Thursday, May 31, 2012

Daily Herb-o-Scope - Gotu Kola to revitalize the body and mind

             Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) is a plant that yields from tropical Africa, eastern Asia and Australia. The herb and leaves have a bitter sweet flavor and are cool and dry. Its name causes some confusion because it isn’t related to kola and it does not contain caffeine. This fairly unknown herb has benefits that are far reaching, helping to revitalize the body and the mind.

             Gout kola’s action on the body is impressive. Its vulnerary (wound healing) properties help to speed healing by stimulating collagen production and discouraging the formation of scar tissue. Gotu kola can help wound healing when applied both topically and taken internally and the wounds are not restricted to the outside of the body either. A tea made from gotu kola has been shown to be helpful in the healing of gastric ulcers. Gotu kola also helps resolve some skin issues indirectly by purifying the blood. Symptoms of metabolic toxicosis including rashes and reoccurring boils may get worse when first using gotu kola but soon you will see resolution. This connective tissue restorative can also help with cellulite. In addition, guto kola is venous decongestant and restorative making it helpful for varicose veins, spider veins, hemorrhoids and heavy periods with downward bearing pressure.

            This herb’s action on the mind is also noteworthy. In India, yogis use gotu kola to help them meditate. This herb helps them to increase the energy of the crown chakra and increases the movement of energy between the two hemispheres of the brain. Gotu kola has also shown to be a restorative to the central nervous system, the adrenal cortex and the immune system and has shown to be helpful with depression, anxiety and other stress related conditions. In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is known as Ji Xue Cao and is used for Kidney Essence Deficiency which is a loss of vitality and paints a symptom picture of fatigue, depression, poor memory and early graying of hair. Overall it seems to be a very helpful brain and vitality builder.

In China there is a story of the oldest man who lived to be 256 years old. He ate gotu kola leaves every day and felt that this plant contained an essential nutrient not discovered by modern medicine yet. This man is not recognized by the World Health Organization, but it doesn’t mean that this story is completely false. Gotu kola is said to combat premature aging. Elephants like to eat these leaves and look how long they live. There is also a saying about gotu kola: “two leaves a day will keep old age away.”

James Duke PhD suggests 1-2 tsp of dried herb in 1 cup of hot water 3 times a day and Peter Holmes suggests 2-5ml of tincture at 1:3 (grams of herb to ml of menstrum) strength in 45% etoh.

But gotu kola has some draw backs. In large doses it can cause headaches, itchiness, dizziness and vertigo. Children, pregnant or nursing women and individuals with an overactive thyroid should not take gotu kola. Some suggest that taking gotu kola may interact with pharmaceuticals treating depression, high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

Overall gotu kola is a wonderful herb with wonderful benefits.

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