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Panic Disorder and Gotu Kola

Written by sshowalter, FoundHealth.

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.

Effect of Gotu Kola on Panic Disorder

Used in Ayurveda, Gotu Kola has traditionally been used to treat anxiety as is present in panic disorder.

Read more details about Gotu Kola.

Research Evidence on Gotu Kola

Because evidence suggests that easy startling is related to anxiety, researchers have attempted to test this use by measuring the acoustic startle response.12 In this double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, 40 study participants were given either gotu kola or placebo and then subjected to sudden loud noises. Researchers measured eye blinks and found a significantly reduced startle response in those treated with gotu kola. This suggests, but doesn't prove, that gotu kola may be helpful for anxiety.

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. 1 . However, one animal study hints that gotu kola might have carcinogenic effects if applied topically to the skin. 2 Although gotu kola has not been proven safe for pregnant or nursing women, studies in rabbits suggest that it does not harm fetal development, 3 and Italian physicians have given it to pregnant women. 4 Safety in young children and those with severe liver or kidney disease has not been established.


  1. Kartnig T. Clinical applications of Centella asiatica (L.). Herbs Spices Med Plants. 1988;3:145-173.
  2. Laerum OD, Iversen OH. Reticuloses and epidermal tumors in hairless mice after topical skin applications of cantharidin and asiaticoside. Cancer Res. 32(7):1463-9.
  3. Bossé JP, Papillon J, Frenette G, Dansereau J, Cadotte M, Le Lorier J. Clinical study of a new antikeloid agent. Ann Plast Surg. 3(1):13-21.
  4. Basellini A, Agus GB, Antonucci E, et al. Varices in pregnancy (an up-date) [translated from Italian]. Ann Obstet Ginecol Med Perinat. 1985;106:337-341.
  1. Bradwejn J, Zhou Y, Koszycki D, et al. A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy subjects. J Clin Psychopharmacol. 2000;20:680-684.

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