Gotu kola, the ‘herb of long life’, is a staple in traditional Eastern medicine since medicine began. In the West, we use it to support peripheral blood flow, helping to warm icy fingers and toes and improve varicose veins. In current news, gotu kola is making a major comeback as studies confirm its benefits for memory and brainpower. Could this herald the end of the ‘lost-keys’ syndrome?
What is Gotu Kola?
Let’s address the details first. Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a member of the parsley family that’s indigenous to Asia, South Africa and countries in the South Pacific. Over the centuries, the herb has been prescribed to treat a startling range of ailments, from syphilis, hepatitis and stomach ulcers to mental fatigue, epilepsy, diarrhoea, skin conditions such as psoriasis, and asthma. Modern research reveals that gotu kola contains compounds called triterpenoids, which are mainly responsible for wound-healing and vascular effects. Amino acids, beta carotene and fatty acids have also been identified. It’s an adaptogenic herb – a safe, non-toxic solution to help your body adapt to stress of all forms. Adaptogenic herbs improve your body’s strength, energy, stamina and endurance, and bolster mental clarity.
Health benefits of gotu kola
In the modern world, gotu kola is prescribed to treat:
Blood circulation and varicose veins.
Many people suffer with chronic venous insufficiency (that’s when the valves in the leg veins don’t work properly, blocking the flow of blood and causing it to pool in the veins. You’ll have seen that condition in people with varicose veins). In eight studies, some 500 people with this condition were treated with gotu kola. The results were astonishing. Their symptoms – poor circulation, swollen and aching leg veins – were significantly reduced. (That’s good news for frequent fliers too – take gotu kola for two days before flying, during the flight, and on the day you land. You’ll experience less fluid retention and ankle swelling.)
Gotu kola can help improve brain function and memory after a stroke.
Older people who take gotu kola certainly report that it helps their memory. (Found the keys!) The herb’s effect on circulation may be partly responsible – triterpene compounds in gotu kola help improve the health of blood vessels and connective tissue, and enhance the chemical messengers (the neurotransmitters) in the brain.
Lab and animal studies show that gotu kola helps protect brain cells from toxicity – and the plaque that’s associated with Alzheimer’s.
Anxiety and stress
Gotu kola may help ease anxiety and stress, especially in people with anxiety disorder. That’s good for memory too, as anxiety can affect short-term memory.
Depression and Insomnia
People taking gotu kola for their anxiety disorder reported that it also helped with depression and insomnia.
The herb has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce inflammation in the joints. Triterpenoid compounds in the herb appear to stimulate collagen production in bones, cartilage and connective tissue. That’s good news for arthritis sufferers.
Increased collagen production may also support wound healing and reduce scarring. Further tests are needed though.
Gotu kola is also said to support the immune system; support detoxing processes in the liver and kidneys; and to help prevent convulsions, making it potentially useful to treat epilepsy.
So, gotu kola supports your brain, memory, your mood, your circulation and your joints. Remember where your keys are now?
What’s Your Take Away?
What benefits of Gotu Kola are you most excited about? Have you or a loved one tried Gotu Kola before? We’d love to know your experience – it’ll be great of you share with us on Facebook.
Acknowledgements & Photo credits
Article compiled for Flora Force by Judy Beyer.
- Arpaia, MR, et al. Effects of centella asiatica extract on mucopolysaccharide metabolism in subjects with varicose veins. 1990.
- Cauffield, JS, et al. Dietary supplements used in the treatment of depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. 1999.
- Cronkleton, E. Everything you need to know about gotu kola. Medically reviewed by Prof Debra Rose Wilson. 2017, Sept. https://www.healthline.com/health/gotu-kola-benefits
- Gohil, KJ, et al. Pharmacological review on Centella asiatica: A potential herbal cure-all. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 2010, Sept. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3116297/
- Patel, K. Centella asiatica. Research analysis. Examine.com. 2017. https://examine.com/supplements/centella-asiatica/