Gotu Kola or Centella
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GOTU KOLA  
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Botanical:  Centella asiatica (also known as Hydrocotyle asiatica)
Family:  Apiaceae (parsley)
Other common names:  Centella, Indian Pennywort, Asiatic Pennywort, Brahmi, Chi-hsing, Hydrocotyle, Tiger Grass

To rejuvenate your body and boost your energy, endurance and mental clarity, try Gotu Kola. This time-honored herb has a reputation for alleviating fatigue and depression, treating memory loss and even prolonging life!  An ancient proverb claimed, "Two leaves a day keep old age away."

Disclaimer:
The information presented herein by Herbal Extracts Plus is intended for educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent disease. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

History:
Gotu Kola is a low-growing, perennial creeping vine that is native to India and may be found in marshy areas and roadside ditches in China, Africa, Sri Lanka and other parts of Southeast Asia.  Interestingly, it may also be found in the southeastern part of the United States.  The plant has long-stalked, green kidney-shaped leaves with rounded apices that have a smooth texture and palmately netted veins. In Indian cuisine, it is sometimes served as a salad or cooked vegetable and has also been used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine to improve circulation and revitalize the nerves and brain cells.  In Sri Lanka, the leaves are said to be the favored food of elephants (an elephant never forgets?).  Historically, in traditional Indian and Chinese medicines, Gotu Kola is considered to be one of the best herbal nerve tonics and a life-enhancer that contributes to long life.  The herb is prominently featured in the Shen Nong Herbal, compiled in China over two thousand years ago, as one of the "miracle elixirs of life," and legend says that the Chinese herbalist, LiChing Yun, who claimed to have lived for 256 years, credited Gotu Kola for his longevity.  In the nineteenth century, Gotu Kola was incorporated into the Indian Pharmacopoeia and was recommended for wound healing and the treatment of skin conditions, such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema and psoriasis.  It was also used to treat diarrhea, fever, amenorrhea and diseases of the female genitourinary tract and was first accepted as a drug in France in the 1880s.  Gotu Kola is rich in beta-carotene, sterols (campesterol, stigmasterol and sitosterol), saponins (also called triterpenoids), alkaloids, flavonols, saccharides, amino and fatty acids, calcium, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc and vitamins B1, B2, B3, C and K.  Its active ingredients sometimes vary, depending on the geographic area from which the herb is gathered, but it does not contain cola or caffeine, as its name would suggest.

Beneficial Uses:
This time-honored herb has a reputation for improving concentration and learning ability.  It is a restorative tonic for mental decline in old age, because it protects the blood vessels that supply oxygen to the brain and helps to stimulate circulation.  It is considered a "brain food" that increases mental activity.  Gotu Kola is sometimes known as the "memory herb" that revitalizes the brain cells and helps in the treatment of Alzheimer's disease and memory loss.  It is also believed to prevent ageing.

Gotu Kola restores balance to the nervous system.  Its sedative qualities help to treat nervous disorders and neurotic disturbances.  It revitalizes the nerves and is said to be especially effective when used proactively to avoid and treat a nervous breakdown.

Help treat cellulite, swollen ankles and varicose veins with Gotu Kola.  When the connective tissues under the skin that hold deep-level fat cells break down and are no longer able to hold fat in place, Gotu Kola's compounds shrink tissues and increase glycosaminoglycan production, so fat cells are not further displaced.  In addition, when blood circulation in the veins of the legs is improved and capillaries are strengthened, varicose veins may be prevented.  Because it stimulates blood circulation throughout the body, Gotu Kola is used to treat peripheral vascular disease (diseases of arteries and veins of arms and legs).

Gotu Kola's astringent qualities help to detoxify the body by drawing fluid from tissues.  It promotes urination, helps to eliminate excess fluid from the body, and is effective in lowering fever.

Gotu Kola helps improve blood circulation throughout the body and is therefore considered an overall tonic for rejuvenation and natural repair.  It will help combat fatigue and depression, increase sex drive (it is also considered an aphrodisiac), strengthen the immune system, improve appetite and enhance energy and stamina.

As an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial, Gotu Kola has been used to treat syphilis, tuberculosis, rheumatism, and alleviate bowel complaints. 

In some studies, Gotu Kola was given to patients with chronic liver disease, and there was an improvement; and historically, the herb has long been used to treat jaundice.

Gotu Kola balances hormones and has been used to relieve menopausal discomforts in women, especially hot flashes, vaginal dryness and depression.

One active ingredient in Gotu Kola, asiaticoside, works to stimulate skin repair and to strengthen skin, hair, nails and connective tissue.  The saponin known as asiaticoside beneficially affects collagen, the material that makes up connective tissue and is beneficial for healthy skin.

Gotu Kola supports good cardiovascular and circulatory health.  It improves blood circulation, and researchers claim it supports a healthy heart, slows heart rate and lowers blood pressure.

Gotu Kola is a mild herbal sedative that promotes a calming effect in the body and has been useful in treating sleep disorders.

Used internally, Gotu Kola has a beneficial effect on collagen production in the body, improving skin tone, and extracts are often added to cosmetic masks.  Used topically, Gotu Kola's saponins help to make an excellent poultice for minor wounds or wounds that do not heal, heal burns and reduce the amount of eventual scarring.  Researchers found that in tests, when it was applied to psoriasis-affected areas, the lesions were healed.  This herb has been an age-old treatment for leprosy, skin ulcers, eczema and other skin problems.

Contraindications:
Pregnant or nursing women should not take Gotu Kola Herbal Supplement.  Since it may interfere with prescription diabetes medications, a doctor should be consulted before using.  Those taking cholesterol-lowering medications should not use Gotu Kola.   Do not mix with tranquilizers, since it may have narcotic effect.  It is not appropriate for people with epilepsy or for people who are sensitive to light.  Continued, repeated topical application is not recommended.  The use of Gotu Kola for more than six weeks is not recommended. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to six weeks) should take a two-week break before taking the herb again.

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