine recommended for nervous disorders, including epilepsy, senility and premature aging. As a brain tonic, it is said to aid intelligence and memory. It strengthens the adrenal glands while cleansing the blood to treat skin impurities. It is said to combat stress and depression, energize flagging mental powers, increase libido, ward off a nervous breakdown and improve reflexes. It energizes the central nervous system and rebuilds energy reserves.
Gotu Kola can relieve high blood pressure and helps the body defend against various toxins. 

It is used to treat rheumatism, blood diseases, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, hepatitis and high blood pressure. It is a mild diuretic that can help shrink swollen membranes and aid in the elimination of excess fluids. It hastens the healing of wounds.
Gotu kola has a positive effect on the circulatory system. It improves the flow of blood while strengthening the veins and capillaries. It has been used successfully to treat phlebitis, leg cramps, and abnormal tingling of the extremities. It soothes and minimizes varicose veins and helps to minimize scarring.

It reduces scarring when applied during inflammatory period of the wound. It was found effective when applied on patients with third degree burns, when the treatment commenced immediately after the accident. Daily local application to the affected area along with intramuscular injections, limited the shrinking of the skin as it healed. It is known to prevent infection and inhibit scar formation. It is also useful in repairing skin and connective tissues and smoothing out cellulite.

The primary active constituent is triterpenoid compounds. Saponins (also called triterpenoids) known as asiaticoside, madecassoside, and madasiatic acid are the primary active constituents. These saponins beneficially affect collagen, for example, inhibiting its production in hyperactive scar tissue.

Due mostly to the actions of asiaticoside and madecassoside that it contains, gotu kola may prevent, delay and treat a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency. This occurs when valves in the veins that carry blood back to the heart are weak or damaged and blood collects in the veins of the legs. This collection of blood can lead to varicose veins, spider veins, or sores on the legs. More serious results can include blood clots in the legs. Asiaticoside and madecassoside may help keep veins and other blood vessels from leaking. Because it strengthens the walls of blood vessels, gotu kola may also be effective for slowing retinopathy, the gradual break down of the retina in the eyes. It may also help to relieve hemorrhoids. These same effects are thought to strengthen the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, making gotu kola potentially useful for treating ulcers.

Gotu kola has long been used in topical, oral, and injected forms to treat leprosy. In addition to its ability to heal the sores associated with leprosy, gotu kola may also have anti-bacterial properties. Evidence from studies shows that asiaticoside may damage the cell walls of the bacteria that cause leprosy. The weakened bacteria are easier for the body's immune system to eliminate.

Studies Done on Gotu Kola

More recent studies confirm many of Gotu Kola's traditional uses and also suggest possible new applications for Gotu Kola, such as lowering high blood pressure, treating venous insufficiency (pooling of blood in the veins, usually in the legs), boosting memory and intelligence, easing anxiety, and speeding the healing of wounds and burns.

According to recent studies, gotu kola does offer support for healthy memory function. A study conducted in 1992 by K. Nalini at Kasturba Medical College showed an impressive improvement in memory in rats which were treated with the extract (orally) daily for 14 days before the experiment. The retention of learned behavior in the rats treated with gotu kola was three to 60 times better than that in control animals. Preliminary results in one clinical trial with mentally retarded children was shown to increase scores on intelligence tests (Ba
gchi, 1989). This does not mean gotu kola will improve intelligence for all special or normal children.

According to pharmacological studies, one outcome of gotu kola's complex actions is a balanced effect on cells and tissues participating in the process of healing, particularly connective tissues. One of its constituents, asiaticoside, works to stimulate skin repair and strengthen skin, hair, nails and connective tissue (Kartnig, 1988).  

The compounds present in the gotu kola have been investigated in numerous studies. Initial research conducted during the 1990s suggested that the asiaticocide and thankuniside fractions in the herb may actually reduce fertility in people. This surprising discovery strongly contrasts with one of the main traditional uses of the herb in India, where it  is taken to boost fertility.
Remedies made from Gotu kola have been shown to thin the blood and when used in larger dosages, the herb has been demonstrated to aid in lowering elevated blood sugar levels in patients.

Laboratory studies on animals have shown a definite sedative action using relatively large doses of Gotu kola. The sedative action is induced by two saponin glycosides present in the herb, which are designated brahminoside and brahmoside. Some anti-inflammatory action is also exhibited by another glycoside (madecassoside). A compound called asiaticoside, also seems to stimulate the healing of wounds. 
A List Of Gotu Kola's Benefits

Proponents claim that gotu kola possesses numerous curative qualities. Some practitioners maintain that gotu kola reduces fever and relieves congestion caused by colds and upper respiratory infections. Some women use gotu kola for birth control, and some herbalists claim that gotu kola is an antidote for poisonous mushrooms and arsenic poisoning. Some believe that it can be applied externally to treat snakebites, herpes, fractures, and sprains.

Gotu Kola helps improve blood circulation throughout the body and is therefore considered an overall tonic for rejuvenation and natural repair.  It will help combat fatigue and depression, increase sex drive (it is also considered an aphrodisiac), strengthen the immune system, improve appetite and enhance energy and stamina.

Gotu kola assists a person to think clearer. It was used for centuries in China to improve mental function, and is today a popular supplement for that purpose. It revitalizes brain and nerve cells. There is no person who would actually turn down food that will make them even more intelligent. Sometimes the mind becomes sluggish and thus could possibly use a push. People with difficulties focusing, insomniacs as well as people suffering from attention deficit disorders can all use gotu kola as it calms the brain assisting in gradual recovery. 

