Centella asiatica, also known as gotu kola, is a parsley-like plant that's native to much of southeast Asia. Gotu kola has long been a staple of both Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese Medicine and is beneficial for the circulatory system. It improves the flow of blood while strengthening the veins and capillaries. Research suggests it has a positive effect on circulatory system inefficiencies.
Why is Gotu Kola Effective?
Gotu kola contains several potent compounds but its most active are called pentacyclic triterpene derivatives.  These compounds have several beneficial mechanisms. They are known to assist capillary filtration, they have potent antioxidant action, they help reduce swelling, they help in the production of connective tissue, and they assist with angiogenesis, which is the formation of new blood vessels. 
Gotu Kola: The Research
Studies that have examined the use of gotu kola have reported that it helps stimulate circulation and provides support against arterial concerns.  The Irvine Vascular Laboratory at St. Mary's Hospital and Imperial College in London conducted a prospective, randomized study to determine if gotu kola extract was effective at improving microcirculation and edema. The six-week study included forty patients with venous hypertension; participants were split into control and placebo groups. The placebo group indicated no improvements. However, the group given gotu kola extract reported significant reductions in leg volume, leading researchers to conclude that gotu kola helps to improve microcirculation and edema associated with chronic venous hypertension. 
Gotu Kola and Chronic Venous Insufficiency
A condition known as chronic venous insufficiency occurs when veins become weak or damaged and don't carry blood back to the heart, causing blood to pool. The legs are most often affected and discomfort, itchiness, and swelling are the primary indications of CVI. When blood collects in the legs, varicose veins, sores, and even blood clots can result. Gotu kola contains two compounds, asiaticoside and madecassoside, which are believed to help strengthen blood vessels and improve the indications of CVI. A review of available information by the University of Malaya concluded that gotu kola may offer significant improvements in circulation and help to reduce the discomfort and edema associated with CVI.  Additionally, a double-blind study published by the American College of Angiology consisting of ninety-four patients stricken with venous insufficiency found that gotu kola extract helped improve edema, leg heaviness, and overall wellbeing. 
Supplementing with Gotu Kola
Chronic venous insufficiency and other circulatory ailments affect millions of people. Compression socks and pharmaceuticals are often recommended therapies, so are diet and lifestyle changes. Unfortunately, the latter two are typically met with compliance issues. Circulatory concerns are really not something to be complacent about. If they affect you, it's time to get serious about improving your situation. When circulatory concerns are the result of a sedentary lifestyle, your number one course of action should be to get active and stimulate your body. If you need supplemental support, consider using gotu kola. Gotu kola is largely thought to be safe and most side effects are limited to an upset stomach or headache. It is worth mentioning that gotu kola can make you more sensitive to the sun and increase your chance of sunburn. Additionally, gotu kola contains a compound called asiaticoside which is not recommended for persons with a history of precancerous or cancerous skin lesions. People with liver disease should also avoid gotu kola.
Have you tried gotu kola or any other herbal therapies that benefit circulatory system health? Please leave a comment below and share your experiences.
- Brinkhaus B, Lindner M, Schuppan D, Hahn EG. Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica. Phytomedicine. 2000 Oct;7(5):427-48.
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- Chong NJ, Aziz Z. A Systematic Review of the Efficacy of Centella asiatica for Improvement of the Signs and Symptoms of Chronic Venous Insufficiency. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2013;2013:627182. doi: 10.1155/2013/627182. Epub 2013 Feb 21.
- Pointel JP, Boccalon H, Cloarec M, Ledevehat C, Joubert M. Titrated extract of Centella asiatica (TECA) in the treatment of venous insufficiency of the lower limbs. Angiology. 1987 Jan;38(1 Pt 1):46-50.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.
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