Gotu Kola (Pennywort or Centella asiatica) is known for increasing blood vessel, collagen growth, and preventing swelling while also possessing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Read on to learn about the benefits and potential side effects of Gotu Kola.

What is the Gotu Kola Plant?

Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) is one of the herbs used in a Tai-Chi tradition for longevity.

The plant itself can soak up heavy metals from the soil. As such, ensuring the source you are consuming is organic, or at least doesn’t contain dangerous heavy metals, is important. Copper accumulates in its roots; manganese and lead accumulate in the leaves [1].

Not only does Gotu Kola increase the potency of THC, caffeine, and sex hormones, it lowers inflammation, improves long-term memory, and improves healing.

Gotu Kola Constituents

Gotu Kola contains [2, 3, 4]:

  • centellasaponins A, B, C, and D
  • madecassoside (brahminoside)
  • asiaticoside A, B, C, D, E, and F
  • sceffoleoside A
  • asiatic acid
  • madecassic acid (brahmic acid)
  • isothankunic acid
  • alpha-humulene
  • germacrene B/D
  • beta-caryophyllene
  • centellin
  • asiaticin
  • cenetellicin

Health Benefits of Gotu Kola

1) May Prevents Hair Loss

Gotu Kola increased hair growth in six rats, increasing the number of hairs per area and the length of each hair. Although, it’s even better when combined with Aloe Vera, Eclipta alba (false daisy), Ocimum sanctum (holy basil), and Emblica officinalis (Amla) [5].

Gotu Kola also lowered free radicals and stress in mice, both known to cause hair loss [6, 7, 8].

2) Protects Blood Vessels

The terpenes in Gotu Kola increase collagen production, leading to lower blood pressure and help with swelling (edema) [9].

This was also found in a placebo-controlled study [10].

3) Improves Psoriasis

Gotu Kola can inhibit skin cell reproduction. While it is a treatment for psoriasis, it is not as strong as the standard drug used (psoralen) [11].

4) Improves Stomach Ulcers

Gotu Kola increased cell healing and reduced the size of ulcers in rats (by reducing myeloperoxidase and increasing bFGF) [12, 13, 14].

5) May Heal Wounds and Cellulite

Asiaticasoide, found in Gotu Kola, increased skin strength and skin collagen to better heal wounds in pigs and rats [15].

It also increased SOD, catalase, glutathione, Vitamin E, and Vitamin C in skin damage in rats [16, 17].

Asiatic acid, also in Gotu Kola, increased collagen production, further benefiting the healing of wounds [18].

Similar results have been found for Gotu Kola in regards to improving the healing of burns [19, 20].

Further, Gotu Kola has been used for stretch marks, raised scars, inflammation (phlebitis and cellulite), and leprosy [21].

6) May Reduce Anxiety

In rats, Gotu Kola improved anxiety; in humans, Gotu Kola prevented being easily startled [7, 22].

7) Increases cAMP Response (CREB)

The Gotu Kola leaf increased the cAMP response element-binding protein (CREB) [23].

CREB is increased by antidepressants and is involved in forming long-term memories [24, 25].

8) May Reduce Inflammation

Asiatic acid and madecassic acid, found in Gotu Kola, inhibited IL-1 beta, IL-6, and TNF-alpha (as well as inhibiting iNOS and COX-2) in bacteria-infected cells [26, 27].

Thus, it prevented going into shock from infection and increased clotting, which is useful for infected cuts [28].

9) May Prevent Free Radical Damage

The phenols in Gotu Kola provide antioxidant and anti-tumor benefits in mouse cells [6].

10) Increases Serotonin and Dopamine and Lowers Cortisol

In rats, Gotu Kola lowered their version of cortisol (corticosterone) and increased serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine [29].

Lower cortisol improves long-term memory and lowers aggression [30].

It may also be useful for sleep disorders [31].

11) May Prevent Thrombosis

A component in Gotu Kola prevented thrombosis by inhibiting blood clotting in certain rat models [32, 33].

12) Kills Cancer and Slows Tumor Growth

Known as an antiproliferative, Gotu Kola slowed the growth of some types of human tumor cells [34].

Got Kola inhibited human melanoma and breast cancer cells in test-tube models, however, clinical research is needed [3536].

13) May Inhibit Herpes

Gotu Kola helped clear up herpes by inhibiting herpes virus (HSV-1 and HSV-2) in test tube cultures. The effect was stronger when combined with mango [37, 38].

14) May Improve Alzheimer’s Disease

Gotu Kola prevented nerve cell death in test tube models of Alzheimer’s by reducing the negative effects of amyloid beta [39].

15) May Help Mood Disorders Such as Depression

Since Gotu Kola decreases inflammation, researchers are studying whether it could treat schizophrenia and depression [2640].

Gotu Kola also lowered signs of despair in rats [41].

Notes on Supplementing with Gotu Kola

Dosage

A lot of people take around 1,000 mg of Gotu Kola per day in capsules. Gotu Kola tea is another method and people have 1-5 cups over the day with about 1 g per cup.

Side Effects

Gotu Kola extract dosed at 300 mg per day for 21 days in humans found no side effects [42].

However, some people have associated skin itching or burning from topical Gotu Kola, or low blood pressure, headache, nausea, dizziness, and drowsiness with too much Gotu Kola tea.

Drug Interactions

Gotu Kola inhibits CYP2C9, CYP2D6, and CYP3A4. All three enzymes are involved in drug metabolism, therefore the use of Gotu Kola can increase the potency and effect duration of many drugs [43].

CYP2C9 inhibition decreases the metabolism and increases the effects of ibuprofen, THC, ketamine, and others [44].

CYP2D6 inhibition decreases the metabolism and increases the effects of opioids, antipsychotics, beta-blockers, amphetamines, and others [44].

CYP3A4 inhibition decreases the metabolism and increases the effects of sex hormones, benzodiazepines, statins, chemotherapy, caffeine, cocaine, and others [44].

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