Unlike the “cola” you probably grew up drinking, gotu kola tea benefits are numerous. For thousands of years, traditional Chinese healers have considered this herbal medicine a “miracle elixir of life.”
When you want to relax, the last thing you probably think about reaching for is a can of cola. But gotu kola (GK) is completely different from Coca Cola or any other cola for that matter.
The GK plant is also very different from cola nut. Whereas cola nut contains caffeine, and may be included in Coca Cola’s top-secret formula, GK won’t make you jittery. In fact, if you want something that’ll help you relax, you might want to consider gotu kola for your go-to herbal remedy.
When the plant is made into a beverage (or taken in supplement form), it might boost your health, in addition to help you relax. And research suggests gotu kola tea benefits include improving skin disorders, memory and brain function. In addition, it may help heal wounds and scars and sharpen focus.
Let’s get to know this herb some more….
What is Gotu Kola?
For thousands of years, it’s been used in traditional herbal medicine. Both in Indian and Chinese classical healing traditions, it’s been a longevity and vitality-boosting herb.
Just like walnuts and wild salmon and omega-3s are contemporary brain foods, GK has a long history of boosting mental performance. It also has a stellar reputation for relaxing the nervous system.
GK grows naturally in tropical and subtropical countries. It especially thrives in swampy areas. You can find it growing in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, as well as areas of the South pacific.
This article in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences says that in India, people use it in a similar fashion to how Chinese use ginseng. Namely, to increase both life span and energy.
Speaking of India, GK also has the name Indian pennywort. In the subcontinent, it has been listed in the ancient Indian medical text, ‘Sushruta Samhita’ for thousands of years.
In China, the herb has also been cited in ancient medicine textbooks. For at least 2,000 years in China, GK has been considered one of the “miracle elixirs of life.”
The plant itself has no taste or smell. And there are about 20 species of it.
It grows both in rice paddies as well as rocky, higher elevations. The leaves from the plant are green, small and look like a fan. When the plant flowers, it blooms with white or light purple-to-pink flowers. Medicinally, the whole plant provides therapeutic purposes.
In Chinese medicine, gotu kola tea benefits includes purifying blood as well as treating high blood pressure. Moreover, eastern healers use it to treat emotional disorders, such as depression. In the west, one of its first uses dates back to the mid-20th century. Alcohol extracts of GK back then treated leprosy.
More gotu kola tea benefits
Like most other single herbs, there’s not enough large-scale studies to outright prove any health benefits of GK. However, there is promising research.
Let’s take a look at some of the studies. These studies come from the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Research review of GK, above.
Improving mood and mental disorders
A 2008 study shows that a high dose of GK extract enhances memory. It also leads to an improvement of mood, including in people with depression.
The findings from this study suggests GK (Centella asiatica is it’s botanical name) lessens the severity of cognitive dysfunction in older people.
Another study suggests it can help ease epileptic seizures. The reason why is it increases brain activity of GABA which is a neurotransmitter (a chemical messenger) that reduces anxiety.
In the study, an extract of GK, using a dosage of 200 mg/kg body weight completely stops the convulsions. The severity of certain seizures and convulsions were reduced at an extract dose of 100 mg/kg body weight.
Consequently, the study offers some support for GK’s traditional use as a relaxation remedy.
Fights Pain & Inflammation, Protects Heart And Brain
Furthermore, this herb might help block pain signals and reduce inflammation. A study using a water extract of GK shows that it’s just as effective as aspirin. The researchers of this study conclude GK’s use in traditional healing for joint pain disorders is legitimate.
It turns out that another of the gotu kola tea benefits is protecting your heart and improving blood circulation. One study shows it prevents blood clotting. In addition, it may prevent stroke because it improves blood flow to the brain.
Good for the Gut
Like traditional bone broth, GK might help ease ulcers because it helps improve the mucosal barrier. That’s the lining around your GI tract that prevents undigested food from entering the bloodstream.
Fights Free Radicals & Protects Against Brain Disease
Free radicals are microscopic germs that can make you age prematurely. Consuming too much glutamate (you may know this salt better as ‘MSG’) may lead to an increase in your body of free radicals.
But a substance in GK protects the brain against damage from excess glutamate. Moreover, it also offers protection against one of the factors believed to be responsible for Alzheimer’s Disease.
In addition another of the gotu kola tea benefits (you can also boost health with extracts, not just the tea) for brain health is it may help prevent against Parkinson’s disease. One study suggests GK might benefit memory and cognitive function because it helps repair the neurons in the brain.
Protection against radiation
Radiation comes in many forms, from sunlight exposure, to X-rays to electronic devices and more. But GK extract, according to at least one study, may prevent radiation damage to DNA.
Unsightly varicose veins are in part caused by insufficient blood flow to the veins. Several studies show GK has a positive effect on blood flow in the veins.
Thus, it may help reduce the appearance of varicose veins.
Here’s one customer review on Amazon who takes Nature’s Way Gotu Kola:
“After reading that this helps to improve circulation which I have an issue with in my feet.
I developed an annoying and often very painful venous ulcer just above the outside of my left ankle, and for more than six weeks, it refused to heal.
After taking two of these every day with dinner though, it finally began to improve, and than, heal.
After approximately six weeks or so, it healed fully so i will continue taking this without any doubt….
It is well worth every penny to me, I highly recommend it to people who also have decreased circulation in their feet & ankles.”
Gotu kola tea benefits for skin
If this herb can help treat leprosy, perhaps it can help treat less severe skin disorders.
Traditionally, the plant helps treat wounds. Modern research explains how: it increases collagen blood vessel formation.
Collagen is the glue-like substance that’s the major component that provides structure to your skin. In addition, GK helps improve connective tissue of your skin.
Along with a DMAE supplement, GK might be your best one-two herbal combo for skin care.
How to use gotu kola
According to WebMD, there are two types of people who should not use GK. Those with liver disease and those about to have surgery.
Stop using it at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery, WebMD advises.
And if you’re already taking an anti-anxiety drug or sleeping medication, taking GK can enhance the sedative effect.
However, for most other people, taking GK is likely safe and won’t produce any side effects. Although, one review on Nature’s Way Amazon product page states,
“My doctor had recommended it to help with aging memory loss .. I got horrid gastric distress … Like talking [sic] a cleanse that I had not planned on … Bad news…at least for me.”
If you want gotu kola tea benefits, you don’t have to actually brew the plant components into a beverage. You can simply take a supplement such as a tincture or capsule.
Gotu kola dosage
If you’re going to take it in supplement form, the Nature’s Way product page lists the daily dosage as 950 mg. The serving size is two capsules.
According to WebMD, the most solid research supporting GK is for its ability to boost blood circulation. For blood flow problems in the legs, WebMD recommends 60-180 mg daily of GK extract.
That’s obviously far below the Nature’s Way daily dosage. Thus, if possible, before taking this herb, consult an herbalist or Chinese medicine expert.
“It is said to develop the crown chakra which is the energy center at the top of the head and to balance the right and left hemispheres of the brain, which the leaf is said to resemble,” says Gaia’s GK product page.
WebMD certainly wouldn’t support Gaia Herb’s claim that it can improve meditation and balance the brain. But for people across the globe, for thousands of years, perhaps it’s done just that….