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Gotu kola

(Centella asiatica)

 

 

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) grows commonly in warm swampy areas of India, Africa, India, Madagascar, North and South America, China, Indonesia, and Australia. In India it has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for a variety of conditions ranging from wound healing to tuberculosis, leprosy and as an aid to memory and brain function. Gotu kola is said to be one of the most important rejuvenating herbs in Ayurvedic medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, the herb was a principal ingredient in an elixir called 'fo ti tieng', a mixture that was called the fountain of youth.

The main active compound in gotu kola is asiaticoside. This has antibiotic properties and also has beneficial effects in the treatment of wounds, where it speeds healing and reduces scarring. In one study, in which an extract of Gotu kola was applied to 20 people suffering with slow healing wounds: 64% of the wounds healed completely and 16% improved considerably. When taken long term, gotu kola can help maintain a youthful appearance of skin by limiting the build-up of collagens - a visible sign of aging.

Asiaticoside has been used successfully to treat varicose veins by strengthening the capillaries, phlebitis (inflammation of the veins), as well as leg cramps, edema and under-eye circles. It has also been used to treat localized inflammation and infection, and to aid post-surgery recovery.

Asiaticoside has strong antioxidant properties. According to recent studies, gotu kola support for healthy memory function. A study conducted in 1992 by K. Nalini at Kasturba Medical College showed an impressive improvement in memory in rats which were treated with the extract (orally) daily for 14 days before the experiment. The retention of learned behavior in the rats treated with gotu kola was three times better than that in control animals. Preliminary results in one clinical trial with mentally retarded children was shown to increase scores on intelligence tests (Bagchi, 1989). This herb has also been studied for its radio-protective qualities. In mouse studies, it was found to significantly in crease survival in animals exposed to gamma radiation.

Some of the other chemical constituents in the plant include the durectics brahmoside and brahminoside which have a slightly sedative action that can help with chronic anxiety, and madecassoside, a glycoside that is a strong anti-inflammatory agent.

Supplementation

Gotu kola is available as dried, ground material, as tinctures and liquid extract, creams, tablets, capsules and teas. It is is also sometimes administered by intramuscular injection. The dried herb or tea can be stored for several years in a tightly sealed bag or container without losing potency. A typical supplemental dose of the raw herb would be 1-4 grams taken up to three times per day. This roughly equates to 400mg of extract standardised to 10% asiaticoside or 100mg of 40% standardised extract.

Contraindications

In general there are no contraindications for normal intake, but gotu kola inhibits the functioning of enzymes CYP2C9, CYP2D6 and CYP3A4, responsible for the liver to metabolize some drugs, which might potentially cause problems if taken with hepatotoxic drugs.

 

 

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