Gotu Kola


Gotu Kola Introduction

Gotu kola is also known as Indian Pennywort. It is a low growing perennial that is native to tropical and subtropical areas of the world, particularly in India and Indonesia. It is characterized by its brilliantly green, fan shaped leaves and grows to an average height of 20 inches. The aerial parts of the plant are harvested and used for medicinal purposes. Although Gotu kola can be cultivated under controlled conditions, the majority of commercial products continue to be harvested from wild plants. [1]

Gotu kola has traditional uses in both Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, dating back thousands of years. In Chinese medicine it was a common remedy for asthma, bronchitis, heart problems, dysentery, epilepsy, insomnia, jaundice, conditions of the eyes, diarrhea, urination problems, inflammation, high blood pressure, and exhaustion. Ayurvedic applications include uses as a tonic to rejuvenate the body and mind, for skin disease, rheumatism, mental illness, and memory enhancer. [2]

Today, Gotu kola is used primarily in the treatment of conditions relating to wound repair and skin health. It is also widely used for conditions with poor venous tone or poor circulation. It is considered a potent antioxidant and anticonvulsant; as well as an anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immunomodulatory, and anti-rheumatic agent.

The main constituents that lend Gotu kola its medicinal activity are the triterpenoid saponins, alkaloids, and bitters. [3] The most well known constituent is the triterpenoid saponin, asiaticoside. Asiaticoside is believed to be responsible for Gotu kola’s wound healing, venous tone, and circulatory actions. Another constituent, asiatic acid, has been shown to exhibit anti-cancer effects in several in vitro studies. [4] Gotu kola is also high in flavonoids. This may offer an explanation concerning its significant antioxidant activity.

Gotu Kola Food Sources

Parts Used

The aerial parts, or those above ground, are used for the medicinal action of Gotu kola. Preparations are used fresh or dried, and may also be obtained in supplemental forms.


Gotu kola improves wound healing. The constituent asiaticoside promotes the proliferation of fibroblasts and synthesis of collagen. [5] This action has been shown to positively affect any wound, dramatically increasing soft- tissue healing times. Gotu kola is equally helpful in decreasing scar formation, and to improve stretch marks.

In high doses, Gotu kola may actually decrease the activity of collagen and be helpful for disease such as scleroderma; which is characterized by an abnormality of collagen synthesis caused by an autoimmune disorder. [5]

  • Gotu kola’s ability to improve wound healing has shown promise in the treatment of stomach ulcers. In animal studies, Gotu kola has shown a dose- dependent relationship in the reduction of the size of ulcers. The administration of Gotu kola may even help prevent the formation of new ulcers. [6]
  • Gotu kola has shown immunomodulating effects in various clinical applications. Constituents of this plant have been shown to increase white blood cell counts; especially modifying immune cells that are the first line of defense against invading bacterium. [7] This action may make Gotu kola an effective adjunctive treatment for infections of the mucous membranes, including upper respiratory infections, infectious diarrhea, and certain skin infections.
  • Gotu kola may be an important therapeutic intervention for anxiety. Because it yields certain sedative properties, Gotu kola was employed for mental disorders by traditional Indian herbalists. In one particular study conducted upon healthy adults, Gotu kola significantly reduced anxiety-related symptoms, as measured by the acoustic startle response. [8] Further studies in individuals who suffer from anxiety are warranted to determine the full potential value of Gotu kola in anxiety.
  • Gotu kola may improve learning and memory. Traditionally, Ayurvedic doctors used it to increase intelligence. In animal models, certain constituent extracted from Gotu kola have been proven to increase the speed of learning. [9] This effect was thought to be mediated via antioxidant activity in the brain.
  • Gotu kola is an effective treatment for disorders of the venous system. In study, Gotu kola has been proven to reduce symptoms of heaviness and pain associated with increased capillary permeability. [10] It may also reduce edema due to capillary fragility from venous hypertension and diabetic causes. [11]
  • Gotu kola has also been shown to improve stability of plaques that form on the inside of vessel walls, thereby reducing the chance of embolism; an event that can cause serious consequences such as heart attack and stroke. [12] It is an effective treatment for individuals who suffer from phlebitis, or inflammation of the veins, as well as those prone to blood clot formation.
  • Gotu kola may be an effective treatment for cancer. It has shown some anti-cancer effects against certain cancers, including melanoma, uterine, and gastric cancer in vitro. [13] More studies are needed to determine the extent of Gotu kola’s effects on cancer cells in the human body.

