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Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)

DESCRIPTION:

Often combined with ginseng, gotu kola acts as a blood-purifier and tonic. Under investigation in many regions, gotu kola is said to treat leprosy, Vaginitis, and Fatigue. Please take note that gotu kola is not the same as cola acuminata (a.k.a. kola nut), an herb which contains a large amount of caffeine.


HERBAL USES

Traditionally, gotu kola has long been used in India and Indonesia for treating Wounds and slowing the progression of leprosy. It was also believed to prolong life, increase energy, and enhance sexual potency (1). Gotu kola has also been used for the treatment of Skin diseases, Diarrhoea, menstrual disorders, and vaginal discharge.


SUGGESTED INTAKES

Standardised extract (containing 40% asiaticoside, 29 to 30% asiatic acid, 29 to 30% madecassic acid, and 1 to 2% madecassoside): 20 to 40 mg 3 times daily.

Signs of improvement will take at least 4 weeks to appear.

For the prevention of keloid scars, take gotu kola for 3 months before surgery, and for another 3 months afterwards.


SUPPLEMENTAL USES

Varicose veins:
Studies have convincingly shown that gotu kola is effective for the treatment of Varicose veins (2-5). European researchers in the 1970s discovered that gotu kola is particularly effective for the following symptoms: overall tiredness, discomfort, and swelling. While the herb is ineffective for improving the appearance of badly damaged veins, it may be able to prevent the development of unsightly veins. However, this claim has yet to be proven. Gotu kola is also a suggested treatment for Haemorrhoids, a type of varicose vein.

Connective tissue:
Gotu kola may benefit connective tissues. It may be helpful post-surgery for the treatment and prevention of keloid (bulging, enlarging) scars. Gotu kola may also be effective for treating the symptoms of scleroderma, a connective tissue disease. It may also promote healing in Burns and Wounds. Studies, however, have not been conclusive (6).

Memory:
Gotu kola has been reputed to improve memory. In a 1992 study with rats, the results were promising (7). However, it does not seem to have the same effect in humans.

Psoriasis:
Gotu kola may also be useful in the treatment of Psoriasis.


SAFETY AND PRECAUTIONS

Gotu kola is generally non-toxic if taken orally (8). However, it may have carcinogenic properties if applied topically to the Skin (9).

Rabbit studies and a clinical trial with pregnant women show that gotu kola does not harm foetal development (10, 11). However, the evidence is not yet conclusive. Safety in young children and patients with severe liver or kidney disease has not been determined.


INTERACTIONS AND CONTRA-INDICATIONS

Gotu kola may interact with central nervous system drugs and amphotericin B.

It may potentiate the antibiotic activity of Echinacea. Milk or cream can inactivate this effect.

REFERENCES:

1. Kartnig T. Clinical applications of Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. herbs Spices Med Plants 3: 146-173, 1988.
2. Belcaro GV, et al. Capillary filtration and ankle edema in patients with venous hypertension treated with TTFCA. Angiology 41: 12-18, 1990.
3. Cesarone MR, et al. The microcirculatory activity of Centella asiatica in venous insufficiency: A double-blind study. Minerva Cardioangiol 42: 299-304, 1994.
4. Pointel JP, et al. Titrated extract of Centella asiatica (TECA) in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Angiology 38: 46-50, 1987.
5. Cesarone MR, et al. Activity of Centella asiatica in venous insufficiency. Minerva Cardioangiol 42: 137-143, 1992.
6. Murray M. The healing power of herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995: 177.
7. Nalini K, et al. Effect of Centella asiatica fresh leaf aqueous extract on learning and memory and biogenic amine turnover in albino rats. Fitoterapia 63(3): 232-237, 1992.
8. Kartnig T. Clinical applications of Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. herbs Spices Med Plants 3: 146-173, 1988.
9. Laerum OD, et al. Reticuloses and epidermal tumors in hairless mice after topical skin applications of cantharidin and asiaticoside. Cancer Res 32: 1463-1469, 1972.
10. Bosse JP, et al. Clinical study of a new antikeloid drug. Ann Plast Surg 3: 13-21, 1979.
11. Basellini A, et al. Varicose disease in pregnancy. Ann Obstet Gyn Med Perinat 106: 337-341, 1985.