- Indian pennywort
- luei gong gen
- kaki kuda
For Patients & Caregivers
Bottom Line: Gotu kola has not been shown to treat or prevent cancer.
Gotu kola is a plant that contains many biologically active compounds. Although this botanical has been studied extensively in the laboratory, very few studies have been conducted in humans. Laboratory studies have found a range of effects including improved wound healing and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies in humans have suggested that gotu kola can decrease venous pressure in people with venous insufficiency and may be able to relieve anxiety.
- To treat burns
Laboratory data and few human studies suggest that gotu kola aids in wound healing.
- To lower high blood pressure
Several clinical trials show 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 psoriasis
Laboratory experiments suggest that gotu kola can reduce inflammation, but human data are lacking.
- For sedation
One preliminary study in humans found that gotu kola can decrease the “startle response.”
- To treat chronic venous insufficiency
Several clinical trials support this use.
In this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 28 participants (> 61 years of age) received either gotu kola extracts (250, 500, or 750 mg daily) or placebo to determine the effect of gotu kola on cognitive function and mood. After 2 months, cognitive function and mood were determined. The greatest improvements in mood and cognitive function were seen in those who received the 750 mg dose of gotu kola.
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). Madecassoside, an active constituent, was shown effective against arthritis (5) and myocardial infarction (4).
Topical application of an asiaticoside extracted from gotu kola enhanced burn wound healing (6), and an herbal preparation containing gotu kola was shown to benefit those with chronic periodontitis (15). Supplementation with gotu kola improved cognitive function and mood in the elderly (7), alleviated generalized anxiety disorder (16) and may help wound healing in diabetic patients (22).
Data also show a reduction in lower extremity edema with gotu kola compared to placebo in patients with chronic venous insufficiency (1)(2)(3).
Gotu kola should not be confused with kolanut. Gotu kola does not contain any caffeine and has not been shown to have stimulant properties.
- Amino Acids: Alanine and serine (major components)
- Terpenoids: Triterpenes, asiaticoside, brahmoside and brahminoside (saponin glycosides), aglycones, asiaticentoic acid, centellic acid, centoic acid and madecassic acid
- Sesquiterpenes: Caryophyllene, trans-B-farnesene
- Volatile Oils: Germacrene D
- Alkaloid: Hydrocotylin
- Flavones: Quercetin, kaempferol, sesquiterpenes, stigmasterol, and sitosterol
- Other Constituents: Vallerine, fatty acids, resin, and tannins
The triterpenoids are considered to be the active constituents in gotu kola. Asiaticoside, a triterpenoid, demonstrates anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced fever and inflammatory response, including production of serum tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha, interleukin (IL)-6 , prostaglandin E(2) (PGE(2), liver myeloperoxidase (MPO) activity, and expression of brain cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-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 (SIPS) 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).
There is preliminary evidence that gotu kola might have sedative and analgesic properties (9).
Wattanathorn J, et al. Positive modulation of cognition and mood in the healthy elderly volunteer following the administration of Centella asiatica. J Ethnopharmacol. Mar 5 2008;116(2):325-332.
In this randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study, 28 participants (> 61 years of age) were given gotu kola extracts (250, 500, or 750 mg daily) or placebo to determine the effect of gotu kola on cognitive function and mood. After 2 months, cognitive function (as assessed by event-related potential and the computerized assessment battery test) and mood (using Bond-Lader visual analogue) were determined. The greatest improvements in mood and cognitive function were detected in subjects who received 750 mg dose of gotu kola.
Larger, long-term studies are warranted.