Gotu Kola supplement plant extract health benefit, side effects, review
January 2 2017 by
Ray Sahelian, M.D.

Centella asiatica herb is commonly used in the Ayurvedic system of medicine. Traditionally, this herb has been used as a nerve tonic for memory and clarity of thinking, for the therapy of anxiety and depression, and sometimes for indigestion. The name gotu kola in Sanskrit is Brahmi, which means wisdom or consciousness.

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Gotu Kola benefits and medical uses, review
Gotu Kola improves circulation, causes alertness, and helps in relaxation. It may also have antioxidant properties. Oral treatment of a methanol extract of gotu kola for 14 days significantly increased the anti-oxidant enzymes, like superoxide dismutase (SOD), catalase and glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx), and anti-oxidants like glutathione (GSH) and ascorbic acid decreased in lymphoma-bearing mice.
   Other studies in mice shows it to have antidepressant and anti-ulcer ability.

Adv Food Nutr Res. 2015. Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica): Nutritional Properties and Plausible Health Benefits. Gotu Kola is a nutritionally important plant and a valued traditional medicine in South East Asia. In this review, the chemical composition, nutritional values, and health benefits of C. asiatica have been discussed in detail to emphasize its usage as traditional food and medicine. This herb is one of the most commonly used green leafy vegetables in some countries including Sri Lanka due to its high amounts of medicinally important triterpenoids and beneficial carotenoids. It is also consumed in the form of juice, drink, and other food products. It is known to contain vitamins B and C, proteins, important minerals, and some other phytonutrients such as flavonoids, volatile oils, tannins, and polyphenol. In vitro and in vivo studies have shown important health benefits like antidiabetic, wound-healing, antimicrobial, memory-enhancing, antioxidant, and neuroprotecting activities. However, detailed scientific approaches on clinical trials regarding health benefits and nutritional values of C. asiatica are limited, hindering the perception of its benefits, mechanisms, and toxicity in order to develop new drug prototypes. In vitro studies have shown that the method of processing gotu kola has an impact on its nutritional values and health-related beneficial compounds.

Anxiolytic effects of standardized extract of Centella asiatica (ECa 233) after chronic immobilization stress in mice.
J Ethnopharmacol. 2012.
The present study demonstrated anxiolytic effect of a gotu kola extract preparation in both acutely and chronically stressed animals. These effects could be mainly accounted by madecassoside and asiaticoside, suggesting a possible use of ECa 233 for the treatment of both acute and chronic anxiety in the pathological state.

A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Gotu Kola on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects.
J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000.
Investigations of the pharmacologic profile of medicinal plants have revealed that a number of plants with purported anxiolytic activity bind to cholecystokinin (CCK) receptors. This finding is intriguing in view of the proposed involvement of CCK in the pathophysiology of fear and anxiety. This double-blind, placebo-controlled study was undertaken to evaluate the anxiolytic activity ofCentella asiatica in healthy subjects. Gotu Kola has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety. Recent studies in the rat have shown that long-term pretreatment with Gotu Kola decreases locomotor activity, enhances elevated-plus maze performance, and attenuates the acoustic startle response (ASR). In this study, the authors evaluated the effects of Gotu Kola on the ASR in humans. Subjects were randomly assigned to receive either a single 12-g orally administered dose of Gotu Kola or placebo. The results revealed that it significantly attenuated the peak ASR amplitude 30 and 60 minutes after treatment. Gotu Kola had no significant effect on self-rated mood, heart rate, or blood pressure. These preliminary findings suggest that Gotu Kola has anxiolytic activity in humans as revealed by the ASR.

Brain health and protecting nerve cells
Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012. Centella asiatica Urban: From Traditional Medicine to Modern Medicine with Neuroprotective Potential. This paper covers the studies relevant to neuroprotective activity of Gotu Kola. The plant is native to the Southeast Asia and has been used traditionally as brain tonic in ayurvedic medicine. The neuroprotective effect of C. asiatica has been searched using the key words "Centella, Centella asiatica, gotu kola, Asiatic pennywort, neuroprotection, and memory" through the electronic databases including Sciencedirect, Web of Science, Scopus, Pubmed, and Google Scholar. According to the literature survey, gotu kola has been reported to have a comprehensive neuroprotection by different modes of action such as enzyme inhibition, prevention of amyloid plaque formation in Alzheimer's disease, dopamine neurotoxicity in Parkinson's disease, and decreasing oxidative stress.

