Gotu kola (Centella asiatica) is a water loving shrub that grows mostly in tropical and subtropical regions. It has been used historically in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine as a general tonic for health. The use of gotu kola as a general tonic stems from its wide range of pharmacological activities that it shows in humans and animals. These include antioxidant, antiinflammatory, wound healing, antinociceptive and antiepileptic properties. In addition, gotu kola shows some interesting central nervous system properties that include the ability to increase cognitive ability and mood enhancing effects. With regard the latter, gotu kola has been investigated for its ability to decrease the severity of the symptoms in the generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) in humans. The generalised anxiety disorder is a condition that is characterised by a constant low level of anxiety that can significantly impair the quality of the life of the sufferer. The mood enhancing effect of gotu kola may stem from its ability to alter neurotransmitter levels in the brain.
Researchers have investigated the anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects of gotu kola in humans. In one study a group of individuals were assessed for their levels of anxiety and depression using Hamilton’s Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale. The subjects were subsequently administered 500 mg of gotu kola herb twice per day. The subjects were then assessed for their levels of anxiety and depression using the same Hamilton scale at day 30 and day 60. The results of the study showed that the supplements of gotu kola significantly reduced the severity of the anxiety experienced by the subjects. In addition, the gotu kola also significantly reduced the stress experienced by the subjects, and the depression that accompanied this stress. Following the consumption of gotu kola the subjects also showed a higher willingness for adjustment to their condition, and the herb also improved cognition. This study supports the role of gotu kola as a general mental tonic, and supports the traditional use of the herb from Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine.
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