Centella asiatica, commonly known as Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort or gotu kola or Thankuni is a herbaceous, frost-tender perennial plant in the flowering plant family Apiaceae.
It is native to the wetlands in Asia. It is used as a culinary vegetables and as a medicinal herb.
Scientific name: Centella asiatica
Guto kola is an herb in the parsley family. It is commonly used in Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. The above-ground parts are used to make medicine.
Gotu kola is used to treat bacterial, viral or parasitic infections such as urinary tract infection (UTI), shingles, leprosy, cholera, dysentery, syphilis, the common cold, the flue, H1N1 (swine) flu, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, and schistosomiasis.
Guto kola is also used for fatigue, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease and improving memory and intellegence. Other uses include circulation problems (venous insufficiency) including varicose veins, to stabilize plaques in blood vessels, to prevent blood clots in the legs, and to prevent the damage of small blood vessels in people with diabetes (diabetic microangiopathy).
Some people use gotu kola for wound healing, trauma, sunstroke, tonsillitis, fluid around the lungs (pleurisy), liver disease (hepatitis), jaundice, systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Stomach pain, diarrhea, indigestion, stomach ulcers, swelling in the lining of the stomach (gastritis), epilepsy, asthma, “tired blood” (anemia), and for helping them live longer.
Some women use gotu kola for preventing pregnancy, absence of mentrual periods, and to arouse sexual desire.
Gotu kola is sometimes applied to the skin for psoriasis, wound healing and reducing scars, including stretch marks caused by pregnancy.
Is Gotu Kola effective?
There is some scientific evidence that gotu kola might be effective when taken varicose veins.
When applied to the skin, gotu kola might also be helpful for improving wound healing and a skin condition called psoriasis.
. Decreased return of the blood from the feet and legs back to the heart (venous insufficiency). Taking gotu kola or a specific extract of gotu kola (Centellase) by mouth for 4-8 week seems to improved blood circulation and reduce swelling in people with poor blood circulation in the legs.
. Hardening of the arteries (atherosclerosis). People with atherosclerosis have fatty deposits called plaques along the lining of their blood vessels. There is some evidence that taking gotu kola for 12 months might help stabilize these plaques so they are less likely to break off and trigger clot formation, which can cause a heart attack or stroke.
. Increasing circulation in people with diabetes. Taking gotu kola for 6-12 months might help increase circulation and decrease fluid retention in people with diabetes whose small blood vessels have been damaged by their disease.
. Excess scar tissue (keloids). There is some evidence that applying an extract of gotu kola known as Madecassol to the skin might help reduce excess scar tissue.
. Scarring. Early research suggests that applying a specific gotu kola cream to the skin twice daily for 6-8 weeks after the removal of stitches might help reduce scarring.
Schistosomiasis. There is some evidence that gotu kola injected by a healthcare provider might help bladder wounds caused by a parasitic infection called schistosomiasis.
. Stretch marks associated with pregnancy. Early research shows that applying a specific cream containing gotu kola, vitamin E, and a collagen compound (Trofolastin) daily during the last 6 months of pregnancy reduces stretch marks. There is also some evidence that an ointment containing gotu kola, vitamin E, essential fatty acids, hyaluronic acid, elastin, and menthol (Verum) might help prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. Other early research shows that applying a formula containing hydroxyprolisilane C, rosehip oil, gotu kola triterpenes, and vitamin E (Velastica Antiestrias, ISDIN) during pregnancy reduces the number and severity of old and new stretch marks. Since all of the tested products contained multiple ingredients, it is not clear if the effects on stretch marks are due to goto kola or other ingredients.
WOUND HEALING – Early evidence shows that applying gotu kola on the skin helps improve wound healing. Herbalists have long used gotu kola poultices and ointments to aid in wound healing. The current body of evidence suggests that a type of triterpene, known as asiaticoside, is able to stimulate collagen production and promote the development of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) at the injury site.
Gotu kola contains certain chemicals that seem to decrease inflammation and also decrease blood pressure in veins. Gotu kola also seems to increase collagen production, which is important for wound healing.
MOOD AND MEMORY
Gotu kola has long been used as an herbal tonic to treat mood disorders and enchance memory. Although research results are mixed, there is evidence of some direct and indirect benefits.
A 2017 review of studies published in Scientific Reports found little evidence that gotu kola directly improves cognition or memory, although it appeared to promote alertness and relieve anxiety, within an hour of consumption.
