Scientifically for clear evidence of benefits of Gotu kola to be established, it has to be from the laboratories. While appreciating the fact that in the ancient times this was not the case and the applications still worked, it would be very important that some scientific evidence be established. To that effect, a lot is being done and currently, some animal and laboratory studies of gotu kola have shown promising results for some uses. Nonetheless a lot more needs to be done and research carried out to determine its benefits in human life. Doctor Dalal Akoury acknowledges that one group of gotu kola compounds that has been extracted and tested in clinical trials is called total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA). And that a few clinical trials in humans have suggested that extracts of gotu kola and TTFCA, when taken by mouth, were more helpful than a placebo at reducing swelling of the legs and feet due to varicose veins and poor circulation, a condition called chronic venous insufficiency.
Even though these findings appeared to have shown the reduction of the “leakage” of blood vessels that seems to contribute to swelling, doctor Akoury recommends that further research is needed to determine whether these results will hold true. It is also important to remember that extracted chemicals such as TTFCA are not the same as the herb itself. Studies of extracts may not show the same results as studies using the raw plant. Like for instance one study in India reported that gotu kola extract slowed the development of tumors in mice and increased their life span. Other studies with rats showed that gotu kola extract had calming effects and prevented ulcers. Animal studies have shown that gotu kola, when applied to the skin or taken by mouth, seems to promote collagen production in wounds, which contributes to healing.
In the quest to finding clear evidence of benefits of gotu kola, laboratory studies when analysed have showed that fresh gotu kola juice was able to slow the growth of tumor cells, but not as much as more purified extracts from the plant. The findings from the laboratory studies have also suggested that extracts of gotu kola could be useful in the treatment of scleroderma and for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer disease. And according to a small number of laboratory studies conducted in India and Europe, the findings suggested that an ointment or gel made from gotu kola is likely to speed up wound healing. However none of these studies have been done on humans, although some of the wound-healing studies also looked promising in rodent tests.
Although animal and laboratory studies look promising for some of these uses, further studies are necessary to determine whether the results hold true for humans. More well-controlled research is needed to understand whether gotu kola will play any role in cancer treatment. And with such finding being established, let us now respond to the next point of concern which is “are there any possibilities of complications?”
Currently this product is sold as a dietary supplement in the United States and many other states across the globe. Unlike pharmaceutical companies that produce drugs (which must provide the FDA with results of detailed testing showing their product is safe and effective before the drug is approved for sale), the companies that make supplements do not have to show such evidence of safety or health benefits to the FDA before selling their products. Supplement products without any reliable scientific evidence of health benefits may still be sold as long as the companies selling them do not claim the supplements can prevent, treat, or cure any specific disease. Some such products may not contain the amount of the herb or substance that is written on the label, and some may include other substances (contaminants).
Though the FDA has written new rules to improve the quality of manufacturing processes for dietary supplements and the accurate listing of supplement ingredients, these rules do not address the safety of supplement ingredients or their effects on health when proper manufacturing techniques are used.
Majority of such supplements have not been tested to find out if they interact with medicines, foods, or other herbs and supplements. Even though some reports of interactions and harmful effects may be published, full studies of interactions and effects are not often available. Because of these limitations, any information on ill effects and interactions below should be considered incomplete.
As for the Gotu kola, even though it is generally considered safe, there are no large clinical studies in humans to fully document side effects, however:
- When used on the skin, possible side effects may include the burning sensation, itching, or allergic rash.
- Stomach irritation and nausea have been observed when the herb is taken by mouth.
- Drowsiness has been reported, especially when the herb is taken in larger doses.
- High doses of gotu kola have been reported to increase blood sugar and raise cholesterol levels.
- A few cases of hepatitis (liver inflammation) have been reported in people taking gotu kola.
- It may increase sensitivity to the sun therefore it may be necessary that if you are using gotu kola then avoiding sunlight or use of sunscreen becomes appropriate.
- This herb can cause allergic reactions in some.
- Gotu kola impairs fertility in mice, but human effects are less well known.
In addition, the potential interactions between gotu kola and other drugs and herbs should be considered. Some of these combinations may be dangerous. Always tell your doctor and pharmacist about any herbs you are taking. This herb is not recommended for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding. Relying on this type of treatment alone and avoiding or delaying conventional medical care for cancer may have serious health consequences. Experts at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center under the able leadership of doctor Akoury’s care are very much available to help you with any concerns you may be having about the use of not just gotu kola, but also other herbal medications. You can schedule for an appointment with doctor Akoury today for the commencement of treatment where possible.