Gotu Kola

November 12, 2012

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola, Centella asiatica, is a perennial plant native to India, China and other parts of Asia. The fan-shaped leaves and stems of the plant possess immense medicinal value, and have been used to treat a variety of conditions.

Description of the Herb

Gotu kola is a small plant with fan-shaped leaves, white or purple-to-pink flowers, and small oval fruits. The extracts from the leaves and stems of the plant are made into teas, tinctures, capsules, tablets and ointments. The herb is not recommended for children under the age of 18 years. Most adults may take 1,000 to 4,000 mg of the herb, three times a day. Your doctor may also prescribe 30 to 60 drops of the gotu kola tincture, depending on the severity of your condition.

Medicinal Uses

Gotu kola has been used traditionally in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic Medicine to treat a variety of ailments.

  • Gotu kola supplements may help improve your memory by protecting the neurons of the brain that are responsible for short-term and long-term memory as well as for spatial navigation
  • The herb is also a powerful anti-convulsant, or an anti-seizure agent. It impacts the cholinergic system, responsible for sending messages through the nervous system, which results in seizures.
  • Cerebral ischemia occurs due to reduced oxygen supply to the brain, and is characterized by dizziness, slurred speech and a loss of coordination. Untreated cases may lead to brain damage and death. Some animal studies have indicated that Gotu kola may help treat and prevent cerebral ischemia.
  • The herb may also help treat cancers of breast, stomach and liver by causing apoptosis, or programmed cell death of the cancer cells.
  • The triterpenoids found in the herb can help heal wounds and strengthen the skin. They may also boost the antioxidant activity at the site of the injury, thereby preventing the free-radical mediated damage of the cells. They can help treat minor burns, psoriasis and stretch marks.

Side Effects

Gotu kola supplements are generally safe. However, side effects such as headache, upset stomach, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness may occur occasionally. It may also interfere with certain cholesterol-lowering and anti-diabetic medications. Talk to your doctor to make sure the supplement is right for you. Most experts believe that more research is needed before gotu can replace your existing cancer or seizure medications.

You should also remember that the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the production of herbal supplements in the United States. Hence, it is your responsibility to ensure quality of the products you intend to use.

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