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Gotu Cola

(Centella Asiatica)

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Gotu Cola is native to the warmer regions of both hemispheres. This slender, creeping herb is especially abundant in the swampy areas of India and Sri Lanka, in South Africa, and in the tropical regions of the new world.

Other common names:

Asiatic Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Thickleaved Pennywort


 Alkaloids  Asiaticoside  Carbohydrates
 Fatty Acids  Fixed Oils  Mucilage
 Pectin  Resins  Tannic Acid
 Vellarin  Volatile Oils  

* For definition of some of the above terms see the dictionary section of this book.


 Calcium  Iron  Pangamic Acid
 Phosphorus  UFA  Vitamin B Complex
 Vitamin C    

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Diuretic - Diuretics form a class of drugs which increase the volume of urine produced by the kidneys. It can be used effectively to treat mild cases of edema when kidney function is good and when the underlying abnormality of cardiac function, capillary pressure, or salt retention is being corrected simultaneously. Diuretics are not an appropriate treatment for edema caused by inflammation of the kidneys, and are useless in cardiac edema associated with advanced kidney insufficiency.

Narcotic - an agent which depresses the function of the central nervous system, inducing sleep and lessening pain. By definition, narcotics can be toxic in excess.

Sedative - Sedatives are a class of drugs which function to quite nervous excitement and reduce motor activity without inducing sleep. They are used in the management of neuroses and in the treatment of anxiety and apprehension accompanying various disease states such as hypertension. Sedatives commonly function to induce reversible depression of the central nervous system. Examples of this class are phenobarbital, secobarbital sodium, and pentobarbital.

Tonic - an agent which strengthens or tones.

Gotu Cola is able to rebuild energy reserves. It increases mental and physical power, combats stress and improves reflexes, has an energizing effect on brain cells, and may help prevent nervous breakdown. For this reason, it is called "food for the brain." It relieves high blood pressure, mental fatigue, senility, and helps the body defend itself against various toxins. It is very rich in the B Complex vitamins, lowers blood pressure, and is an effective diuretic.

Gotu cola is often confused with foti-teng - which is actually an Oriental blend of three different herbs. The Gotu Cola herb is a single plant and has been used successfully to treat leprosy throughout southeast Asia. It has been used in hospitals and clinics in Calcutta for the treatment of syphilitic diseases, both internally and externally.

Gotu Cola contains an oily substance, a resin, an organic acid, tannin, and traces of an alkaloid. Another analysis reveals a substance called vallerine (0.8 - 1%), resin, fat (8.9%), tannin and carbohydrates (24.5%), gum and salts (11.5%), albumoid matter (12.5%), and ash (2.4%). Vallerine is a pale yellowish color with a bitter, pungent, persistent taste and odor. It has been reported to be effective in treating eye lesions and cataracts. Many people in India have ascribed mind and memory improving qualities to this herb.

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Gotu Cola has often been mistaken for another herb (Cola Nitida or Cola Acuminata) which is erroneously called Gotu Cola by those who have not done their home work. The second herb more properly should be called Kola Nut. It has caffeine (up to 3.5%), whereas true Gotu Cola has none. Where Gotu Cola is reported to have caused nervousness, insomnia, and minor trembling, or to have psychoactive substances such as caffeine, theobromine, or kolanin, these reports are actually referring to Kola Nut (Cola species) and may be considered misinformation by poorly informed persons usually speaking from prejudice and not scientific analysis.

Those with hypotension and low potassium levels may want to restrict their use of Gotu Cola.


Adrenocortical responsiveness to Gotu Cola may be impaired by the use of amphotericin.

The tannin in Gotu Cola 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 that observable interaction may occur between the many central nervous system drugs and the psychoactive principles in Gotu Cola.

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

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