Understanding the History of Gotu Kola as it was used then and the today’s application
Gotu kola is a kind of vegetation which has been instrumental in the traditional treatment of various diseases in most countries including India, China, and Indonesia. Scientifically it is known as Centella asiatica. Some of the major areas of applications included healing of wounds, improvement of mental clarity as well as treating skin conditions such as leprosy and psoriasis. This plant has been singled out to one of the most used herbs in providing alterative treatment for so many health complications. There is a lot being said about this herb and we want to get the clear understanding of the history of gotu kola as it was then and how it is beneficial currently. The roles of this herb are endless. Some people use it to treat respiratory infections such as colds and in the past China used it primarily for that among many other ways. And because of its ability to offer treatment solutions, it was nick named “the fountain of life”. The motivation of this nick name was because legend has it that an ancient Chinese herbalist lived for more than two centuries (200 years) and his long life was credited to gotu kola.
Archaeologically, gotu kola has also been used to treat some STI including syphilis, hepatitis, stomach ulcers, mental fatigue, epilepsy, diarrhea, fever, and asthma. Currently this herb is penetrating in to the American and Europe market where it is being used to treat varicose veins and chronic venous insufficiency. This is a health condition where blood pools in the legs. Besides that it’s also used in ointments to treat psoriasis and help heal minor wounds thereby keeping the good health of the skin. Experts at AWAREmed Health and Wellness Resource Center under Doctor Akoury’s care are reiterating that gotu kola should not be mistaken for kola nut (Cola nitida) because they are not the same. Doctor Akoury explains that unlike kola nut, gotu kola does not have caffeine and is not a stimulant.
- Gotu kola is a perpetual plant native to India, Japan, China, Indonesia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the South Pacific.
- It is member of the parsley family it has no taste or smell.
- It thrives in and around water.
- It has small fan shaped green leaves with white or light purple-to-pink flowers, and small oval fruit.
- The leaves and stems of the gotu kola plant are used as medicine.
Gotu kola has very good medicinal characteristics and can be very useful in treatment of so many health complications including the following:
Venous insufficiency and varicose veins – When blood vessels lose their elasticity, blood pools in the legs and fluid leaks out of the blood vessels. That causes the legs to swell (venous insufficiency). Several small studies suggest gotu kola may help reduce swelling and improve blood flow. In a study of 94 people with venous insufficiency, those who took gotu kola saw their symptoms improve compared to those who took placebo. In another study of people with varicose veins, ultrasound tests showed that people who took gotu kola has less leakage of fluid.
Wound healing and skin lesions – Gotu kola has chemicals called triterpenoids. In animal and lab studies, these compounds seem to help heal wounds. For example, some studies suggest that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, boost antioxidants in wounds, and increase blood supply to the area. Based on these findings, gotu kola has been applied to the skin, or used topically, for minor burns, psoriasis, preventing scars after surgery, and preventing or reducing stretch marks.
Anxiety – These same chemicals triterpenoids seem to decrease anxiety and increase mental function in mice. One human study found that people who took gotu kola were less likely to be startled by a new noise than those who took placebo. Since the “startle noise” response can be a way to tell if someone is anxious, researchers think that gotu kola might help reduce anxiety symptoms. However the dose applied for this study was very high making it impossible to say how gotu kola might be used to treat anxiety.
Scleroderma – A single study of 13 women with scleroderma found that gotu kola decreased joint pain and skin hardening, and improved finger movement.
Insomnia – Gotu kola acts as a sedative when given to animals in tests. Because of that, it is sometimes suggested to help people with insomnia. But no human studies have been done to see whether it works and whether it’s safe.
Gotu kola is available in teas and as dried herbs, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and ointments. Products should be stored in a cool, dry place and used before the expiration date on the label. At no given time should gotu kola be used for patients under the age of 18 years old. Nonetheless as for the adults, the standard dose of gotu kola (Centella asiatica) will fluctuate depending on what kind you use and what you use it for. Getting your doctor’s opinion would be highly recommended in choosing the right dose for you.
Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations with external use, headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness. These tend to happen with high doses of gotu kola.
Pediatric use – Gotu kola is not recommended for children.
Geriatric Use – The dosage of 65 years old and above should take a lower dose of gotu kola. Your health care provider can help you determine the right dose for you, which can be increased slowly over time.
Gotu kola may interact with the following medications:
Drugs that affect the liver – Gotu kola contain elements which are likely to injure the liver of the patient. It must therefore be noted that taking it along with some other medications that also can harm the liver may cause liver damage.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs (including statins) – In some studies where animal were involved it was established that gotu kola raised cholesterol levels of those animals. Therefore it can may also do the same (raise cholesterol levels) in humans. However this is still a hypothesis since it is yet to be confirmed.
Diabetes medications – While carrying out a study in animal it was established that, gotu kola seems to increase blood sugar levels. Individuals with diabetes should not take gotu kola without first talking to their doctor.
Diuretics (water pills) – Gotu kola seems to act like a diuretic, meaning it helps the body get of excess fluid. Taking diuretic medications and gotu kola could cause your body to lose too much fluid, upsetting the balance of electrolytes you need. The same is true of taking gotu kola with herbs that have diuretic effects, such as green tea, astragalus or gingko.
Sedatives – Because gotu kola acts like a sedative, it might make some drugs taken for anxiety or insomnia stronger. The same is true for herbs taken for anxiety or insomnia, such as valerian.