PARTS OF THE PLANT USED MEDICINALLY
The highest concentrations of the active constituents are found in the aerial parts of the plant however; the leaves, seeds, nuts and roots are all used medicinally. Whole plant preparations are also commonly used.
MEDICAL USES OF GOTU KOLA
After oral and topical administration to individuals with injuries, increased cellular proliferation and collagen production were noted at the site of injury, suggesting that Gotu Kola can improve wound healing. Increased collagen synthesis at the injury site was found when the individual was treated with the herbal extract, as evidenced by greater tensile strength of the scar tissue. Studies have also found that consuming Gotu Kola orally produces a significantly greater rate of wound contraction and healing.
Axons are critically important types of nerve cells. The capacity to regenerate axons is an important component of healing following nerve damage. Studies have found that when test subjects were given Gotu Kola extract, they recovered more quickly after nerve damage than individuals who did not take the herb. The group taking Gotu Kola had increased axonal (nerve) regeneration and more rapid functional recovery.
The Western lifestyle of stress, fast food and alcoholic excess, when combined with certain medication can cause ulcers in certain individuals. The fresh juice extract of Gotu Kola at 200 and 600 mg/kg taken twice daily has proven to be protective against aspirin and alcohol-induced gastric ulcers, and has similar effects as the prescription medication for ulcers sucralfate. Gotu Kola significantly induce gastric mucin secretion and mucosal cell glycoprotein production (markers of increased gastric mucosal defense and healing factors).
Poor circulation is a common problem, particularly in the elderly. In a double-blind study, 94 patients who had experienced poor circulation of the extremities for an average of 14 years, were placed into one of three groups:
1. One group took 60mg of Gotu Kola daily
2. Another group took 120 mg of Gotu Kola daily
3. The third group took a placebo for three months.
Individuals who took Gotu Kola at either dose demonstrated significant clinical improvements in limb heaviness, oedema and overall subjective benefit. Blood vessel function was also significantly better when compared to the placebo values.
Airline Flight Fluid Retention
Physical consequences of long-distance flights range from the simple swelling of the lower limbs to the formation of dangerous blood clots such as deep vein thrombosis (DVT). The effectiveness of Gotu Kola to alleviate these conditions was evaluated in 66 flight passengers (men and women with a mean age of 38) travelling in economy class for 3-12 hours. Some people were given 60 mg of Gotu Kola three times per day or a placebo two days before, the day of, and two days after the flight. For the passengers given the Gotu Kola, their ankle swelling was vastly reduced, while the passengers consuming the placebo suffered from ankle swelling and poor circulation. Thus it is prudent to consider taking Gotu Kola whenever you are considering a long haul flight or are particularly worried about poor circulation and deep vein thrombosis (DVT), and especially if you are travelling ‘economy’!
Diabetic Vascular Damage
Diabetes is characterized by increased skin blood flow and decreased venous return, resulting in blood pooling and ulceration. In more severe cases, diabetic vascular damage can lead to blindness and amputations. Forty-eight patients with diabetic vascular damage were put into one of three treatment groups for six months where one group took
60mg of Gotu Kola twice daily, the second group took a placebo, and the third group had no treatment. The researchers concluded those taking Gotu Kola had significant increases in blood flow from 6.4 percent to 23.9 percent at three months and 25.9 percent at six months (p<0.05). The treatment did not alter the diabetic’s fasting blood sugar levels.
Gotu Kola has long been recommended for the treatment of scars. In one clinical trial, 227 patients were divided into two groups and treated with oral Gotu Kola alone, or surgical scar revision plus Gotu Kola at doses of 60-150 mg daily for up to 18 months. In the Gotu Kola only group, 116 of 139 patients (82%) experienced relief of symptoms and disappearance of inflammation. In the 88 subjects in the combined surgery and Gotu Kola group, 72 percent demonstrated improvement. The placebo group had no significant improvements. In addition to its oral use, Gotu Kola has been used as a topical cream in a comprehensive scar management program. Observationally, it was found to improve scar maturity from an average of six months without treatment to three months with treatment.7
DRUG INTERACTIONS WITH GOTU KOLA
Although Gotu Kola, like any herbal medicine, can conflict with medications, no significant herb/drug interactions with Gotu Kola have been reported. As a precaution it is advised that before using this herb or any other herbal preparation, to consult your health care professional.
