Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a creeping plant that is mostly found in marshy areas, and is characterized by fan-shaped leaves. It is said that the leaves of gotu kola resemble the old British penny in size, and so the plant is also called the Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort, and water pennywort. It is also known as Hydrocotyle asiatica and Trisanthus cochinchinensis. The tasteless and odorless leaves, and the stems are used for medicinal purposes. Gotu kola is an important herb that is used in Ayurveda and the traditional Chinese medicine. Though it is a safe herb, gotu kola may cause some side effects, in rare cases.
- The most common side effects are drowsiness and itching.
- Other adverse effects include headache, nausea, dizziness, stomach upset, skin reactions, and burning sensation.
- In most cases, overdose or long-term use of the herb are associated with side effects.
- Topical use of gotu kola may cause mild to severe forms of contact dermatitis.
- It has also been observed that some people develop light sensitivity and vertigo, after using this herb.
- Some of the users may develop allergic reactions too.
- It has been suggested that gotu kola use may lead to liver damage.
- Those with liver problems must avoid this herb, as it can worsen the condition.
- Pregnant and nursing women and kids should not use this herb.
- Gotu kola is not recommended for those, who use sedatives, diuretics, and drugs for hypoglycemia and high cholesterol.
This herb has been used in India, Sri Lanka, and some other Southeast Asian countries, for thousands of years. Apart from being used for culinary purposes, gotu kola is also a highly valued herbal medicine, which is used to treat various medical conditions. The leaves are widely used in Indian, Sri Lankan, and Malay cuisine. This herb is considered an adaptogen that enhances the body's resistance to stress and fatigue. Apart from that, gotu kola is said to have antibacterial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used as a diuretic and cerebral tonic. Nowadays, gotu kola is sold as a nutritional supplement. It is commonly available in the form of powder, tincture, tablet, tea, ointment, and capsules.
Traditionally, gotu kola is used for treating a wide range of diseases and disorders, like hepatitis, syphilis, stomach ulcer, mental fatigue, epilepsy, diarrhea, fever, asthma, and arthritis. It is said to be effective in treating venous insufficiency, which may lead to varicose veins and deep vein thrombosis. This herb is also used for treating hypertension and hemorrhoids. It is said that use of gotu kola is beneficial for enhancing memory and intelligence. It is also claimed to be good for skin health, and so is used to heal wounds and reduce stretch marks. Gotu kola herb is believed to be effective in alleviating the symptoms of leprosy, eczema, skin tuberculosis, scleroderma, and schistosomiasis. It is also used for treating insomnia and anxiety.
A qualified herbal practitioner is the best person to guide you about using gotu kola for medicinal purposes. It will be better to seek the opinion of your physician before starting the herbal treatment. Stick to the prescribed dosage and duration of treatment, to prevent the possible side effects.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.