Medicinal Uses and Indications
Venous insufficiency and varicose veins
When blood vessels lose their elasticity, blood pools in the legs and fluid leaks out of the blood vessels. That causes the legs to swell (venous insufficiency). Several small studies suggest gotu kola may help reduce swelling and improve blood flow. In a study of 94 people with venous insufficiency, those who took gotu kola saw their symptoms improve compared to those who took placebo. In another study of people with varicose veins, ultrasound tests showed that people who took gotu kola had less leakage of fluid.
One study also found that people who took gotu kola before flying had less ankle and leg swelling than those who did not take it.
Wound healing and skin lesions
Gotu kola has chemicals called triterpenoids. In animal and lab studies, these compounds seem to help heal wounds. For example, some studies suggest that triterpenoids strengthen the skin, boost antioxidants in wounds, and increase blood supply to the area. Based on these findings, gotu kola has been applied to the skin, or used topically, for minor burns, psoriasis, preventing scars after surgery, and preventing or reducing stretch marks.
You can find gotu kola in many creams for wound healing. Ask your health care provider if one is right for you.
These same chemicals, triterpenoids, seem to reduce anxiety and increase mental function in mice. One human study found that people who took gotu kola were less likely to be startled by a new noise than those who took placebo. Since the "startle noise" response can be a way to tell if someone is anxious, researchers think that gotu kola might help reduce anxiety symptoms. But the dose used in this study was very high, so it is impossible to say how gotu kola might be used to treat anxiety.
A single study of 13 women with scleroderma found that gotu kola decreased joint pain and skin hardening, and improved finger movement.
Gotu kola acts as a sedative when given to animals in tests. Because of that, it is sometimes suggested to help people with insomnia. But no human studies have been done to see whether it works or whether it is safe.