Clayton's Health Facts: Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is a plant that grows in countries such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Learn about its medicinal uses.


What Is It?

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is a creeping plant that grows in tropical climates and swampy areas in India, Pakistan, Madagascar, South Africa and Sri Lanka.

Gotu Kola goes by many names, including Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort, marsh penny, water pennywort, white rot, thick-leaved pennywort, hydrocotyle, Indian water navelwort, and talepetrako.

Gotu Kola is not the same as Kola Nut, though the two plants are routinely confused. Despite their similar names, the plants are not related and whereas Kola Nut contains caffeine and is used in carbonated soft drinks, Gotu Kola does not contain caffeine.

The leaves and aerial parts of the Gotu Kola plant are used medicinally.

What does it do?

Gotu Kola has been used in traditional medicine systems for thousands of years to treat a wide variety of ailments and conditions. Gotu Kola was, and continues to be, widely used by the traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine system for both medicinal and spiritual purposes.

The traditional Indian Ayurveda medicine system used Gotu Kola medicinally to revitalize brain cells and nerves, fortify the immune system, treat skin conditions and cleanse the body of harmful toxins. For meditation purposes, Gotu Kola was used to balance the energy systems of the body and promote calmness.

Modern organized medicine uses Gotu Kola to promote a healthful sleep, to treat a wide variety of skin conditions, to eliminate water retention, to promote a healthy blood pressure and circulation, to reduce anxiety, to enhance thinking abilities and memory function, to promote alertness and wakefulness, to speed wound recovery and prevent the formation of scars.

Gotu Kola contains active saponins/triterpenoids.1 The three saponins/triterpenoids in Gotu Kola are:

  • Asiaticoside
  • Brahmoside and Brahminoside
  • Madecassoside

These active saponins/triterpenoids make Gotu Kola an effective skin treatment and wound healing agent because they exert antibiotic, diuretic and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies confirm that Gotu Kola prevents scar formation2 and accelerates wound healing3 by preventing collagen production around a wound site and stimulating the formation of new skin.

Gotu Kola is also effective in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency - a serious medical condition that's characterized by poor circulation of blood from the feet and legs back to the heart. People with this condition often suffer from frequent ulcers, heavy limbs, tight swollen muscles and aching joints. Gotu Kola is thought to support a healthy blood pressure and increase circulation throughout the body.

Who Needs It?

Healthy adults may benefit from supplementing with Gotu Kola.

Adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADD/ADHD) may benefit from using Gotu Kola because of its abilities to enhance memory, focus, and brain function while also soothing the central nervous system.

Athletes may benefit from supplementing with Gotu Kola because of its effects on energy, brain function, focus, inflammation and wound healing.

Gotu Kola is not an essential nutrient and no symptoms of deficiency exist. Recommended Daily Allowances (RDA) is not established.

How Much Should Be Taken?

Use as directed.

Consult a physician before using any dietary supplement.

Some people are allergic to Gotu Kola and should not use it. For most people however, Gotu Kola is quite safe when used as directed.4

If you have been diagnosed with, and are being treated for, ADD/ADHD or any other psychiatric/psychological condition, consult your physician prior to use.

Scientific References

  1. Kartnig T., Clinical Applications of Centella asiatica (L) Urb. In Herbs, Spices, and Medicinal Plants: Recent Advances in Botany, Horticulture, and Pharmacology, vol. 3., Craker LE, Simon JE (eds). Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1986, 145-73.
  2. Bossé JP, Papillon J, Frenette G, et al. Clinical study of a new antikeloid drug. Ann Plastic Surg, 1979; 3:13-21.
  3. Morisset R, Cote NG, Panisset JC, et al. Evaluation of the healing activity of hydrocotyle tincture in the treatment of wounds. Phytother Res 1987; 1:117-21.
  4. Murray MT. The Healing Power of Herbs. Rocklin, CA: Prima Publishing, 1995, 173-83.