Effect of total triterpenes from Centella asiatica on the depression behavior and concentration of amino acid in forced swimming mice
Zhong Yao Cai. 2003.
Mice were randomly divided into control group, model group and treatment group. The effect of total triterpenes from gotu kola on the immobility time in forced swimming mice and concentration of amino acid in mice brain tissue was observed. Imipramine and total triterpenes from gotu kola reduced the immobility time and ameliorated the imbalance of amino acid levels. The total triterpenes from gotu kola had antidepressant activity.

Heart disease, hardening of the arteries
Minerva Cardioangiol. 2015. Pycnogenol® and Centella Asiatica for preventing asymptomatic atherosclerosis progression into clinical events. The aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the nutritional supplements Pycnogenol and gotu kola on atherosclerosis progression in low-risk, asymptomatic subjects with carotid or femoral stenosing plaques. The study included subjects aged 45-60 with stenosing atherosclerotic plaques (>50- 60%) in at least one carotid or common femoral bifurcation. Subjects were allocated into 3 groups: Group 1 (controls): management was based on education, exercise, diet and lifestyle changes. This same management plan was used in all other groups; Group 2 used Pycnogenol (100 mg/day); Group 3 used Pycnogenol 100 mg/day plus CA, 100 mg/day. The follow-up lasted 4 years. Plaque progression was assessed using the ultrasonic arterial score based on arterial wall morphology, considering plaque characteristics and the number of subjects that had cardiovascular events. Oxidative stress was also evaluated. Pycnogenol and the combination Pycnogenol and gotu kola reduce the progression of arterial plaques and the progression to clinical stages. The reduction in plaques and clinical progression was associated with a reduction in oxidative stress.

High blood pressure, hypertension
This herb has been tested in venous hypertension and venous insufficiency, but I have not seen studies with arterial high blood pressure.

Angiology. 2001 .Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in the treatment of venous hypertension: a clinical, prospective, randomized trial using a combined microcirculatory model.

Q. If someone has high blood pressure, is taking gotu kola safe? I've heard people say it actually lowers blood pressure, true?
   A. Research is scant on this topic, but at this time it does not appear to be harmful in those who have high blood pressure.

How do I use Gotu Kola to treat high blood pressure?
   A. There is no enough research yet to determine the influence of this herb on blood pressure in the long run.

Adjunctive periodontal treatment with Centella asiatica and Punica granatum extracts. A preliminary study.
J Int Acad Periodontol. 2003.
he purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the combined extracts from Gotu kola and P. granatum pericarp on periodontal healing following scaling and root planing in adult periodontitis patients. An innovative herbal medicament was formulated in the form of biodegradable chips for subgingival application. Twenty patients with initial pocket depth 5-8 mm were enrolled into the study. After baseline examination, scaling and root planing of non-target teeth, the target teeth received scaling and root planing followed by subgingival delivery of medicated chips in the test group and unmedicated chips in the placebo group. Probing pocket depth, attachment level, bleeding on probing, gingival index, and plaque index were recorded at baseline, 3 and 6 months. The results showed significant improvements of pocket depth and attachment level in the test sites when compared with the placebo sites at 3 months and with the placebo and control sites at 6 months. All treatment sites exhibited a similar trend of decreasing plaque score. However, the test sites seemed to show slightly better percentage of bleeding on probing. The results indicate that local delivery with Gotu kola and P. granatum extracts plus scaling and root planing significantly reduced the clinical signs of chronic periodontitis.

The healing effects of Centella extract and asiaticoside on acetic acid induced gastric ulcers in rats.
Life Sci. 2004.
In this study, the healing effects of gotu kola water extract and asiaticoside (AC), an active constituent, on acetic acid induced gastric ulcers (kissing ulcers) in rats were examined. Gotu kola was prepared from Centella asiatica dry plant and the concentration of AC was quantitatively determined with the use of high performance liquid chromatography analysis. Different concentrations of gotu kola and AC were orally administered to rats with kissing ulcers. They were found to reduce the size of the ulcers at day 3 and 7 in a dose-dependent manner, with a concomitant attenuation of myeloperoxidase activity at the ulcer tissues. Epithelial cell proliferation and angiogenesis were on the other hand promoted. The expression of basic fibroblast growth factor, an important angiogenic factor, was also upregulated in the ulcer tissues in rats treated with gotu kola or AC. These results further suggest the potential use of gotu kola and its active ingredient as anti-gastric ulcers drugs.