Gotu Kola Dosages

The usual dose of Gotu kola is 100 - 200 milligrams (mg) per day. Most supplements will offer standardized products, usually 10 - 30% asiaticosides. Gotu kola can also be taken as an infusion (tea) at a dosage of 1 - 4 grams daily. In tincture form, it can be taken at dosages from 5 to 10 ml of a 1:4 tincture, 2 - 3 times per day.

Gotu Kola Toxicities and Contraindications

High doses of Gotu kola can cause nausea, sedation, or a skin rash. [14] There have been reports of photosensitivity developing after ingestion of the herb, although this reaction is considered extremely rare. [15]

  • Gotu kola is contraindicated in pregnant and nursing women due to the lack of research in these populations.
  • Gotu kola may cause infertility, and should not be taken by women who are attempting to become pregnant. [16]
  • Gotu kola may reduce the cardiac toxicity caused by Adriamycin, a chemotherapeutic drug. [17]


1. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 78.

2. Gotu Kola. February 2005.

3. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 78.

4. Park BC, Bosire KO, Lee ES, Lee YS, Kim JA. Asiatic acid induces apoptosis in SK-MEL-2 human melanoma cells. Cancer Lett. 2005 Jan 31; 218(1): 81-90.

5. Lu L, Ying K, Wei S, Fang Y, Liu Y, Lin H, Ma L, Mao Y. Asiaticoside induction for cell cycle progression, proliferation, and collagen synthesis in human dermal fibroblasts. Int J Dermatol. 2004 Nov; 43(11): 801-807.

6. Cheng CL, Guo JS, Luk J, Kou MW. The healing effects of Centella asiatica and asiaticoside on acetic acid induced gastric ulcers in rats. Life Sci. 2004 Mar 19; 74(18): 2237-2249.

7. Jayathirtha MG, Mishra SH. Preliminary immunomodulatory activities of methanol extracts of Eclipta alba and Centella asiatica. Phytomedicine. 2004; 11(4): 361-365.

8. Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, Shik J. A double blind placebo controlled study of the effects of Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000 Dec; 20(6): 680-684.

9. Veerendra Kumar MH, Gupta YK. Effect of different extracts of Centella asiatica on cognition and markers of oxidative stress in rats. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002 Feb; 79(2):253-260.

10. DeSanctis MT et al. Treatment of edema and capillary fragility in venous hypertension with total triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica: a clinical prospective placebo controlled randomized dose ranging trial. Angiology. 2001 Oct; 52(Suppl2); S55-59.

11. Cesarone MR et al. Evaluation of treatment of diabetic microangiopathy with total triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica: a clinical prospective randomized trial with microcirculatory model. Angiology. 2001 Oct; 52(Suppl2): S49-54.

12. Incandela L et al. Modification of the echogenicity of femoral plaques after treatment with total triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica: a prospective randomized placebo controlled trial. Angiology. 2001 Oct; 52(Suppl2): S69-73.

13. Yoshida M et al. Anti-proliferative constituents from Umbelliferae plants VII. Active triterpenes and rosmarinic acid from Centella asiatica. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005 Jan; 28(1): 173-175.

14. Gotu Kola. February 2005.

15. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 78.

16. Chevallier A. Encyclopedia of Herbal Medicine, 2nd Ed.; 2000. Dorling Kindersley, New York: 78.

17. Gnanapragasam A et al. Protective effect of Centella asiatica on antioxidant tissue defense system against adriamycin induced cardiomyopathy in rats. Life Sci. 2004 Dec 17; 76(5): 585-597.


Gotu Kola Extract (Centella
asiatica) (herb) Products