- Indian pennywort
For Patients & Caregivers
How It Works
Only a few studies suggest that gotu kola may be helpful for wound healing or poor circulation. Larger studies that confirm such results are needed.
Gotu kola is a plant that contains many biologically active compounds. Although this botanical is popular in traditional medicines, it has mostly been studied in the lab. A variety of properties have been described, including improved wound healing and anti-inflammatory effects.
Only a few studies of gotu kola have been conducted in humans. Some data suggest that it can decrease venous pressure in people with venous insufficiency, speed wound healing, relieve anxiety, or improve cognition. However, there is insufficient evidence to support its use for any of these conditions.
- To lower high blood pressure Several clinical trials suggest that gotu kola can reduce venous hypertension in patients with chronic venous insufficiency, but there is no evidence that this herb can treat typical (arterial) high blood pressure.
- To treat chronic venous insufficiency Several clinical trials suggest benefit.
- To treat wounds or burns Only a few lab and human studies suggest that gotu kola aids in wound healing and may reduce inflammation. Additional studies are needed.
- To improve cognitive function A preliminary study suggests benefit, but a meta-analysis did not find strong enough evidence to support the use of gotu kola for cognitive function improvement. Larger well-designed studies are needed.
Do Not Take If
For Healthcare Professionals
Gotu kola is an evergreen perennial plant that is prevalent in East Asia and many parts of South Africa. Extracts from the leaf and the whole plant are used for a variety of conditions including venous insufficiency, varicose veins, wound healing, scleroderma, and scars. In vitro and in vivo analyses indicate that gotu kola has neuroprotective (13) and chemopreventive (14) (19) properties, and also protects against cognitive impairment (20). Other laboratory studies suggest the active constituent madecassoside has antiarthritic (5) and cardioprotective properties (4) and that topical application of an asiaticoside extracted from gotu kola may enhance burn wound healing (6).
Only a few studies have been conducted in humans. Data show a reduction in lower extremity edema with gotu kola compared to placebo in patients with chronic venous insufficiency (1) (2) (3). With respect to wounds, one study suggests an oral extract may speed healing in diabetic patients (22). In another study, treatment with a topical gotu kola ointment improved both objective and subjective symptoms in burn wound patients compared with silver sulfadiazine (29). A few small studies suggest that supplementation with gotu kola improved cognitive function and mood in the elderly (7), and alleviated generalized anxiety disorder (16), although a meta-analysis did not find strong enough evidence to support the use of gotu kola for cognitive function improvement (30). Larger well-designed studies are needed to confirm these effects.
Gotu kola should not be confused with kolanut. Gotu kola does not contain any caffeine and has not been shown to have stimulant properties.
Mechanism of Action
Triterpenoids have been identified as active constituents in gotu kola. Asiaticoside demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting lipopolysaccharide-induced fever and inflammatory response, including production of serum tumor necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin-6, prostaglandin E(2), liver myeloperoxidase activity, and expression of brain cyclooxygenase-2 protein (23). Asiaticoside also promotes wound healing by stimulating collagen and glycosaminoglycan synthesis, and angiogenesis (6). Another study showed that a gotu kola extract may regulate stress-induced premature senescence by preventing repression of DNA replication and mitosis-related gene expression (24).
A water extract of gotu kola prevented the formation of intracellular beta-amyloid aggregates in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease with high amounts of beta-amyloid (25).