Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola: Overview

Alternative names: Centella, Indian Pennywort

Also known as Gotu kola, centella has antiinflammatory, anticonvulsant, antidepressant and analgesic properties.

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History; Source

The freshly-dried leaves of the Gotu Kola plant have traditionally been used medically for a variety of concerns throughout China, East Asia, and Africa for many years, including: Leprosy; gonorrhea; fevers, colds, flu; ageing problems & to delay ageing; lupus; eczema; psoriasis; amenorrhea & other female complaints; wounds.

According to legend, elephants use this plant as a food source and owe their longevity to its age-defying properties.  (Scientists would likely claim that the elephants' lifespan falls as expected on the curve relating size, metabolic oxygen utilization, and lifespan in various species.)

Sometimes called Indian Pennywort, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is native to India, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and many of the Southeast Asian Islands.  The parts used are the fresh or dried above-ground parts.

Extracts of gotu kola are available, as well as tinctures and ointments.  Gotu kola should not be confused with Kola Nut (Cola acuminata), a completely different plant.

Function; Why it is Recommended

The chemical composition of gotu kola is quite extensive including saponins, volatile oils, sugars, fatty acids, amino acids, flavonoids, polyphenols, tannins and carotenoids.  The saponin components like asiaticoside and others, are thought to be the most active components.

The triterpenic fraction of Gotu Kola extracts is able to inhibit some of the lysosomal enzymes thought to participate in the etiology of varicose veins and venous insufficiencies.

Gotu Kola is an adaptogen; alterative (depurative); antirheumatic; antiseptic; antispasmodic; bitter; mild diuretic; peripheral vasodilator; nervine & relaxant (large dose becomes sedative); vulnerary & connective tissue eutrophic; vermifuge.

Other factors attributed to gotu kola is its ability to enhance connective tissue, increasing the tone of vessels, tendons, and ligaments.  This activity has been confirmed in several clinical trials, in which edema, pain, decreased capillary permeability, and microcirculation were all improved significantly without adverse effects.  The use of this herb is becoming more frequent for a number of connective tissue, vascular, and wound healing protocols.

Centella's triterpenoids exhibit remarkable wound healing activity; some enhance cholinergic mechanism – improved mental function via mild tranquilizing, anti-stress, & anti-anxiety action.  Asiaticoside dissolves waxy coating of Mycobacterium leprae allowing immune system to destroy it.

Wound and scar healing seems to be one of gotu kola's unique properties both topically and orally.  Gotu Kola is indicated for the following:

CNS/Nervous: Neurological & mental disturbances (including mental retardation, schizophrenia, stress, epilepsy, amnesia); brain & nervous tonic, promotes mental calm & clarity; Insomnia.

Integumentary: Inflammations; burns (2nd & 3rd degree-topical & systemic usage); ulcers; leprous sores; cellulite; poor wound healing (topical); keloids; to Improve integrity of collagen matrix; help treat & reduce scarring after surgery; scleroderma; stimulates hair & nail growth; increases vascularization of connective tissue; increases mucin formation & structural components of connective tissue; increases tensile integrity of dermis; stimulates stratum germinativum – increased keratinization of epidermis; psoriasis; dermatitis; bed sores; lupus erythematosus.

Musculoskeletal: Arthritis & rheumatism; systemic sclerosis.

Cardiovascular: Varicose veins; enhances perivascular sheath connective tissue, reducing sclerosis & improving blood flow; capillary fragility; hemorrhoids; anemia; phlebitis.

Hepatic: Cirrhosis of alcohol & unknown etiology.

Gastro-intestinal: Worms; hypochlorhydria; deficient pancreatic exocrine function; anal fissures; peptic ulcers.

Reproductive / Urinary: Lesions associated with pregnancy & delivery (including episiotomies); ulcerative conditions associated with radiation therapy; heals & produces remarkable elasticity in the above conditions; fibrocystic breasts.

Ear-nose-throat / Respiratory: Asthma; bronchitis; clears upper respiratory tract during infection & chest tightness; whooping cough; tonsillitis; rapid healing of tonsillectomy cavities; promotes healing after radiotherapy of laryngectomy & pharyngolaryngectomy patients; Tuberculosis; enlarged glands; periodontal conditions; as snuff for ozena (atrophic rhinitis, there is loss & shrinkage of the ciliated mucous membrane & of the turbinate bones).


Pharmacy & Posology (dosage):

PreparationRelative StrengthSingle DoseWeekly Dose
Dried0.5-2gm tds10-42gm
Tincture1:21-2ml tds20-40ml
Tincture1:51.5-5ml tds30-105ml
F.E.1:10.6-4ml tds10-85ml
Juice 200-600 mg/kg twice per day 

NOTE: Juice is used for fevers at the above dosage.

Also: Ointment from powdered leaves or juice

Side-Effects; Counter-Indicators and Warnings

The safe use of this herb and its extracts has been confirmed by many studies.

Gotu Kola is generally well tolerated.  Infrequently, topical application may produce photosensitization or dermatitis in tropical areas.

Must not be given to children under 2 years old; for other children and those aged over 65, start on low strength preparation.

On This Page

Gotu Kola:

Gotu Kola can help with the following:


Poor/Slow Wound Healing

Known for its remarkable wound healing properties, centella has been found to induce levels of antioxidants in wounds and newly-formed tissue, including superoxide dismutase, glutathione peroxidase, vitamin E, and vitamin C.  Centella improves collagen formation and angiogenesis [Shukla et al. 1999].  A review article of centella noted the most beneficial effects to date involved the stimulation and mutation of scar tissue by production of Type I collagen and an inhibition of the inflammatory reaction.  This article reviewed seven other articles about centella, stating "Centella asiatica has been documented to aid wound healing in a large number of scientific reports" [Shukla 1999b; Widgerow et al. 2000].


Poor Memory

Gotu kola improves memory and increases mental stamina.

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