Gotu kola (Centella asiatica)
Gotu kola is herb that has been used as a traditional African medicine, Ayurvedic medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. It is a small Angisosperm plant of the family Mackinlayaceae and is native to many places in Asia like China, Malaysia, India and Sri Lanka. It has also been in existence in Africa alike Papua New Guinea and Australia for a long period of time. The variety of places in which Gotu kola is found has resulted in very many names.
The plant Gotu kola typically grows in swampy areas in the tropical regions with creeping stems that intertwine not only with each other but also with the other plants. The stems are reddish to green in color and bear leaves with uniform textures. The roots of Gotu kola are essentially rhizomes which grow vertically down.
Gotu kola has been used in the treatment of anxiety and is a potential anxiolytic agent in the future. There are very many chemical components of Gotu kola which make it usable as: a diuretic, a circulatory system stimulant, a cerebral tonic, a vulnerary, a nervine, an anxiolytic, antulcerogenic, antie-inflammatory, antiviral & antibacterial and a mild adaptogen.
The tisanes from the leaves of Gotu kola have been used as a stimulant for the afternoon. Extracts of Gotu Kola when consumed can revitalize the central nervous system especially the brain which is known tor increase concentration and the attention span. The axiolytic and anti-stress properties of the gamma aminbtyric acid, GABA that it contains are responsible gfor the effects on the brain. A decoction of Gotu kola extracts, especially from the leaves relives hypertension. Open sores, skin ailments and rashes can also be treated using a poultice made from the leaves. Traditionally, it was used tor heal leprosy patients.
Gotu kola has been used as an ingredient in beauty products to stimulate growth of hair and nails. This is because it increases vascularisation of the connective tissues. This property also helps in the treatment of varicose veins. This is because it will enhance blood flow and increase the tone of the sheath found in veins, maintaining veins supple. The tensile strength of the skin also improves with use of Gotu Kola.
Dosage and Administration
The dosage for Gotu kola extracts varies with the type and the manner in which it will be used. For oral usage, the leaves can be used fresh or dried. Half a cup of fresh or 2 tablespoonfuls of ground and dried Gotu kola is steeped in water and half a cup is consumed in a day.
However, the most common way of using Gotu kola in the modern times is as an additive to toiletries or creams that are used on the skin. The commom products that have Gotu kola extracts include healing creams, aftershave balms, day and night creams, hand and body lotions, stretch mark gels, herbal cellulite gels, eye gels, herbal muscle and joint balm, herbal mud face mask, herbal face bars, apple cider vinegar with centella, and vuka nkuzi, the male herbal sexual supplement.
All parts of Gotu kola can be used for medicinal purposes. The main parts that are used for medicinal purposes are the shoots ands the leaves.
There are other food and nutritious benefits of Gotu kola. The leaves of the herb can be edible. The leaves can be cooked or consumed raw in salads and curries. Gotu kola can also be cooked and used as a vegetable. When used in small quantities, it has an aromatic taste that can make salads overpowering as ingredients in the food.
The nutritious nature of Gotu kola is due to madasiatic acids, madecassoside and saponins or triterines like the asiaticoside. These chemical components aid in the formulation of collagen in the bones, connective tissue and cartilage. The substances, especially collagen, will work to promote healthy blood vessels strengthening their linings and the walls which lead to an improvement in the blood flow.
There are no known sides effects of Gotu kola with the common usage save for pregnant and lactating mothers. There are cases of dermatitis that have been reported and it is always safe to consult a doctor or herbalist.
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