Centella asiatica, commonly referred to as gotu kola, is a swamp plant that grows naturally in India and South Africa, where it is often referred to as “the fountain of youth.” Its leaves and stems are dried and it has been used for a variety of medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Gotu kola may affect the liver or interact with certain medications however, and you should speak with your health-care practitioner before supplementing with it.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
Gotu kola contains numerous nutrients including the phytochecmicals beta-carotene, camphol and campesetol. It is also a source of the minerals calcium, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium and zinc; and the vitamin C, B-1, B-2 and B-3. The American Cancer Society says however, that the compound most likely responsible for its benefit as an herbal remedy, is a compound known as “saponins.” For therapeutic purposes, gotu kola can be taken as a supplement in capsules, extracts or powders, as an ingredient in certain eye drops or made into a tea 2.
List of Purported Benefits
What Does Ginseng Do to My Body Parts?
Gotu kola has a wide range of purported benefits. According to the University of Maryland Medical School, or UMMC, it has been used historically to treat syphilis, hepatitis, stomach ulcers, epilepsy, diarrhea, fever and asthma 3. Phyllis Balch says in her book “Prescription for Nutritional Healing” that it also stimulates the central nervous system and may work as a mild stimulant improving mental clarity, reducing mental fatigue and increasing energy 1. Other potential uses include treating respiratory infections such as colds, reducing fluid retention, stimulating the appetite, increasing sex drive and supporting healthy heart and liver function. It may also increase mental well being, by reducing depression and anxiety, and helping to prevent insomnia. However, most of these benefits are based on anecdotal evidence and not on scientific research.
- Gotu kola has a wide range of purported benefits.
- Other potential uses include treating respiratory infections such as colds, reducing fluid retention, stimulating the appetite, increasing sex drive and supporting healthy heart and liver function.
Gotu kola is also used topically as an ointment to treat a variety of skin conditions. UMMC says that it contains chemicals called triterpenoids which have antioxidant properties that help to heal wounds and minor burns and to prevent scarring after an injury or surgery. Due to the triterpenoids it may also help to strengthen the skin, increase blood flow to it, and consequently to treat skin disorders such as acne and psoriasis. In addition, gotu kola may be beneficial for the prevention and reduction of stretch marks. Balch warns however in that certain individual’s gotu kola may cause dermatitis when applied topically.
- Gotu kola is also used topically as an ointment to treat a variety of skin conditions.
- Balch warns however in that certain individual’s gotu kola may cause dermatitis when applied topically.
To Treat Poor Circulation and Leg Swelling
Dandelion & Breastfeeding
According to the American Cancer Society, some preliminary clinical trials have found that gotu kola may improve poor blood flow to the legs and help to reduce swelling 2. Individuals with a condition called chronic venous insufficiency, characterized by swelling of the legs and feet due to varicose veins and poor circulation, were given an extract of gotu kola. The gotu kola extract seemed to reduce the leakage of blood vessels that contribute to swelling, and the herb was deemed more helpful than the placebo. The American Cancer Society warns however that more research needs to be done, and herbs do not always produce the same benefits as extracts made from them 2.
What Does Ginseng Do to My Body Parts?
Dandelion & Breastfeeding
Eczema, Psoriasis, Ringworm & Arnica
Chinese Herbs to Lower Cholesterol
Medicinal Uses of Carnations
Uses for a Lemon Balm Tincture
The Health Benefits of the Plantain Leaf
What Are Horse Chestnut and Butcher's Broom?
Natural Alternatives to Larazapam
Are There Herbs That Can Help Ice-Pick Scars?
- Prescription for Nutritional Healing; Phyllis Balch
- American Cancer Society: Gotu Kola
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Gotu Kola
- Hashim, P. Centella asiatica in food and beverage applications and its potential antioxidant and neuroprotective effect. Int Food Res J. 2011;18(4):1215-22.
- Gohil KJ, Patel JA, Gajjar AK. Pharmacological review on Centella asiatica: A potential herbal cure-all. Indian J Pharm Sci. 2010;72(5):546–556. doi:10.4103/0250-474X.78519
- Puttarak P, Dilothornsakui P, Saokaew S, et al. Effects of Centella asiatica (L.) urb. on cognitive function and mood-related outcomes: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sci Rep. 2017;7(1):10646. doi:10.1038/s41598-017-09823-9
- Chong N, Aziz Z. A systematic review of the efficacy of Centella asiatica for improvement of the signs and symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:627182. doi:10.1155/2013/627182
- Luzzi R, Belcaro G, Ippolito E. Carotid plaque stabilization induced by the supplement association Pycnogenol® and centella asiatica (Centellicum®). Minerva Cardioangiol. 2016;64(6):603-9.
- Bylka W, Znajdek-Awiżeń P, Studzińska-Sroka E, Brzezińska M. Centella asiatica in cosmetology. Postepy Dermatol Alergol. 2013;30(1):46–49. doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.33378
- Nagoor Meeran MF, Goyal SN, Suchal K, Sharma C, Patil CR, Ojha SK. Pharmacological properties, molecular mechanisms, and pharmaceutical development of asiatic acid: A pentacyclic triterpenoid of therapeutic promise. Front Pharmacol. 2018;9:892. doi:10.3389/fphar.2018.00892
- Penn State Hershey. Gotu kola. Updated 2015.
- Ong GH, Yap CK, Maziah M, Tan SG. Heavy metal accumulation in a medicinal plant Centella asiatica from Peninsular Malaysia. Journal of Biological Sciences, 2011;11:146-155. doi:10.3923/jbs.2011.146.155
Megan Ashton began writing professionally in 2010. When she isn’t writing, she works with clients as the owner of Total Health & Hypnotherapy. She graduated from Western University with a Bachelor of Arts in communications then continued her education at the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, where she became a Registered Holistic Nutritionist. Megan is also a Clinical Hypnotherapist.