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Gotu Kola

Gotu Kola

Botanical Description & Habitat

Centella asiatica


Common names
Asiatic pennywort
Indian pennywort
Thick-leaved pennywort

Native to the warmer regions of both hemispheres. Especially abundant in the swampy areas of India and Sri Lanka, in South Africa, and in the tropical regions of the new world.

A slender, creeping herb

Medicinal parts
Aerial parts - dried

Historical Properties & Uses

Gotu kola, a traditional blood purifier, tonic, and diuretic, originated in Pakistan, Malaysia, and parts of Central Europe. It is commonly used for diseases of the skin, blood, and nervous system. Gotu kola contains asiaticoside, which is used in the Far East to treat leprosy and tuberculosis.

A cream made from the leaves has been successful against psoriasis.

Gotu kola's tonic and antifatigue properties have been investigated and verified to some degree. Its alterative properties are frequently utilized in homeopathy to treat leprosy, syphilis, psoriasis, cervicitis, vaginitis, and blisters.

Recent studies show anti-tumor effect in vitro.

It has also demonstrated antifertility effects in mice.

Method of Action

In India, the herb is being investigated for its potential benefit in treating leprosy and tuberculosis. Asiaticoside, a primary component of gotu kola is an antibiotic, and may be effective against the organisms that cause leprosy and tuberculosis.

Gotu kola has been shown to spermicidal against the sperm of laboratory rats, but not against human sperm.

Gotu kola was studied in conjunction with capsicum and ginseng on various indices of activity and fatigue. In these experiments it was found to contribute to enhanced activity levels and to the ability to overcome fatigue. Although the effects of capsicum were separated from those of the other two herbs, the experimental design did not allow for quantifying ginseng and gotu kola`s individual contribution.

Gotu kola is not to be confused with cola acuminata, which contains considerable amounts of caffeine. JAMA, a few years back, published an article which failed to adequately distinguish between these two species. The resulting confusion is still with us.

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Adrenocortical responsiveness to gotu kola may be impaired by the use of amphotericin B.

The tannin in gotu kola may potentiate the antibiotic activity of echinacea. The tannin in tea made from the herb may be inactivated by the addition of milk or cream.

In the absence of other hard data, it may still be assumed observable interactions may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in gotu kola.

There is evidence which shows combining bactericidal and bacteriostatic agents will lower the effectiveness of the bacteriostatic agent. How this finding applies to herbal anti-infectives is still unknown.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Gotu Kola has no known toxicity.

However, contact dermatitis has been reported in some patients handling fresh or dried parts of the plant. (Eun, 1985)

Preparation & Administration

There is presently insufficient data on this subject.



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Mowrey, Daniel B. Capsicum, ginseng and gotu kola in combination. The Herbalist, Premier issue, 22-28, 1975.

Mowrey, Daniel B. The effects of capsicum, gotu kola and ginseng on activity: further evidence. The Herbalist, 1(1), 51-54, 1976.

Scientific Committee, British Herbal Pharmocopaeia, British Herbal Med Assoc, Lane House, Cowling, Na Keighley, West Yorks, Bd Bd220lx, l983

Setty, B.S., et. al. Spermicidal potential of saponins isolated from Indian medicinal plants. Contraception, 14, 571, 1976.

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Centella asiatica

? Southwest School of Botanical Medicine


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