Gotu Kola

Scientific names: Centella asiatica (L.) Urban. Family: Apiaceae (carrots).

Common names: Gotu kola, hydrocotyle, Indian pennywort, Brahmi, Manduukaparani, Tsubokusa, talepetrako, spadeleaf, Asiatic pennywort

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Gotu Kola?

Centella asiatica is a perennial creeping herb in the carrot family. The plant is also known as gotu kola and grows abundantly in shady, moist, or marshy areas. It is distributed widely in many parts of the world, including India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, Australia, China, and Japan.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Gotu kola has a long history of use in numerous medical systems. In India, the plant has been used to treat skin inflammation, diabetes, cough, cataracts and other eye conditions, and to improve memory. In Europe, an infusion of the aerial parts of the plant was used to purify the blood and treat wounds, ulcers, skin inflammation, and hypertension. A similar infusion has been used in Indonesia and Brazil to help improve memory. In Malaysia, the plant was used to treat respiratory ailments, such as bronchitis and asthma, and stomach complaints, including dysentery, kidney trouble, inflammation of the urethra, and swelling. In Malaya, an infusion from this plant is sold as a tonic and cold beverage to treat liver ailments, tuberculosis, and blood in the urine. In the past, people in Japan valued the plant for its diuretic and detoxicant properties. Sri Lankans noticed that elephants, known for their longevity, ate the leaves of the plant. Thus, the leaves were believed to promote long life, with a suggested “dosage” of a few leaves each day. In South China, the plant is used as a dietary supplement to promote health and immune system function.

General uses

Gotu kola has been traditionally used as treatment for a variety of conditions and as an aphrodisiac. It may be useful in treating wounds, varicose veins, skin disorders, blood flow problems, and to enhance memory, although there is little clinical information to support these claims.

What is the recommended dosage?

Dosages of gotu kola in crude form range from 1.5 to 4 g/day. Various extracts standardized to asiaticoside content also are available and have been studied in clinical trials in blood flow problems and wound healing at extract doses of 30 to 90 mg/day. Wound-healing studies have involved topical application of a hydrogel ointment containing a titrated extract of C. asiatica (TECA). Commercial manufacturers have numerous dosage regimens listed for gotu kola.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Avoid use if hypersensitive to any of the ingredients of gotu kola.

Pregnancy/nursing

Avoid use during pregnancy and lactation because gotu kola may induce menstruation.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

Contact dermatitis is documented in some clinical trials.

Toxicities

Three cases of liver toxicity have been reported with patients using C. asiatica for 20 to 60 days.

References

  1. Gotu Kola. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons Online. April 2010. Accessed April 20, 2010.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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