Despite its shortcoming, it is possible that gotu kola may indirectly affect cognition and memory. Being more alert and less fatigued will invariably improve a person working memory. (i.g., short-term memory). Moreover, reduced anxiety and feeling of calmness will often translate to better concentration, memory retention, and information processing speed.
Gotu kola appears to reduce anxiety by regulating the activity of neurotransmitters known as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Asiatic acid is the compound in gotu kola believed to trigger this effect.
By influencing how GABA is absorbed by the brain, asiatic acid may be able to relieve anxiety without the sedative effect of traditional GABA agonist drugs like Ambien (zolpidem) and barbiturates. It may also play a role in treating depression, insomnia, and chronic fatigue.
There is some evidence that gotu kola can improve blood circulation in people with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). Venous insufficiency is a condition that occurs when the walls and/or valves in the legs veins are not working effectively, making it difficult for blood to return to the heart.
A 2013 review of studies from malaysia concluded that older people treated with gotu kola showed significant improvement in CVI symptoms, including leg heaviness, pain and swelling (edema).
These effects are believed linked to chemical compounds known as triterpenes, which stimulate the production of cardiac glycosides. Cardiac glycosides are organic compounds that increase the force of the heart and increase the rate of contractions.
There is even some evidence that gotu kola may stabilize fatty plaques in the blood vessel, preventing them from breaking off and causing a heart attack or stroke.
Claims that gotu kola can treat diseases from leprosy to cancer are largely exaggerated. These “cure-all” claims often shroud the actual benefits gotu kola may have in reducing disease risk.
Gotu kola is known to have potent antioxidant effects, neutralizing many of the free radicals that cause cell damage at the molecular level. It has been theorized that these properties may provide protection against stomach ulcers and certain cancers.
Asiatic acid found in gotu kola has been shown in ongoing research to induce apoptosis (spontaneous cell death) and inhibit cell growth activity in certain types of cancer cells, including liver, breast, skin, brain, and gastrointestinal tumor cells. Further research is looking into possible anti-cancer drug development.
In Southeast Asia, gotu kola is used as much for food as for medicinal purposes. A member of the parsley family, gotu kola is an excellent source of essential vitamins and mineral needed to maintain optimal health.
According to a review in the International Food Research Journal, 100 grams of fresh gotu kola delivers the following nutrients and meets the following recommended dietary intake (RDI) needs:
. Calcium: 171 milligrams (17% of the RDI)
. Iron: 5.6 milligrams (31% of the RDI)
. Potassium: 391 milligrams (11% of the RDI)
. Vitamin A: 442 micrograms (49% of the RDI)
. Vitamin C: 48.5 milligrams (81% of the RDI)
. Vitamin B2: 0.19 milligrams (9% of the RDI)
Gotu kola is also a good source of dietary fiber, providing 8 percent of the RDI for women and 5 percent of the RDI for men.
SELECTION, PREPARATION, AND STORAGE
Gotu kola is a key ingredient in many Indian, Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese, and Thai dishes. It distinctive sweet and bitter flavor and a slight grassy scent. Gotu kola is a central ingredient of one of Sri Lanka’s most popular dishes, guto kola sambol, which combine shredded gotu kola leaves with shallots, lime juice, chili, and grated coconut.
It is also used to make Indian curries, Vietnamese vegetables rolls, and a Malaysian salad called pegaga. Fresh gotu kola can also be juiced and mixed with water and sugar to create the Vietnamese beverage nouc rau ma.
FRESH GOTU KOLA
Fresh gotu kola is difficult to find in the United States outside of specialty ethnic grocers. When purchased, the lily pad- shaped leaves should have a bright green color without any blemishes or discoloration. The stems are edible and semilar to that of cilantro.
Fresh gotu kola is temperature- sensitive and can quickly turn black if your refrigerator is too cold. If not used immediately, you can place the herbs in a glass of water, cover with a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Fresh gotu kola can keep this way for up to a week.
If chopped or juiced, gotu kola should be used immediately as it can quickly oxidize and turn black.
GOTU KOLA SUPPLEMENT
Gotu kola supplements are available in most health food stores and shops that specialize in herbal remedies. Gotu kola can be taken in capsule, tincture, powdered, or tea form. Ointments containing gotu kola are available to treat wounds and other skin problems.