Venous hypertension
Treatment of edema and increased capillary filtration in venous hypertension with total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (gotu kola): a clinical, prospective, placebo-controlled, randomized, dose-ranging trial. St Mary's Hospital and Imperial College, London, UK. Angiology. 2001.
The variation of capillary filtration rate (CFR), ankle circumference (AC), and ankle edema (AE) was evaluated in three groups of patients with venous hypertension and in a group of normal subjects before and after treatment for 4 weeks with total triterpenic fraction of gotu kola, a venoactive drug acting on the microcirculation and on capillary permeability. The improvement of signs and symptoms by gotu kola observed in patients with venous hypertension was well correlated with the improvement of CFR and ankle edema. Dose ranging showed that 180 mg/day total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica (gotu kola) is more effective in improving symptoms and CFR.

Wound healing
Gotu kola is  used in the treatment of various skin diseases by Ayurvedic doctors.

Effect of Centella asiatica on normal and dexamethasone-suppressed wound healing in Wistar Albino rats.
Int J Low Extrem Wounds. 2006.
The objective of the study presented in this article was to evaluate the wound-healing potential of the ethanolic extract of gotu kola in both normal and dexamethasone-suppressed wound healing. The study was done on Wistar albino rats using incision, excision, and dead space wounds models. The extract of gotu kola significantly increased the wound breaking strength in incision wound model compared to controls. The extract-treated wounds were found to epithelize faster, and the rate of wound contraction was significantly increased as compared to control wounds. The extract of the leaves had the effect of attenuating the known effects of dexamethasone healing in all wound models. The results indicated that the leaf extract promotes wound healing significantly and is able to overcome the wound-healing suppressing action of dexamethasone in a rat model.

Chemical composition
Gotu kola contains various alkaloids, triterpenes, sterols, tannins, and glycosides. Recently three new compounds were isolated from the aerial parts named centellin, asiaticin, and centellicin.

Availability over the counter
Gotu Kola is sold by raw material suppliers in various extract potencies, including a standardized extract of 10% triterpenes. Consumers can purchase it in capsules or liquid extracts.

Gotu Kola side effects, is it safe?
Not enough human research for any prolonged period has been done to know whether it is safe or whether it has side effects.

Gotu kola, centella asiatica herb, has pentacyclic triterpene derivatives. This herb may be used in chronic venous insufficiency and wound healing.

Interactions with medications
I am interested in a gotu kola supplement for my husband who has mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease. It has been recommended by his support group to start taking the gotu kola, my question is he is on a lot of medications, two are for Alzheimer's, Excelon patch and Namenda. Are there any prescription drugs that one should not take with this herb?
   These are very difficult to answer since I am not aware of any research with the combination of this herbal supplement and medications. One option is to begin with a low dosage and see what effects occur. Do so with medical supervision.

Other products online
Nature's Answer, Gotu Kola, Standardized Herbal Extract, 300 mg, 60 Veggie Caps

Supplement Facts
Serving Size: 1 Capsule
  Amount Per Serving % Daily Value
Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) Leaf Extract (standardized for 8% Total Triterpene Glycosides) 300 mg
† Daily Value not established.

Recommendation: Take 1 or 2 gotu kola capsules daily or as directed by your health care provider.
Buy Gotu Kola Herb, 250 mg
Centella asiatica is used in India similar to how the Chinese use Ginseng, for longevity and vitality. Although its name is similar to cola nut, Gotu "Kola" does not contain caffeine. Gotu Kola is sometimes used by individuals wanting to avoid caffeine as a part of their diet.
Supplement Facts
Serving Size 2 Capsules
Servings Per Container 50
Buy Gotu Kola supplement extract capsules
Amount Per Serving: Gotu Kola herb leaf - 500 mg per 2 pills