Centella asiatica. Family: Apiaceae
hydrocotyle, Indian pennywort, marsh penny, talepetako, thick-leaved pennywort, white rot
Gotu kola is a perennial creeping plant that grows in warmer climates worldwide. It has been used as a medicinal agent in India and neighboring areas since ancient times. It was believed to enhance life span and was also used to treat leprosy.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) contains three main active ingredients: asiatic acid, asiaticoside and madecassic acid. When used topically, Gotu kola may enhance wound healing and help clear chronic skin lesions.
Medically Valid Uses:
The chemical agents madecassoside and asiaticoside found in gotu kola increase the production of collagen during wound healing. These agents also tend to increase the strength of the deposited collagen. Asiaticoside and madecassoside appear to be effective whether applied topically or taken internally.
Because of the wound-healing properties of gotu kola, extracts of it have been used with some success to improve skin ulcers associated with scleroderma. Gotu kola does not cure scleroderma; however, it can speed healing of some ulcers.
Madecassol (madecassoside and asiaticoside, components of gotu kola) has been used to prevent keloid formation, a type of hypertrophic or exaggerated scar. It is thought to be as effective as other treatments, including cortisone injections and continuous pressure bandages.
Despite claims, extracts of gotu kola have not been clearly demonstrated to be effective against mycobacteria, organisms that cause diseases such as leprosy and tuberculosis.
Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.
Gotu kola is traditionally used as an anti-microbial, an ulcer-protective, a sedative and anti-depressant, and an aphrodisiac (to increase sexual desire or ability).
It has also been claimed to be helpful in the management of rheumatism, skin conditions, diarrhea, asthma, high blood pressure, chronic liver disorders and vein problems or dysfunctions.
Gotu kola can be applied as a topical ointment or compress to the skin, or it can be ingested as dried leaves or an infusion three times a day. (Each dose should be between 0.33 and 0.68 grams.)
Trademark products containing gotu kola include Centasium, Centelase, Emdecassol and Madecassol. These are topical agents applied to the skin.
Side Effects, Toxicity and Interactions:
There are no known side effects associated with gotu kola within the recommended dosage.
Used topically, gotu kola may cause contact dermatitis. Discontinue use if a rash or irritation develops.
Do not exceed the recommended dose. Gotu kola may increase serum cholesterol, and may be weakly carcinogenic.
This herb is not recommended for children under age 2, for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding, for those taking other sedatives or for those with a history of cancer.
This herb may interact with hypoglycemic medications.
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