What is Gotu Kola?
Gotu Kola, also known as Centella Asiatica, is a low growing trailing herb that loves moist areas. It has rounded simple leaves, slender stems and inconspicuous flowers that form in short clusters. It is part of the parsley family native to tropical Asia, where it is grown commercially and is also found in Hawaii and other tropical regions.
Historical use of this herb
In India, Gotu Kola has long been regarded as perhaps the most spiritual of all herbs. Growing in some areas of the Himalayas, Gotu Kola is used by Yogis to improve meditation. They believe it helps develop the crown chakra, which is the energy center at the top of the head, and helps balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the herb leaf is said to resemble. It is regarded as one of the most important rejuvenating herbs in Ayurvedic Medicine. Sri Lankans also noticed that elephants, renowned for their resilience and longevity, munched frequently on the leaves of the plant. Thus, the leaves became known as a promoter of youth and long life.
Gotu Kola offers rejuvenate benefits recommended for nervous disorders, epilepsy, senility and premature aging. As a brain tonic, it is said to aid intelligence and memory whilst also strengthening the adrenal glands and cleansing the blood to treat skin impurities. It is believed to combat anxiety and depression, increase libido and improve reflexes. It has also been useful in treatment of chronic venous insufficiency, minor burns, scars, scleroderma, skin ulcers, varicose veins, wound healing, rheumatism, blood diseases, congestive heart failure, urinary tract infections, venereal diseases, hepatitis and high blood pressure.
It is worth noting that Gotu Kola is often confused with kola nut, assuming the rejuvenating properties of Gotu Kola are due to the stimulating effects of caffeine contained in the kola nut. However, Gotu Kola is not related to the kola nut in any form and contains no caffeine at all.
Gotu Kola has a positive effect on the circulatory system, which is perhaps the foundations for its broad ranging use in treatments involving cell, tissue and venous repair. It improves the flow of blood while strengthening the veins and capillaries. It has been used successfully to treat phlebitis (an inflammation of the veins usually in the legs), leg cramps and abnormal tingling of the extremities. As a result, it soothes and minimizes varicose veins and helps to minimize scarring if applied daily during the time of wound inflammation.
The primary active constituent of this herb is the triterpenoid compound. Saponins (natural detergents found in many plants) known as asiaticoside, madecassoside and madasiatic acid are the key catalysts in this plant. These saponins beneficially affect collagen (the material that makes up our connective tissue), for example, inhibiting its production in hyperactive scar tissue. Due in most part to the actions of asiaticoside and madecassoside that the herb contains, Gotu Kola may prevent, delay and treat a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency. This occurs when valves in the veins that carry blood back to the heart are weak or damaged and blood collects in the veins of the legs. This collection of blood can lead to varicose veins, spider veins or sores on the legs and more serious results can include blood clotting in the legs. Because Gotu Kola strengthens the walls of blood vessels, it can also be effective for slowing retinopathy, the gradual break down of the retina in the eyes. These same effects are thought to strengthen the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, making Gotu Kola potentially useful for treating ulcers.
These Saponins regulate the development and metabolism of connective tissue and improve the synthesis of collagen and other tissue proteins, by regulating the action of fibroblasts in the vein wall, and stimulating collagen remodeling in and around the venous wall. It is found that in poor connective tissue conditions, the triterpenes are able to renew the collagen, in both quantity and quality, thus restoring tissue firmness and skin elasticity and improving skin appearance and quality.
So, I hope this weeks entry hasn’t been too scientific in tone! In a nutshell, it appears that it is this repairing and rejuvenating property of Gotu Kola on collagen, connective tissue and the venous network – those elements that, in essence, hold us together – which lends itself to its various restorative and healing benefits it offers across the board.
Our Immunity Supplement contains Gotu Kola.