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Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a frontline medicine in most herbal traditions. In Ayurveda, it’s called “brahmi,”which means “godlike,” a reference to its prodigious benefits. It strengthens memory, concentration, and intelligence; promotes longevity; and improves the voice, physical strength, and complexion. A 2020 scientific review pointed out its use in neurological, endocrine, skin, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, immune, and gynecological diseases, and mentioned anti-inflammatory, antioxidative stress effects.
Gotu kola strengthens memory, concentration, and intelligence, and stabilizes mood. A 2017 scientific assessment found that it also increases alertness and reduces anger. Recently, a Korean study concluded that components in gotu kola show potential for treating Alzheimer’s disease, a very promising direction. Follow-up animal research from India used gotu kola tea to improve cognitive behavior in two different laboratory models of Alzheimer’s disease. A thorough 2020 study in the journal Brain Science described gotu kola as having extensive promise in this area, and another study reported that gotu kola constituents reversed cognitive deficits in an Alzheimer’s model.
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Gotu kola is used in the repair of nerve tissues from crushing trauma, such as spinal injury and neuromuscular disorders. The herb has shown potential in enhancing neuroregeneration, including the regeneration of crushed sciatic nerves and protection from neuronal injury in hypoxia conditions. A recent discovery from Oregon Health and Science University validated gotu kola’s use for treating diabetic neuropathy, and in 2020, scientists reported that gotu kola helped regenerate a peripheral nerve.
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Did you know … Gotu kola is exceptionally high in B-complex vitamins, especially in B1, B2, and B6, all of which are essential nutrients for the nervous system
Gotu kola actually heals and regrows new skin, gently closing and repairing even long-standing lesions in the most dramatically scarred skin. It has been documented to aid wound healing in studies, where it appeared to stimulate type-1 collagen production. Animal studies have consistently shown that topical application to a sutured wound significantly increases the breaking strength of the wound. European and Indian researchers, in several studies, confirmed that gotu kola compounds promote rapid healing in wounds. Internal wounds (intestinal ulcers) also respond to gotu kola.
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Gotu kola heals all kinds of connective tissue, from skin and fascia to muscles and bones. Known for centuries in Asia for its treatment of leprosy, gotu kola helps heal a host of skin conditions. This herb stimulates the growth of hair and nails, increases blood supply to connective tissue, enhances the formation of structural constituents in connective tissue, promotes the tensile integrity of the skin, and increases protein growth (keratinization) in the skin. In controlled trials of gotu kola and turmeric against placebo among 360 eczema patients, the herb improved every eczema symptom, including red patches, scaling, itching, and thick, leathery skin.
The active substances in gotu kola are thought to be triterpenes, steroid-like compounds that improve the function and integrity of the collagen matrix and support the “ground substance”—the basic glue that holds the cells of our skin together.
An exciting study of gotu kola for extreme inflammatory skin disease was done over 25 years ago. Gotu kola was effective in 85 percent of patients. Russian scientists repeated the experiment and duplicated the results. One paper looked at various gotu kola extracts and determined that alcohol and water preparations were beneficial.
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Get with the Flow
This flimsy little salad herb also has a long history of use in cardiovascular conditions, including venous insufficiency, varicose veins, hemorrhoids, and arterial plaque. In a double-blind study, 94 patients with venous insufficiency of the lower extremities took a triterpenoid extract of gotu kola at a daily dose of 60 mg or 120 mg for three months. Individuals who took either dose had significant improvements in limb heaviness and edema compared to the placebo group.
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How to Take It
The capsule or tea dose can be up to 15 grams per day. Many people use a modest dose of 1 gram in capsules for daily rejuvenation. Also try a cup of gotu kola tea with honey before meditation.