Gotu Kola and its Dangers
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Sandy Sevier
Posted on: September 6, 1998

What is "Gota Kola", its uses and any dangers?

Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a creeping herb found in the jungles of India, Sri Lanka, southern China, Indonesia and elsewhere. It is very easy to grow from plant starts, although it is more of a challenge from seeds.

It is a plant whose reputation was sullied by an unfortunate error by some government regulators who mistook gotu kola for the kola nut (Cola acuminata), a West African tree and source of nuts that are very high in caffeine. It appears that most of the confusion about gotu kola can be attributed to this misidentification.

Gotu kola is claimed by Chinese and Indian herbalists to have rejuvenating properties, helping to revitalize the cells of the brain and retard the effects of aging on memory and brain function. One or two leaves daily is said to work. Although this folkloric usage has not yet received modern validation from medical science, there seems to be enough agreement among several Asian herbal traditions to suggest that there may well be something to this mental enhancement effect.

Better studied and backed up by research is gotu kola’s many wound healing properties. It is recognized as having a special ability to repair connective tissue. Through this ability, it helps to heal wounds, sprains, bruises, scars, ligaments, bones, etc.

Although warnings against overuse stem from the government confusion with the kola nut, it is still prudent to limit ingestion until more is known about the safety of gotu kola use. One to two leaves a day have been recommended for the brain effect. It is worth noting that in Sri Lanka gotu kola is commonly eaten in soup made with coconut milk.

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