A whopping 8.3 million Australians used vitamins, minerals, and supplements in 2018.
Experts project this to number to grow further, thanks to rising health awareness. In fact, the estimated value of the vitamin and supplement market in 2019 was a staggering $533.5 million!
One ingredient that has been gaining traction in the Oz supplement market is Gotu kola. Also described as “a pharmacy in one herb”, this plant grows in the warmer parts of the country. Interestingly, it's also considered a weed because of its hardiness and survival abilities.
The question now is, what is Gotu kola and how has this weed become a superfood? What benefits can it provide and are there any studies to support such claims?
We'll answer all these questions in this post, so be sure to keep reading!
What Is Gotu Kola?
Gotu kola is the Chinese name of the “centella asiatica” (CA) plant. In Indian Ayurveda, it's known as the “Indian pennywort”, “mandukparni” or “Jal Brahmi”. This perennial herb also has deep roots in traditional Indonesian herbal medicine.
Gotu kola, thriving in and near water sources, is odourless and tasteless. It has small, bright green fan-shaped leaves and blooms white, light pink or purple flowers. It also bears tiny oval fruits.
Everything, from the plant's leaves to its roots, serves a medicinal purpose.
What’s So Special About It?
Saponins, however, are the main active components of the CA plant. These compounds are also known as triterpenoids.
In Gotu kola, the most abundant of the triterpenoids are asiaticosides. These are the main reason for the plant's wound-healing effects.
The plant's active ingredients also show promise in treating vein and memory-related problems. Moreover, current research suggests that Gotu kola has anti-anxiety and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Promotes Faster Wound Healing
Early studies, like this one, looked at the effects of Gotu kola formulations on open wounds in rats. The researchers applied ointment, cream, and gel on the wounds three times a day for 24 days.
They found that the wound sites had an increase in collagen and tensile strength. They also found the treated areas to have a higher cellular proliferation.
In short, the Gotu kola topicals helped heal the wounds faster than without treatment. The scientists, however, noted that the gel formulation had better results.
A more recent study confirmed Gotu kola's ability to heal different types of wounds. However, the researchers also noted the plant's extra benefits in reducing infection. In fact, they noted that the plant is more effective for wounds than commercial topicals.
May Help Minimise Scarring and Signs of Photoaging
Aside from helping wounds heal faster, Gotu kola may also help minimise scarring and keloids. This appears to be an effect of CA's ability to boost the tensile strength of new skin. Researchers say that these properties can also benefit photoaged skin.
An Effective Treatment for Chronic Venous Hypertension
Gotu kola has also shown effectiveness in improving chronic venous hypertension. This is, again, a benefit of the plant's ability to synthesise collagen and heal wounds. According to researchers, its active ingredients can even remodel the venous walls.
May Help Ease Anxiety Symptoms
Early findings suggest that Gotu kola has anti-anxiety effects. One study confirmed that the plant indeed has anxiolytic properties. The researchers, however, noted that the effects were only for acute anxiety.
In a 2016 study, the plant showed anxiety-easing benefits in sleep-deprived rats.
More studies are no doubt needed, but the early results are promising. Especially since inadequate sleep is a huge issue in AU, with 7.4 million adults not getting enough sleep.
May Be Useful for Treating Depression
Amino acid imbalance can worsen depressive symptoms. Worse, it affects the brain's ability to regulate moods.
The good news is, Gotu kola has an antidepressant activity that targets these imbalances. It appears to help control and manage imbalances in amino acid levels.
It May Help Boost Cognitive Function in Stroke Patients
One study looked at the effects of both folic acid and Gotu kola in stroke patients. The researchers noted that both helped improve the patients' cognitive functions. However, they also reported that Gotu kola as better in boosting the memory domain.
It Has Brain-Toxicity-Protective Properties
Asiaticoside extracts have also shown antioxidative effects. These properties may protect the brain and nerves from toxicity. In fact, studies found that Gotu kola minimised cellular death in mice models.
Moreover, Asiatic acid and asiaticoside also prevented cells from dying due to beta-amyloid. Beta-amyloid is one of the primary culprits behind Alzheimer's disease.
How To Use Gota Kola for Better Health
In Australia, you can find fresh Gotu kola or even grow your own if you have a green thumb. This way, you can prepare and enjoy freshly-steeped Gotu kola tea as part of your daily meals or diet. You can even use it for cooking just like how the Javanese, Indians, Malaysians, and Vietnamese do!
You can also add raw parts of the plant to your cold press juices and smoothies. You can use a blender to make smoothies or if you have one, a cold-pressed juicer like Naturopress.
The easiest way to add Gotu kola to your diet, however, is to take it in supplement form. Powdered, tea, capsules, and tinctures are some of your options. There are also commercial Gotu kola topicals for treating wounds and skin issues.
Gotu Kola May Help You Get Your Health Back in Check
There you have it, everything you need to know about the question, “what is Gotu kola?” Now that you know more about this superfood's potential benefits, it's a good idea to try it out. It’s not too late to adopt healthier habits this 2020, and taking Gotu kola supplements is a great way to start.
Interested in other supplements that may help boost your health and overall well-being? Then please feel free to check out our collection of high-quality supplements! Head over to our blog section as well for more useful guides like this.