Gotu Kola Herb - Research and Studies on Health Benefits

Some research and several studies have been carried out on the gotu kola herb to ascertain its many health benefits.

The active compounds in gotu kola are called saponins (also known as triterpenoids). One gotu kola compound that has been extracted and tested in clinical trials is called total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA). Gotu kola is not related to the kola (cola) nut, and contains no caffeine or other stimulants.

Some clinical trials have looked at gotu kola and TTFCA in people with poor blood flow (called chronic venous insufficiency), usually in the legs. These trials indicate the potential health benefits of gotu kola herb, that it may help reduce swelling in the legs and feet, although more scientific studies are needed.

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A note about the Gotu Kola Herb - Research and Studies on Health Benefits

Herbs are God and nature's gifts to us. While the use of herbs and herb remedies has brought excellent results for many people, do note that their health benefits may be limited when they are used in isolation. However, when combined with some basic dietary and lifestyle good health habits, such as a full body detox and a proper understanding and application of nutrition, the impact on one's health will be greatly magnified.

In natural health and healing, we believe that the body has the ability to heal itself of any disease, even supposedly incurable diseases. We also believe in holistic health and healing, as we realize that different parts of the human body are highly interlinked, often beyond Man’s understanding. It is thus a good idea to apply these fundamental health steps no matter how remote or unrelated a health condition may seem.

Other research studies that have looked at gotu kola in human beings have been limited by small size and problems in method. Although at least one study of tumor cells in the lab showed reduced cell growth with the gotu kola herb, available scientific evidence does not support its effectiveness for treating cancer in humans.

A few clinical trials in humans suggested that extracts of gotu kola and TTFCA, taken by mouth, helped reduce swelling of the legs and feet due to varicose veins and poor circulation (chronic venous insufficiency) more than sham treatments (placebo). It seemed to reduce the "leakage" of blood vessels. Further studies are needed to find out if these results hold true. It is important to note that extracted chemicals such as TTFCA are not the same as the gotu kola herb itself. Study results of extracts often will not show the same results as studies using the raw plant.

One study in India reported that gotu kola extract slowed the development of tumors in mice and increased their life span. Other rat studies showed that gotu kola extracts had calming effects and prevented ulcers. Animal studies have shown that the gotu kola herb, when applied to the skin or taken by mouth, seems to promote collagen production in wounds. These gotu kola benefits are quite promising.

Lab studies on tumor cells ("test tube" studies) showed that fresh gotu kola juice slowed their growth, but not as much as the more purified extracts from the plant. Lab studies have also suggested a possible role for extracts of gotu kola for the treatment of scleroderma and for the prevention and treatment of Alzheimer's disease.

A small number of laboratory studies conducted in India and Europe suggest that an ointment or gel made from gotu kola may speed up wound healing. None of these studies have been done on humans, although some of the wound healing studies also looked promising in rodent tests.

Titrated extracts of Centella asiatica (TECA) used in animals showed that topical application of gotu kola helped experimental wounds heal faster. Asiaticoside may be responsible for this.

TECA has also been observed in clinical settings, where it appears to speed healing of surgical incisions and skin ulcers. In one trial it was administered to patients with parasitic infections that damage the bladder. Three-fourths of these patients recovered well, with little or no bladder scarring.

Tantalizing test tube research suggests that a Centella extract can destroy cultured cancer cells. It is far too soon, however, to determine whether it will be useful as an anticancer agent. Animal and eventually clinical studies will be needed.

Madecassoside has anti-inflammatory properties. In a small French study, a few patients with chronic liver disease had measurable improvement while using TECA. The majority of the patients in this group did not benefit, however.

High doses of the extract of the gotu kola herb have a sedative effect on small animals.

Animal research also indicates that some gotu kola constituents can reduce fertility. Although the plant has a reputation as an aphrodisiac, no research supports this use. Though animal and lab studies look promising for some of these uses, further studies are necessary to find out if the results hold true for humans. More well-controlled research is needed to understand its role, if any, in cancer treatment.

Practitioners believe gotu kola improves memory by boosting circulation to the brain. In terms of evidence, research on the gotu kola herb for anxiety and memory is limited.

Preliminary results in Fitoterapia in 1992 support gotu kola's reputation as a memory enhancer. In the study, rats that ate gotu kola every day for 14 days had three to 60 times better retention of learned behaviors than rats that took a placebo. No further research has been done to confirm this use.

In one controlled clinical trial on gotu kola and anxiety, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology in 2000, scientists gave 40 healthy adults either a very high one-time dose of 12g of gotu kola or a placebo. They then measured the subjects' startle responses with loud bursts of noise. After 60 minutes, the gotu kola group displayed less than half the startle response of the control group.

A series of studies published in the International Journal of Angiology in October 2007 tested the gotu kola herb's ability to improve vascular health. In one study, researchers gave 40 patients with venous hypertension (thought to be a precursor to varicose veins) either a placebo or 120 mg of gotu kola daily. After six weeks, the patients who took the herb experienced a significant reduction in leg swelling, and most of their leg veins were able to constrict blood flow properly.

All in all, among most famous herbs gotu kola is still relatively unknown in terms of its health benefits, and more will surely be uncovered in the coming years.

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