(NaturalHealth365) For many centuries, gotu kola has been a mainstay of both the Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) healing systems. Botanically known as Centella asiatica, and also referred to as Asiatic pennywort, this member of the parsley family has been used in TCM to treat kidney failure and malaria, as well as a variety of skin conditions – including leprosy. In Ayurveda,, where it is known as brahmi, gotu kola is prescribed for similar purposes.
But, gotu kola may also have potent psychological and mental benefits, such as the power to improve cognitive abilities, reduce anxiety and enhance longevity.
Gotu kola is revered, by natural healers, as the ‘fountain of life’
Research has demonstrated that gotu kola’s powerful antioxidant effects can help protect brain cells from free radical-induced cell death. As we speak, researchers are studying its potential for the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
In a study published in 2008 in Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 28 healthy participants were given various doses of gotu kola daily for two months. When cognition and mood were assessed, researchers found that those taking a daily dose of 750 mgs experienced improvements in both areas.
The team noted gotu kola’s ability to alleviate age-related decline in cognitive function and mood in the healthy elderly. Naturally, as most researchers will do, they called for further study to explore the mechanism by which this herb works.
Gotu kola has proven anxiety-reducing effects
Researchers have long been aware that gotu kola has been used for centuries in Traditional Chinese Medicine to treat symptoms of depression and anxiety; now, medical studies are confirming the herb’s efficacy.
No less a conventional medical authority than the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) cites a study in which two 500-milligram doses of gotu kola, a day, over two months significantly reduced anxiety in human volunteers. A testament to gotu kola’s sedative and calming effects is the fact that UMMC warns against combining gotu kola with any other herbal or prescription sedatives.
In a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical study published in 2000 in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers found that a single 12-gram dose of gotu kola significantly reduced the startle response – a classic indicator of anxiety – 30 and 60 minutes later. They credited it with anti-anxiety effects and called for further study to examine the herb’s application in treating anxiety syndromes.
How does gotu kola calm the nervous system?
Researchers are finding that gotu kola reduces anxiety by its action of binding to the cholecystokinin receptors. UMMC reports that two of gotu kola’s compounds, brahmoside and brahminoside, have sedative effects.
It’s worth mentioning that gotu kola is unrelated to the kola nut – which contains anxiety-provoking caffeine.
What is the best way to consume gotu kola?
Gotu kola is available as dried leaves to be brewed as a tea. It can also be found in capsule and tablet form; the standard dosage is 1,000 – 4,000 mg, three times a day. You can also take it in the form of an extract standardized to 40 percent asiaticoside, 29 – 30% asiatic acid, 29 – 30% madecassic acid, and 1 – 2% madecassoside. The usual dosage of the extract is 90 to 120 mg.
As with any substance – an allergic reaction is possible. Generally speaking, herbs are safe – but they are powerful substances. If you suffer from depression or any form of anxiety – it would be best to work with an experienced herbalist. When it comes to herbs – we all have individual needs – educate yourself and experience the difference herbs can make in your life.
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