Gotu Kola: An Edible and Medicinal Herb

Updated on January 31st, 2021
Gotu Kola

Centella Asiatica (Gotu kola) is a type of leafy plant generally used in Asian cuisines with a glorious history of use in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. It is a perennial plant with origins in SEA’s tropical wetlands (Southeast Asia), commonly used as tea, juice, or green leafy vegetables.  

Alternative practitioners believe Gotu kola to have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, antidiabetic, memory-enhancing and antidepressant,  properties [1]. It is extensively sold as a dietary supplement in powder, capsules, tincture, and topical formulations.

Health Benefits

Among alternative therapists, Gotu kola is believed to have several health benefits, ranging from treating infections such as shingles to prevent blood clots, Alzheimer’s disease, and even pregnancy. Others stress that Gotu kola can prevent or treat asthma, anxiety, depression, diabetes, fatigue, diarrhea, stomach ulcers, and indigestion[2].

When used externally (topically), Gotu kola is believed by some to help expedite the healing of wounds and diminish the appearance of scars and stretch marks.

Here is what some of the present clinical evidence says:

1. May Help Treat Alzheimer’s

Gotu kola is identified as one of Ayurveda’s few medicines that rejuvenates the brain cells and nerves. It is believed to increase memory, intelligence, and longevity [3]. Its derivatives reduced the concentrations of free radicals and the associated cell death.

Gotu kola extracts can also enhance behavioral deficits linked with Alzheimer’s disease. These extracts may even restore neural cells, as the investigations indicate. The herb achieves this by rectifying mitochondrial dysfunction, contributing to neurodegeneration and other related diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Gotu kola also helps reduce amyloid-beta levels in the blood. These are compounds firmly involved in Alzheimer’s disease.

[Read: 5 Fabulous Methods to treat Alzheimer’s]

2. Can Treat Depression And Anxiety  

When 33 people diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder were withheld from antidepressant medicines and given Gotu kola tablets; instead, they showed improvement. Scores for anxiety, stress, depression, and lack of attention had dramatically decreased after 60 days of treatment.

The herb was also proved to have effects similar to commercial antidepressants like diazepam and imipramine, though at a lower level. Preliminary findings also indicate that Gotu kola may have anxiolytic effects in humans.

Gotu kola can also increase the levels of monoamine neurotransmitters (like serotonin), possibly boosting feelings of happiness. This can help battle depression.

[Read: Hidden Signs of Depression]

3. It may reduce swelling and improve circulation

Studies from 2001 found that Gotu kola can reduce fluid ankle swelling, circulation tied to taking flights that last longer than 3 hours, and retention problems.

Patients who experienced mild-to-moderate superficial venous disease with varicose veins were asked to take Gotu kola for 2 days prior to their flight, the day of their flight, and the day after their flight.

Scientists found that participants who took the supplement experienced considerably less fluid retention and ankle swelling than those who didn’t.

Older studies have also shown that Gotu kola can be helpful in dealing with varicose veins. This is due to gotu kolas positive metabolic impact on the vascular wall’s connective tissue.

How to use: Have 60 to 100 mg of Gotu kola extract three times per day for 7 days, before and after any flights. You can also massage the affected section with a topical cream containing one percent gotu kola extract.

How to go for a skin patch test: It’s essential to do a patch test prior to using any topical medicine. To do this, rub a dime-sized quantity on to the inside of the forearm. If you don’t experience any inflammation or irritation within 24 hours, it should be safe to use elsewhere.

[Read: How to reduce Swelling]

4. It can help ease insomnia

Given its perceived ability to treat stress, anxiety, and depression, Gotu kola may also be used to treat insomnia that sometimes follows these conditions. Some regard this herbal remedy as to a safe alternative to prescription medicines used to treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.

Although older research does indicate that gotu kola can help treat sleep disorders, additional studies are required to substantiate these findings.

How to use: Have 300 to 680 mg of gotu kola extract three times per day for around two weeks at a time.

[Read: Natural Rmedies for Insomnia]

Side Effects

Although adverse effects are rare, some people taking gotu kola may experience headaches, upset stomach, and drowsiness. Because gotu kola can increase our sensitivity to the sun, it’s essential to limit our sun exposure and use sunscreen whenever outdoors.

The liver metabolizes gotu kola. It is wise to avoid gotu kola supplements to prevent further damage or injury if you have liver disease. Long-term use may also trigger liver toxicity.

Also, be mindful that gotu kola’s calming effect may be amplified when taking alcohol or sedatives. Avoid taking gotu kola with Ativan (lorazepam), Ambien (zolpidem), Klonopin (clonazepam), Donnatal (phenobarbital), or other sedatives as this can lead to extreme drowsiness.

Due to the lack of studies, gotu kola supplements should be avoided in pregnant women, children, and nursing mothers. It is not clear what other drugs gotu kola may interact with.


There are no guidelines as to the appropriate use of gotu kola for medicinal purposes. Because of the risk of liver damage, the supplements are intended for short-term use only.

Most makers recommend no more than a 500-mg (milligram) dose taken twice daily for 2 weeks. Others believe that doses of up to 2,000 mg per day are effective and safe for treating occasional anxiety bouts.

Bottom Line

Although gotu kola is usually considered safe to use, you should still check in with your physician before use. This herbal remedy isn’t meant to supplant any physician-approved treatment plan, and, in some instances, it may lead to adverse side effects.

With your physician’s approval, work a topical or an oral dose into your daily regimen. You may be able to avoid moderate side effects by starting with a limited amount and steadily increasing the dosage over time. If you begin experiencing any prolonged or unusual side effects, discontinue use and see your doctor.

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