THERAPEUTIC/SAFE DOSAGES OF GOTU KOLA
Gotu Kola can be purchased in most health food stores around Australia. Apart from some individuals being sensitive to it, Gotu Kola is remarkably safe with up to 6 grams a day being able to be consumed without adverse side effects. However, most trials use 2-6g per day for the benefits listed in this article or 60-150mg daily of the concentrated extract.
Studies have found that short and long term consumption is beneficial for the treatment of scars, vascular insufficiency (poor circulation) and ulcers.
OTHER HERBS THAT CAN BE USED WITH GOTU KOLA
As with many herbs, combinations can be used to boost to their therapeutic value. Herbs that can be prescribed with Gotu Kola include:
- Ginkgo. In many ways its actions are similar to Gotu Kola however, in my opinion, Ginkgo may be a more potent inducer of blood flow to the brain, where as Gotu Kola is more effective at increasing circulation to the lower extremities.
- Marshmallow. Best known for it’s use in the production of confectionary, Marshmallow is also a wonderful, synergistic herb when added to Gotu Kola. Marshmallow coats the inside of the digestive tract, which helps sooth and heal ulcerations.
- Liquorice. Often combined with Marshmallow, Liquorice help sooth the GI tract, and also possesses an anti-viral activity. Liquorice also improves the function of cortisol in the body, thus reducing inflammation. However Liquorice should be avoided during pregnancy or by people with high blood pressure conditions.
- Witch Hazel. Famous for its use in varicose veins, Witch Hazel has amazing properties that assist with venous insufficiency and vascular strength.
- Comfrey. Topically, comfrey is a wonderful soothing herb which will help with the healing of wounds. Comfrey should not be taken internally.
Gotu Kola is a highly prized herb and has been used for thousands of years for the treatment of sluggish circulation, gut ulceration and the healing of wounds. Clinical trials now support these uses and there is weighty scientific data that supports the medicinal uses of this herb. While Gotu Kola is generally regarded as safe, interactions between this herb and medical drugs are possible. If you are on medication of any kind, please check with your health care professional before taking any herbs.
Bhavan BV. Selected Medicinal Plants of India. Bombay, India; Tata Press; 1992.
Shetty BS, Udupa SL, Udupa AL, Somayaji SN. Effect of Gotu Kola asiatica L (Umbelliferae) on normal and dexamethasone-suppressed wound healing in Wistar Albino rats. Int J Low Extrem Wounds 2006;5:137-143
3 Soumyanath A, Zhong YP, Gold SA, et al. Gotu Kola asiatica accelerates nerve regeneration upon oral administration and contains multiple active fractions increasing neurite elongation in vitro. J Pharm Pbarmacol 2005;57:1221-1229.
4 Sairam K, Rao CV, Goel RK. Effect of Gotu Kola asiatica Linn on physical and chemical factors induced gastric ulceration and secretion in rats. Indian J Exp Biol 2001;39:137-142.
5 Pointel JP, Boccalon H, Cloarec M, et al. Titrated extract of Gotu Kola asiatica (TECA) in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Angiology 1987;38:46-50.
6 Cesarone MR, Incandela L, De Sanctis MT, et al. Flight microangiopathy in medium- to long-distance flights: prevention of edema and microcirculation alterations with total triterpenic fraction of Gotu Kola asiatica. Angiology 2001;52:S33-S37.
7 Widgerow AD, Chait LA, Stals R, Stals PJ. New innovations in scar management. Aesthetic Plast Surg 2000;24:227-234.
The information contained on this website is for educational purposes only. It is not provided to diagnose, prescribe or treat any condition of the body. The information on this website should not be used as a substitute for medical counselling with a health professional.