Gotu Kola is one of the most widely used medicinal herbs in past times as well as today. The roots up to its flowers can be used for medical as well as for culinary purposes. Although it can be taken in forms of tea and tinctures, several formulations of the herb such as tablets and capsules have also been manufactured. However, before taking Gotu Kola in any form, it is very important for you to know more about it and understand its benefits and side effects.
Methods of Use
Gotu Kola is mostly taken in the form of tea. The leaves are dried under the sun for several hours before it is added to boiling or warm water. You can also add honey or sugar for sweetening. One teaspoon of dried Gotu Kola is good for one cup of water.
The herb can also be used in the form of topical ointment. However, you will need other ingredients such as Sesame oil or Chamomile oil when making Gotu kola ointment. The ointment can be used for skin irritation and it can be applied directly to the infected part of the skin or the wound.
Smoking Gotu Kola is also very common especially in the ancient times. Many individuals claim that it is more effective when smoked but this is supported by only a few scientific studies.
The Gotu Kola herb has several effects to the body when used in the form of an ointment. Studies have shown that it effectively promotes healing of wounds by increasing the production of collagen. Collagen is a type of protein mainly needed for wound healing. The herb also reduces inflammation and swelling to decrease pain sensation. A study conducted in 1966 has shown that the herb can improve healing of Episiotomy wound among women who just gave birth. Further studies on this have been conducted in the recent years.
Taking Gotu Kola as tea can also provide positive systemic effects on the body. Certain chemicals in Gotu Kola have been found to decrease pressure in the veins and promote venous blood return. In this way, venous insufficiency which leads to varicose veins can be prevented. Experts also claim that Gotu Kola is has the ability to reduce edema or the accumulation of excess fluid in the tissue compartments. This effect is proven by the herb’s effects on promoting urination.
Smoking Gotu Kola herb, according to studies, has potential effects on the nervous system. In the ancient times, the herb is smoked by individuals for its stimulating effects. It stimulates sympathetic nervous system responses and makes the person feel “high”. It has an effect in treating and preventing depression which is almost the same as that of antidepressant medications. Some studies have also shown that the herb can increase learning ability and memory of children who take it in the form of tea.
The herb can be used for several purposes. It is indicated for treatment and prevention of the following disorders:
- Psychiatric and neurologic conditions such as anxiety and depression
- Hypoactive sexual desire disorders in both sexes
- Alzheimer’s disease and dementia
- Leprosy and other skin disorders
- Chronic conditions such as Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Urinary tract infection
- Respiratory conditions such as lung pleurisy and asthma
The common side effects of the herb are expected and may disappear eventually. These include the following:
- nausea and vomiting
- stomach upset
Gotu Kola herb has certain adverse effects as well. Adverse effects are unexpected and may require a physician’s intervention. The adverse effects of Gotu Kola include the following:
- Potential liver damage when taken excessively.
- Excessive drowsiness when taken during or after a surgical procedure. This is an effect resulting from the interaction of the herb and anesthesia.
- Contact dermatitis among individuals allergic to Gotu Kola.
- Hyperglycemia or increased blood sugar levels among patients suffering from Diabetes Mellitus.
The Gotu Kola herb is generally safe when taken in safe dosage according to instructions and your doctor’s advice. It is supported by many studies and has also been listed as one of the most important species of medicinal plants by the WHO. Other uses of the herb are still being studied by experts.