By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated June 22, 2012)
Gotu kola has long been a staple of Eastern medicine, where it has been used to treat a variety of conditions. In recent years, North Americans and Europeans have developed an interest in this herb as well.
Gotu kola contains compounds called triterpene acids that bind to central nervous system receptors, reducing the startle response (an important aspect of anxiety disorders). Gotu kola also may improve circulation, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the collagen that lines vein walls, which is why it is used as a varicose vein treatment. Some people believe that gotu kola can improve memory as well (Mandile, 2002).
A few human and animal studies suggest that gotu kola may have anti-anxiety benefits (Bradwejn et al., 2000; Head & Kelly, 2009). However, there hasn’t been enough research conducted to draw any firm conclusions about this herb’s ability to reduce anxiety. In other words, gotu kola may have a calming influence, but more research would be required to prove it.
Gotu Kola Supplements
Gotu kola is available in teas, tinctures, extracts, and capsules. Side effects are uncommon and this herb should be safe for most people at appropriate doses. However, the University of Maryland Medical Center (2010) offers a number of precautions:
- Long-term gotu kola use may affect the liver, so people with liver disease and those who take medications affecting the liver should not use gotu kola.
- Those with a history of skin cancer should not take gotu kola.
- Gotu kola should not be given to children.
- Those over 65 should take a dose that is lower than the standard.
- Gotu kola may interact with certain medications.
Always consult a doctor before taking supplements to be on the safe side.
Other Natural Anxiety Remedies
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical or psychiatric advice. Medical concerns should be referred to a qualified doctor.
- University of Maryland Medical Center. (2010). “Gotu Kola.” UMM.edu.
- Bradwejn J.; Zhou, Y.; Koszycki, D.; & Shlik, J. (2000). “A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on the Effects of Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica) on Acoustic Startle Response in Healthy Subjects.” Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, 20(6), 680-684.
- Head, K.A., ND, & Kelly, G.S., ND. (2009). “Nutrients and Botanicals for Treatment of Stress: Adrenal Fatigue, Neurotransmitter Imbalance, Anxiety, and Restless Sleep.” Alternative Medicine Review, 14(2), 116-140).
- Mandile, M.N. (2002, May-June). “Gotu Kola: This Ayurvedic Herb May Reduce Your Anxiety Without the Side Effects of Drugs – Herb Brief.” Natural Health, FindArticles.com.
- NYU Langone Medical Center. (n.d.). “Gotu Kola.” Med.NYU.edu.