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Gotu Kola
What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Gotu Kola?

Gotu kola is a creeping plant native to subtropical and tropical climates. Gotu kola has a long history of use in Ayurvedic medicine (the traditional medicine of India) to promote wound healing and slow the progress of leprosy. It was also reputed to prolong life, increase energy, and enhance sexual potency. 1 Other uses of gotu kola included treating skin diseases, anxiety, diarrhea, menstrual disorders, vaginal discharge, and venereal disease.

Based on these many traditional indications, gotu kola was accepted as a drug in France in the 1880s. British physicians in Africa used a special extract to treat leprosy.

The best-documented use of gotu kola is to treat chronic venous insufficiency , a condition closely related to varicose veins. In these conditions, blood pools in the legs, causing aching, pain, heaviness, swelling, fatigue, and unsightly visible veins. Preliminary double-blind, placebo-controlled studies indicate that gotu kola extract provides improvement in major venous insufficiency symptoms, reducing swelling, pain, fatigue, sensation of heaviness, and fluid leakage from the veins. 2 3 4 5 However, no studies have evaluated whether regular use of gotu kola can make visible varicose veins disappear, or prevent new ones from developing.

Gotu kola has also been suggested as a treatment for hemorrhoids because they are a type of varicose vein, but there is no direct...

Safety Issues

When taken orally, gotu kola seldom causes any side effects other than the occasional allergic skin rash, and safety studies suggest that it is essentially non-toxic. 6 . However, one animal study hints that gotu kola might have carcinogenic effects if applied topically to the skin. 7 Although gotu kola has not been proven safe for pregnant or nursing women, studies in rabbits suggest that it does not harm fetal development, 8 and Italian physicians have given it to pregnant women. 9 Safety in young children and those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.