Individuals seeking gotu kola information may find it in abundance, but sorting through facts and fiction may take some time. Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a perennial plant native to India and the southern United States. It grows along rivers and streams or in marshy, wet areas. In Ayurvedic medicine, a system of herbal medicine used in India for hundreds of years, Ayurvedic physicians suggest gotu kola to treat a wide variety of digestive and skin ailments. It's also used as an overall health tonic.
Gotu Kola Information
Gotu kola is actually related to parsley, and it may be harvested in the wild or grown commercially. The leaves or aerial parts are used medicinally and as a culinary herb, often served in salads as part of Indian cuisine. Dried gotu kola leaves are made into a powder and taken orally in capsule or powder form as part of Ayurvedic treatments, while a paste may also be made from the power and water and applied to the skin to treat skin disorders.
Historically in India, China and Asian countries, gotu kola has been used to treat:
- Skin disorders, including leprosy, eczema and skin ulcers
- Common colds, bronchitis, and coughs
In the United States, gotu kola is used for skin disorders as well as an overall tonic herb. It's anti-inflammatory properties are thought to help with conditions such as arthritis and poor circulation.
The herb has a long history of use throughout the Asian world, but research among Western scientists and doctors has only just begun.
Other research conducted in India and reported on the American Cancer Society website showed that purified extracts of gotu kola appeared to slow the development of tumors in mice. Other studies using gotu kola show it to have some effect on tumor cell development in laboratory studies, but the American Cancer Society cautions that these studies are preliminary and more research is needed.
The active ingredient in gotu kola, triterpenoid saponins, appears to increase blood flow to the wound site, which may help it heal faster. It also strengthens skin cells and provides additional antioxidants to the wounds site. Gotu kola may be used for burns, wounds, psoriasis, and to prevent scars. Skin salves made from gotu kola and other herbal extracts are available over the counter at health food stores and pharmacies stocking herbal products nationwide.
Gotu kola may also be recommended to relieve anxiety and insomnia. The University of Maryland Medical Center also reports that gotu kola has among its side effects a slight sedative effect which showed up in animal studies.
Safety, Precautions and Contraindications
Gotu kola may affect liver function. Do not take it more than six weeks at a time unless under the guidance of a physician or naturopathic doctor. Pregnant and nursing women should not take gotu kola.
Oddly enough, gotu kola has also been implicated in tumor development in mice as well as showing the ability to inhibit or slow the growth of tumors. Another active ingredient in this herb, asiaticoside, may be the culprit responsible for tumor growth. Tumors appeared most frequently on the skin, so it's recommended that anyone with a history of skin cancer, skin tags or unusual skin growths should not take gotu kola.
Gotu kola may interact with medications to lower cholesterol, diabetes medications, and sedatives, so as with all herbs, talk to your doctor first if you are taking any medicines, and be sure to tell your doctor about all the herbs, vitamins and supplements you are taking.
Because this herb has been used for such a long time and in many cultures, gotu kola information abounds. Reading through it, you might believe it to be the fountain of youth. One Chinese herbalist was rumored to live 200 years thanks to a tonic of gotu kola. While it's doubtful that any herb harbors the fountain of youth, gotu kola information offers a tantalizing glimpse into an herb that appears to benefit many conditions. With further studies and tests, it may yet become one of the many plants that have found their way into conventional medical treatments.