Known as the ‘herb of enlightenment’, Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) has long been used as a cognitive enhancer in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, and modern studies have confirmed its protective and growth effects on brain cells.
Gotu Kola promotes regeneration of the brain by activating the release of BDNF (Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor), a hormone that triggers the growth of new neurons. It also increases neuroplasticity and communication between neurons by stimulating dendrite branching. This effect is similar to that of Bacopa Monnieri, which is often paired Gotu Kola in traditional preparations. Gotu Kola’s ability to create and strengthen connections between nerve cells has been observed in several regions of the brain including the hippocampus, the first region of the brain to be affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Studies have demonstrated that Gotu Kola is most effective in enhancing brain function when taken regularly over the long term.
Gotu Kola also protects the brain in several ways from the stresses of modern living. It has been shown to protect neurons from toxins such as aluminum and monosodium glutamate (a common food additive), as well as to decrease brain levels of beta-amyloid, the signature protein of Alzheimer’s disease. In trials using MPTP, a neurotoxin that mimics early phase Parkinson’s disease, Gotu Kola slowed the death of brain cells and improved mobility. Gotu Kola also exerts antioxidant effects in the brain by increasing the production of BDNF and glutathione, the most powerful detoxification compound naturally produced in the body.
Gotu Kola increases the release of anti-inflammatory signaling molecules by immune cells and suppresses the activation of the NF-kB pathway, your body’s ‘on’ switch for inflammation. These mechanisms are thought to underlie Gotu Kola’s ability to soothe arthritis symptoms as well as external manifestations of inflammation like eczema.
Circulation & Skin
Traditionally, Gotu Kola has been consumed both internally and used topically for the purpose of wound regeneration. Similar to how it encourages the growth of new brain cells, it helps maintain the skin by inhibiting a group of enzymes that break down collagen while simultanously increasing the rate that collagen is synthesized. Gotu Kola’s ability to improve blood flow also contributes to keeping body tissues healthy and young.