Gotu kola – aka ‘botox in a bottle
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a native herb of South Africa, India and Sri Lanka which has been a major herb used in Ayurvedic medicine for the last 3,000 years. Its leafy greens are an important food source in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand. Leaves are used fresh in salads or dried as tea.
Gotu kola uses and benefits
Essentially, gotu kola is a facilitator of tissue healing by promoting the speed and quality of connecting tissue regeneration (the building blocks of most body structures) by enhancing the synthesis of collagen in the body, not just in the skin. There are many herbs that do this when applied topically to the skin but very few have this property after oral consumption.
Due to this remarkable ability gotu kola has been called a ‘botox in a bottle’. Hence it’s used for healing wounds, reducing scarring and, according to some studies, reducing superficial as well as deep wrinkles, firming up the skin, and also promoting the growth of hair and nails.
According to one study, a cream containing gotu kola applied around the eyes of 27 women for 12 weeks was associated with improvement or elimination of wrinkles in 18 (1). Another six-month randomised, double blind study was conducted on sun-damaged skin of 20 female volunteers to assess the impact of a topical treatment containing vitamin C and gotu kola.
The researchers concluded that there was a significant improvement in the clinical score for deep and superficial wrinkles, suppleness, firmness, roughness and skin hydration.
These results were corroborated by objective tests where the reappearance of normally structured, “young” elastic fibre network was observed. In China gotu kola is called the “Fountain of Youth” – and by name alone may inspire those looking for a way to look better for longer.
Gotu kola is often used in pharmaceuticals as an active ingredient in weight loss formulas, cosmetics, body firming products, wound healing and anti-aging skin care products. Importantly, gotu kola contains no caffeine or any stimulant (do not confuse it with the Kola nut), yet it is used extensively to increase energy and vitality as well as tackling depression and mental fatigue.
The Indian yogis believe that gotu kola helps in their meditation, mental alertness and mental focusing. Students have also reported better memory and information retention during exams.
The herb also helps to purify the blood, promotes better circulation, increases energy, helps with high blood pressure, balances blood sugar, rejuvenates and balances the mind, assists with weight loss, helps with arthritis and rheumatism, treats liver and kidney problems, and is anti-stress. It is a good source of vitamin K (which is used in blood clotting as well as bone maintenance and repair), magnesium, calcium, sodium, vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Other studies showed that gotu kola could be very useful for healing and restoring stomach lining preventing and healing ulcers, including duodenal ulcers, and supporting / normalising hydrochloric acid (stomach acid) production instead of acid blocking drugs (2).
It is also helpful to use gotu kola in detoxification programs