What in the World is Gotu Kola?
What is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola, also known as Centella asiatica, is a plant found mostly in Asia and South Africa. This herb is characterized by its green leaves that resemble the shape of a lily pad. Despite being a part of the parsley family, gotu kola is flavorless and odorless. All parts of the plant can be used in medicinal therapies.
It’s important to note that gotu kola is not kola nut, as many confuse the two. Whereas they sound similar, kola nut is an oval-shaped brown nut that tastes bitter and has caffeine.
The History of Gotu Kola
Gotu kola has a history that dates back to ancient times, contributing to both Chinese and Indian traditional medicine. In China, it’s been known as a miracle elixir of life for more than 2,000 years. It’s been popular in Indian medicine for just as long, if not longer. Gotu kola can be found in the ancient medical Sanskrit texts known as the Sushruta Samhita.
Starting in the nineteenth century, Gotu Kola has started being utilized in pharmaceuticals in India and China, helping treat everything from wounds to skin conditions to common ailments like fever and stomach discomfort.
In recent years, western medicine has begun embracing the herb as well. Plenty of reputable research agencies have researched the immense benefits gotu kola can provide in medicine. Every year, they seem to be discovering more that this wonder plant can offer.
What are the Benefits of Gotu Kola?
Though we seem to only be at the tip of the iceberg as far as research is concerned, it has been so far discovered that gotu kola can offer the following benefits:
Decreased Blood Pressure & Swelling:
In a study that investigated the link between hypertension (elevated blood pressure within blood vessels) and the consumption of tea infused with gotu kola, the herb was found to lower blood pressure. It was also found to improve the flow of blood through the vessels, avoiding blood pools and leaks of fluid that contribute to swelling. There is even an interesting study that’s been done that linked drinking gotu kola tea before flying in a plane with less swelling in the legs and ankles after the flight is through.
There are compounds in gotu kola that act as a natural sedative. Research conducted with animals has shown gotu kola to be a safe and effective way to aid sleep. Proper human studies still need to be conducted, but plenty of individuals swear by gotu kola for their own insomniac needs.
Gotu kola contains triterpenoids, a natural chemical that has been found to have broad medicinal applications from providing the body with antiviral and antibacterial properties, to fighting tumors, reducing cholesterol and hypertension, and protecting the body from oxidation. These triterpenoids have also been found to help wounds heal by increasing blood to the wounded area, providing the area with antioxidants, and helping the new skin grow strong. Due to the high amount of triterpenoids found in gotu kola, the herb is often used in topical creams and prescriptions to help heal wounds, burns, scars, stretch marks, eczema, and psoriasis.
Just like with wound healing, triterpenoids also offer benefits to the brain. The triterpenoids in gotu kola in particular have been found to improve cognitive functioning, reduce the symptoms of chronic depression, and decrease anxiety and anxious reactions in both animals and humans. This research reflects the use of gotu kola in Eastern traditional medicine for emotional and cognitive issues.
Gotu kola is also currently being studied in terms of its effectiveness in treating individuals with Alzheimer’s disease. The compounds in gotu kola were found to improve memory and the functioning of nerves in the brain. It was also found to protect brain cells from plaque that can form on the brain, which the disease is associated with. This means it can both help prevent Alzheimer’s disease as well as treat the symptoms of it. Of course, more research needs to be conducted as to just how effective gotu kola can be in this, but things look promising.
The Best Ways to Enjoy Gotu Kola
Gotu kola is most commonly enjoyed either by brewing it in warm water or enjoying it as a smokable herb. As it’s both tasteless and odorless, it goes well with almost any combination of ingredients. If you’re adding gotu kola to something yourself, as opposed to purchasing a blend that incorporates it as an ingredient, ensure your gotu kola is safely harvested and doesn’t contain high levels of metal.