Gotu kola is a lowgrowing herb in the parsley family native to tropical Asia, where it is grown commercially. It also grows in Hawaii and other tropical regions.
In India, the ancient tradition of Ayurveda regards gotu kola as an important rejuvenating herb, especially for nerve and brain cells. It is prescribed to increase intelligence, longevity, and memory while retarding senility and aging. A leaf tea is used as a wash for skin diseases, inflammation, and swelling. In Chinese folk medicine, the leaf tea is used for colds, lung and urinary tract infections, and externally for snakebite, injuries, and shingles.
The notion that gotu kola promotes intelligence led to a number of studies of its effect on the central nervous system. Preliminary results showed it can be beneficial in improving memory and may also help overcome stress and fatigue. Two older Indian studies reported that it helped improve intelligence, general mental abilities, and behavior in mentally retarded children.
A later study examined how the herb affected brain neurotransmitters in laboratory rats. For two weeks, some rats were given an extract of fresh gotu kola leaves. They scored three to sixty times better than untreated rats in tests of learning and memory. A decrease of neurotransmitters was correlated with their improved learning and memory.
Other experiments indicate that gotu kola acts as a mild depressant on the central nervous system. Topically, it relieves- inflammation, strengthens tissue at wound sites, and helps rebuild damaged skin tissue. In one clinical study of a topical preparation of gotu kola, thirteen of twenty patients with poorly healing wounds experienced complete, accelerated healing.
Gotu kola is available in the American market as dried cut-and-sifted or powdered herb in tea, capsules, tablets, and tinctures. Salves and ointments, standardized to asiaticoside, are available in other countries to treat wounds.
Cuts and abrasions
Reported improvement of memory