One recent study on elderly participants concluded...
"...the present findings suggest the potential of Centella asiatica to attenuate the age-related decline in cognitive function and mood disorder in the healthy elderly. However, the precise mechanism(s) underlying these effects still require further investigation."

This time-honored herb has a reputation for improving concentration and learning ability. It is a restorative tonic for mental decline in old age, because it protects the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain and helps to stimulate circulation.  It is considered a "brain food" that increases mental activity.  Gotu Kola is sometimes known as the "memory herb" that revitalizes the brain cells and helps in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.  It is also believed to prevent aging. 

HEALS BURNS Gotu kola assists the body to heal any burns. It greatly reduces the time of recovery as well as lessening the amount of scarred tissue. Even if you might use this herb for another reason apart from healing a burn, it also has this particular ability which portrays the effectiveness of gotu kola.

FIGHTS DEPRESSION Gotu kola has been shown to be helpful for depression.

ANXIETY Triterpenoids (a group of compounds found in gotu kola) may ease anxiety, according to a 2000 study. In an experiment involving 40 healthy adults, scientists discovered that those taking gotu kola were less likely to be startled by new noises. Since the "acoustic startle response" may be a marker of anxiety, the study's authors suggest that gotu kola could decrease anxiety symptoms.

It restores balance to the nervous system. Its sedative qualities help to treat nervous disorders and neurotic disturbances.  It revitalizes the nerves and is said to be especially effective when used proactively to avoid and treat a nervous breakdown.
Because of it's calming effect, gotu kola can be used for sleep disorders as well.

HEMORRHOIDS By improving circulation and strengthening blood vessels, gotu kola is an effective natural hemorrhoid treatment.

INFLAMMATORY CONDITIONS Gotu kola has anti-inflammatory properties that can aid in the treatment of conditions like arthritis.

SKIN CONDITIONS Acne, eczema, psoriasis, stretch marks, wrinkles and other skin conditions can be treated with gotu kola because of its unique anti-inflammatory and healing properties. One active ingredient in Gotu Kola, asiaticoside, works to stimulate skin repair and to strengthen skin, hair, nails and connective tissue.  The saponin known as asiaticoside beneficially affects collagen, the material that makes up connective tissue and is beneficial for healthy skin.

HAIR LOSS Gotu kola is used in the form of an oil extract to promote hair growth. In one study in alopecic rats, administration of Gotu kola was shown to thicken the epidermis and restore thick hair growth.

CHILDREN Fresh leaves are often given to children in India to treat dysentery, as well as for fevers, abdominal disorders, learning disabilities, asthma, and bronchitis. Gotu kola is not recommended in high dosages or for long periods of times for children.

Gotu Kola supports good cardiovascular and circulatory health. It improves blood circulation, and researchers claim it supports a healthy heart, slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

WATER RETENTION Gotu kola is a very mild diuretic that can be used to treat water retention and edema.

HEALS WOUNDS AND BURNS Traditionally, gotu kola has often been used to speed the healing of wounds and minor burns. Gotu kola contains chemicals called triterpenoids. In animal and lab studies, these compounds appear to help heal wounds. For example, some studies indicate that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, boost antioxidants in wounds, and increase blood supply to the area. Based on these findings, gotu kola has been used topically (applied to the skin) for minor burns, psoriasis, prevention of scar formation following surgery, and prevention or reduction of stretch marks.

ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE Amyloid plaques are consistently found in the brains of alzheimer's disease patients. Lowering the amyloid beta amino acid peptide, which is the main constituent of amyloid plaques appears to be beneficial.

A recent study demonstrated a significant decrease in amyloid beta following 8 month treatment with Gotu Kola. A reduction in amyloid plaques was reduced with a slightly higher dose and long-term treatment regimen. Gotu Kola functions as an antioxidant in vitro, scavenging free radicals, reducing lipid peroxidation and protecting against DNA damage. The data indicates that Gotu Kola can impact the amyloid cascade altering amyloid beta pathology in the brains of mice and modulating components of the oxidative stress response that has been implicated in the neurodegenerative changes that occur with Alzheimer's disease.

SCARS Clinical studies have shown that gotu kola was effective for improving the appearance of unsightly scars. It is especially useful during the healing process, and can even have an impact on deep scarring.

How Much To Take

The adult dosage of gotu kola depends on the condition being treated. It is available as a tea, dried herb, or in capsule or tablet form. The typical tablet dosage of gotu kola is 20-60mg three times per day. If taken as a dried herb, gotu kola can be taken three times daily or 1000-4000mg, three times daily, as a powdered herb in a capsule. Powdered gotu kola leaf can be made into a tea by adding 1-2 teaspoons to 150 ml of boiling water and allowing it to steep for ten to fifteen minutes. Three cups are usually drunk per day. Tincture can also be used at a dose of 10-20 ml three times per day.

It is recommended to take a break from gotu kola once and awhile rather than using it continously.

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  1. Great health info share.
    I have a neighbor who eats raw gotu kola leaves, it is very nutritious and has healing function also.


  2. Thanks for your comment, Frank.

  3. I have read a lot about gotu kola, the best article I read is that it gives positive effects to the brain.

    "Two leaves a day keep old age away" - Sinhalese proverb

  4. Gotu kola is a spectacular herb. Thanks for your comment, Health Info!

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. Gotu kola made my skin clean. I need to know its dosage in no of dried leaves

  7. Gotu kola made my skin clean. I need to know its dosage in no of dried leaves

  8. Just because you've got wrinkles, though, does not necessarily mean that the skin is unhealthy. In fact, it simply means your need to take a closer look a reverse aging
    t your overall health. The place to begin is with what you eat.

  9. i take 5 leaves a day is that ok.

  10. Hi Ariel, hav U seen any changes since u took 5 leaves a day?