The healing wonder of Gotu kola

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By Edna Garde

Edible Landscape

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


GOTU kola (Centelia asiatica) is a favorite of elephants, which are notoriously long-lived animals, leading many people to associate it with longevity.

Scientific research though has not shown yet that it can extend your life. Studies however, have found that gotu kola provides other important health benefits. I learned this from the Reader’s Digest.

This is one of the medicinal herbs I grow at home. I heard from an expert in his lecture that “Two leaves of gotu kola a day, drive the doctor away.”

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I’m sorry I forgot from whom I heard it. But from the book The Healing Power of Vitamins, Minerals & Herbs, I am sharing to you wonders of this herb.

Geographically, the medicinal use of gotu kola stems from India, where the herb continues to be part of the ancient healing tradition called Ayurveda.

Word of its therapeutic benefits for skin disorders gradually spread throughout Asia and Europe, and has been prescribed in France since 1880s to treat burns and other wounds.

The leaves of this creeping herb are most commonly used medicinally. It has broad, fan-shaped leaves and the other one, with small and thin leaves you see in some farms.

In Australia, it is commonly known as pennywort. As an anti-inflammatory, gotu kola also helps to relieve arthritis. The standard dose is two leaves a day added to a salad or 2 grams of dried herb three times a day before meal.

Whether taken internally or applied externally as a compress, gotu kola has many beneficial effects. The herbs workhorse substances are chemicals called triterpenes (especially asiaticosides), which appear to enhance the formation of collagen in bones, cartilage and connective tissue.

In addition, they promote healthy blood vessels and help to produce neurotransmitters, the chemical messengers in the brain. That must have been the reason why from the seminar I listened on healthy lifestyle, the lecturer said, “If you don’t want to suffer Alzheimer’s disease, then take gotu kola every day.” The book says take 200 mg three times a day. Or, you can substitute 400-500 mg of the crude herb for each 200 mg dose of the standardized extract.

I don’t know if we have the medicinal forms already here in our pharmacies, because I take it fresh. But my reference says it has five forms already: capsule, tablet, tincture, powder and dried herb/tea.

To summarize its common uses, it treats burns and wounds, builds connective tissues, strengthens veins, improves memory and relieves arthritis.

But pregnant women are cautioned not to use the herb, and those who are trying to conceive. A reminder is also given to those who have a medical condition, to talk to their doctor before taking supplements.

Does it have any side effects? Taking gotu kola orally or using topical preparation generally does not cause problems. Skin rash (dermatitis), headaches are experienced by some, which are rare cases. If you experience these symptoms, reduce the dosage or stop using the herb.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on September 02, 2014.

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