An herb you may not be familiar with is gotu kola, which is credited with helping remedy everything from the common cold to circulatory issues. It's long history of use in Asia makes it worth learning more about.
What Is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has been widely used throughout Asia for centuries. A popular herb in both Ayurveda (traditional Indian medicine) and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), gotu kola is a perennial plant that is a member of the parsley family. The green leaves and stems of the plant are used to make medicine and supplements.
While you may guess it has something to do with cola drinks, there is no connection -- the kola nut is what is used to make soda and other foods or beverages.
Benefits of Gotu Kola
There have been many uses for gotu kola over the years, with some considering it a general wellness tonic. Here are the most popular ones, which have been examined at in laboratory settings:
Skin Conditions -- Gotu kola is said to assist in the healing of wounds and can therefore be beneficial for those who suffer from injuries as well as skin conditions like psoriasis or acne. The chemicals within gotu kola attributed with this benefit are called triterpenoids, a type of triterpene, which support healthy circulation and antioxidant activity. Gotu kola also supports collagen production.Anxiety -- Triterpenoids may also be able to help reduce anxiety, according to early studies. In Ayurvedic medicine, it's recommended for individuals suffering from mental issues like depression and even poor memory, as well as fatigue (although it contains no caffeine).Infections -- Gotu kola has anti-inflammatory actions within the body and can help fight infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, including the common cold and the flu.Varicose Veins -- Due to its ability to improve circulation, gotu kola may be helpful for those who suffer from painful and swollen varicose veins in the lower extremities. Improving blood flow by strengthening the veins and blood pressure prevents blood from collecting within the limbs.
These benefits were recognized in a 2010 pharmaceutical review published in the Indian Journal of Pharmacological Review. Larger human studies are needed to confirm these actions by gotu kola within the body, but the early evidence is promising.
Gotu kola supplements are available in a variety of forms. Capsules and tablets of varying strengths can be found or you can try drinking a gotu kola tea or adding a liquid extract or tincture (includes alcohol) to water if you aren't a fan of pills. Lastly, gotu kola is included in topical formulas, like creams or gels to reduce the appearance of scars and stretch marks.
Use of gotu kola products is only recommended for those above the age of 18. Gotu kola isn't intended for long-term use, as it could have negative effects on the liver. Anyone who has been diagnosed with a medical condition, especially those mentioned above, shouldn't take gotu kola without first speaking to their doctor. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding shouldn't take oral gotu kola supplements, but can use topical formulas at their doctor's discretion.