Gotu Kola (also known as Centella Asiatica) is a type of leafy plant that is indigenous to the tropical wetlands of Southeast Asia and has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine. This plant is believed by practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine to have antimicrobial, antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and memory-enhancing properties. It is widely sold as a dietary supplement in capsule, powder, tincture, and topical formulations.
“Studies show that Gotu kola promotes cerebral circulation, which helps with focus, concentration, and memory,” Ro Giuliano, an herbalist and acupuncturist at Brooklyn’s Maha Rose Center for Healing tells Well+Good. “It also has a sedating quality, so it’s really helpful in calming the mind.” Giuliano has even prescribed the plants to patients who are struggling with ADHD.
But the benefits of Gotu kola don’t stop there! Here’s what else this powerful plant can do:
Fade Dark Spots, Scars, and Stretch Marks
First, let’s take a look at some of the ways that Gotu kola can help our skin. It is often recommended to aid in the lightening of dark spots. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dark spots are believed to be the result of excess heat and dampness in our bodies, and Gotu kola is able to clear it up to reduce toxins and swelling. You can mix Gotu kola powder with water to create a spot treatment for blemishes!
Gotu kola can also aid in wound healing, and scar reduction! A 2015 study on rats found that wound dressing containing Gotu kola had healing effects on multiple types of wounds. This includes clean cuts by sharp objects, irregular tears caused by blunt-force trauma, and infected tissue. A 2013 review found that the terpenoids in Gotu kola increase collagen production in the body which may help to prevent new stretch marks from forming as well as heal existing marks.
Increased Blood Circulation
Hate flying? You’re not alone, and one of the worst parts about frequent flying is the swelling. Research from a 2001 study concluded that Gotu kola can reduce problems with fluid retention, ankle swelling, and circulation tied to taking flights that last longer than three hours. Participants who experienced mild-to-moderate superficial venous disease with varicose veins were asked to take Gotu kola for two days before their flight, the day of their flight, and the day after their flight. The participants who took the supplement experienced significantly less fluid retention and ankle swelling than those who didn’t. So next time you have a long flight, prepare for it by taking Gotu kola supplements in advance!
Reduce Anxiety, and Depression
The most well-researched benefit of Gotu kola is its positive impact on our mental health. Researchers in a 2016 study conducted on mice found that Gotu kola had an anti-anxiety effect on male mice that were sleep deprived for 72 hours. Mice that were given gotu kola for five consecutive days before undergoing sleep deprivation experienced significantly less anxiety-like behavior. And a 2013 study that was conducted on anti-anxiety herbal medicines found that the leafy plant has an acute anti-anxiety effect.
And the benefits don’t just stop at anxiety, it can also be a powerful antidepressant. A 2016 study conducted on 33 people with generalized anxiety disorder found that the herbal remedy had a positive effect on certain elements of behavioral depression, including body weight, body temperature, and heart rate. Participants were asked to take Gotu kola in place of their antidepressant medication for 60 days. After the 60 day period was over researchers of the study noted that Gotu kola “...does have proven neuroprotective and neuroregenerative properties in animal models and also in humans” but admit that more research needs to be done in order to understand why.
Relieve Joint Pain
A 2014 study conducted on rats with collagen-induced arthritis found that oral administration of Gotu kola reduced joint inflammation, cartilage erosion, and bone erosion. “What I really love about Gotu kola is that it protects our existing collagen and helps create the building blocks for new collagen,” Laurel Shaffer, herbalist/botanist and founder of the skincare line, Laurel Whole Plant Organics, tells Well+Good. “If you’re having joint problems, it can be great when taken internally, but it’s also wonderful for supporting the collagen in our skin [when applied topically].”
Dr. Wang Herbal Skincare co-founder Steven Wang, MD has enjoyed a long and successful career as a board-certified dermatologist. He currently holds the title of Director of Dermatologic Surgery and Dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. Dr. Wang and his father Gui Wang, a licensed acupuncturist with over 40 years of experience, have teamed up to create Dr. Wang Herbal Skincare.
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