In recent years, a famous herbal remedy from Asia called gotu kola has reached the West. Unfortunately, many people in the U.S. do not know about the extent of its healing properties. Its primary use in the West revolves around the herb's skin healing properties, such as its anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and insecticidal effects, but there is so much more to this plant than these. One of the most important attributes of gotu kola, which many people overlook, is its brain healing benefits.
Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a member of the parsley family that grows extensively in Asia, South Africa, and Australia. It is a staple herb in Chinese, Indonesian, and Ayurvedic medicine because of its many health benefits. In fact, there are Oriental and Sri Lankan legends that boast on how eating gotu kola extends the life of people and even animals. Traditional uses of this herbal remedy, which can be taken as food or as a tea, include treating asthma, colds, diarrhea, fever, stomach ulcers, syphilis, and hepatitis. Moreover, practitioners of traditional medicine also use this herb to treat different brain disorders.
Brain healing properties of gotu kola
There are countless studies that demonstrate the brain healing properties of gotu kola. Some of the proven neuroprotective and mental health benefits of the herb include the following:
Stimulating growth of new brain cells -- Gotu kola triggers the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). This protein is often called "brain fertilizer" since it promotes the formation of new brain cells while also maintaining old cells to keep them from dying. It works by increasing neuron branching, brain plasticity, and cell communication. In addition, gotu kola also stimulates the production of nerve growth factor (NGF), so that new nerve cells can be produced. Although these effects might take a few weeks, they are truly worth the wait.
Increasing blood flow -- For the brain to function properly, it needs a sufficient supply of nutrients and oxygen. Luckily, gotu kola can improve blood circulation so that enough of these materials get to the brain. Moreover, keeping the blood flowing is also important for the removal of waste products so that they don't build up and damage the brain.
Protecting against brain damage -- This herbal remedy is a potent neuroprotective antioxidant. It works like a typical antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals to prevent oxidative stress. But in addition to that, it can also protect the brain against harmful chemicals like lead, arsenic, aluminum, and monosodium glutamate (MSG). Many people are familiar with the latter because it's a common food additive. However, it is harmful to the brain, causing problems like brain fog, migraines, and mood swings.
Alleviating stress, anxiety, and depression -- Millions of people suffer from mental health problems like chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Fortunately, there are many herbal remedies for these disorders, including gotu kola. This herb remedies these conditions through different mechanisms. One of these is by increasing the production of brain chemicals that improve mood, namely, serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine while reducing production of the stress hormone cortisol. Another mechanism through which gotu kola improves mental health is by reducing chronic brain inflammation, which is the underlying cause of depression.
Promoting sleep -- Many people don't get enough sleep. This is unfortunate since one night of sleep deprivation can affect different brain functions to the same degree as being drunk. Many people take sleeping pills so that they can get more hours of rest. However, these medications actually cause memory loss. Gotu kola, which has been used as a natural sleep aid for years, can be used as an alternative to these harmful drugs.
Improving Alzheimer's -- Patients suffering from Alzheimer's have impaired memory and learning due to reduced levels of the brain chemical acetylcholine. Gotu kola is beneficial to these patients since they contain triterpenes that inhibit acetylcholine breakdown. Moreover, triterpenes also prevent amyloid plaques, which are signs of Alzheimer's disease, from building up in the brain.