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Gotu Kola

Health Benefits, Uses, Side Effects & More

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Updated May 27, 2014

Gotu Kola

What is Gotu Kola?

A member of the parsley family, gotu kola (Centella asiatica) has long been used in traditional Chinese medicine and ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India) to heal skin conditions such as psoriasis, fight mental fatigue, and treat asthma, fever, and stomach ulcers.

Now sold as an herbal supplement, gotu kola is marketed as a memory-booster and natural remedy for anxiety and depression.

Health Benefits of Gotu Kola

Gotu kola has yet to be extensively researched, but a few studies have shown that the herb may help with these health problems:

1) Anxiety

Triterpenoids (a group of compounds found in gotu kola) may ease anxiety, according to a 2000 study. In an experiment involving 40 healthy adults, scientists discovered that those taking gotu kola were less likely to be startled by new noises. Since the "acoustic startle response" may be a marker of anxiety, the study's authors suggest that gotu kola could decrease anxiety symptoms.

Learn about other Natural Remedies For Anxiety.

2) Mood Disorders

In another small study, 28 older adults took gotu kola at various doses (250, 500, and 750 mg) once daily for two months. Results revealed that study members on the highest dose had improvements in mood, as well as memory and cognitive function.

See Natural Mood Enhancers for alternative therapies that may lift your mood. Also find out about Essential Oils That May Boost Your Mood and 5 Foods For a Better Mood.

3) Varicose Veins

A number of small studies indicate that gotu kola may stimulate circulation and help fight varicose veins and venous insufficiency (a condition that impairs flow of blood through the veins).

Learn about other Natural Remedies For Varicose Veins.

Taking Gotu Kola Extract

Available in most health food stores and shops that specialize in herbal remedies, gotu kola can be taken in capsule, tincture, or tea form. Ointments containing gotu kola are used to treat wounds and other skin problems.

If you're considering using gotu kola for longer than six weeks, make sure to consult with your doctor.

Side Effects of Gotu Kola

Although side effects are rare, some people taking gotu kola may experience upset stomach, headache, and drowsiness. Because gotu kola can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, it's important to limit your sun exposure and use sunscreen while taking it.

Medical experts advise against using gotu kola if you have a history of squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell skin cancer, or melanoma. People with liver disease should also avoid gotu kola.

Sources:

Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, Shlik J. "A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects." Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000 20(6):680-4.

Cesarone MR, Belcaro G, De Sanctis MT, Incandela L, Cacchio M, Bavera P, Ippolito E, Bucci M, Griffin M, Geroulakos G, Dugall M, Buccella S, Kleyweght S, Cacchio M. "Effects of the total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in venous hypertensive microangiopathy: a prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized trial." Angiology 2001 52 Suppl 2:S15-18.

MacKay D. "Hemorrhoids and varicose veins: a review of treatment options." Alternative Medicine Review 2001 6(2):126-40.

Wattanathorn J, Mator L, Muchimapura S, Tongun T, Pasuriwong O, Piyawatkul N, Yimtae K, Sripanidkulchai B, Singkhoraard J. "Positive modulation of cognition and mood in the healthy elderly volunteer following the administration of Centella asiatica." Journal of Ethnopharmacology 2008 5;116(2):325-32.

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