Gotu Kola - What is Gotu Kola?

Gotu kola (Hydrocotyle asiatica) has a longhistory of use in traditional Eastern herbal medicine. This plant gained areputation for longevity when Sri Lankans saw elephants (animals known for theirlong and healthy lives) eating Gotu kola leaves. This creeping plant grows inswampy regions of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa and tropical areasof the world.

This Asian species isreputed to bring long life to the user. According to the Sinhalese proverb:"Two leaves a day will keep old age away."

As the story goes, people in Sri Lanka noticedthat elephants, animals known for their longevity, included Centellaleaves in their diet. Extrapolation suggested that this creeping herb ofSoutheast Asian swamps might be good for almost anything that could ail a human,as well.

In Sri Lanka it is eaten as a salad, and inVietnam it is considered an edible weed. It has been part of Ayurvedic medicinefor a long time.

C. asiatica also grows in Madagascar,parts of southern Africa, and some parts of China. In Chinese medicine, it isknown as luo de da or ji xue cao and is used to lower fever, promote urination,and "detoxify" the body.

The leaves and other aboveground parts of theplant are used.

Active Ingredients

C. asiatica contains several saponins,including brahmoside and brahminoside, and a number of alkaloids.

Madecassoside and asiaticoside appear tocontribute to the plant's medicinal activity. It also contains flavones, aminoacids, fatty acids, sterols, saccharides, and some mineral salts.


Gotu kola is traditionally used for high bloodpressure and to treat nervous disorders.

Chinese research suggests that it slows heartrate as well as lowers blood pressure. It also has some antibacterial activity.

Gotu kola extract (as titrated extract of C.asiatica, or TECA) has been studied for its effect on varicose veins as wellas on poor venous circulation in the legs.

The results suggest that the extract canstimulate the synthesis of collagen in the walls of the veins and help them holdtheir tone and function better.

Other traditional uses of C. asiaticainclude skin problems, rheumatism, jaundice, and fever. Tests of TECA in animalsshowed that topical application helped experimental wounds heal faster.Asiaticoside may be responsible.

TECA has also been observed in clinicalsettings, where it appears to speed healing of surgical incisions and skinulcers. In one trial it was administered to patients with parasitic infectionsthat damage the bladder. Three-fourths of these patients recovered well, withlittle or no bladder scarring.

Tantalizing test tube research suggests that a Centellaextract can destroy cultured cancer cells. It is far too soon, however, todetermine whether it will be useful as an anticancer agent. Animal andeventually clinical studies will be needed.

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

High doses of the extract have a sedativeeffect on small animals.

Animal research also indicates that some gotukola constituents can reduce fertility. Although the plant has a reputation asan aphrodisiac, no research supports this use.

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