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Although the name "gotu kola" may sound more like a jazzy new sports drink than a skin treatment, the truth is people have been using extracts from the gotu kola plant for centuries to promote healthy skin. Soothing symptoms of psoriasis, hydrating skin, and even reducing fine lines are other nifty achievements claimed for gotu kola. Does it live up to the buzz? While studies are ongoing, there is some clinical evidence that gotu kola just might help tone and improve your complexion while helping to banish wrinkles.
Gotu kola, scientifically known as Centella asiatica, bears no relation to the kola nut of Coca-Cola fame. Technically a member of the carrot family, gotu kola is a perennial plant that grows in wetlands in Asia and Africa. It has been used in the ancient Indian healing system known as Ayurveda -- where it is called brahmi -- to promote longevity, improve memory, and treat dermatitis, diabetes, cataracts and coughs. Today, gotu kola -- referred to as "The Fountain of Youth" in China -- pops up as an ingredient in skin toners and wrinkle creams.
Constituents and Effects
According to University of Maryland Medical Center, chemicals in gotu kola called triterpenoids offer a whole menu of benefits to your skin, not only boosting antioxidant levels and increasing blood supply to the area but possibly helping prevent scar formation and relieve stretch marks as well. Drugs.com, which provides medical information to consumers, gives gotu kola props for its anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and antioxidant abilities. Even more impressive, the website says gotu kola promotes healing of wounds, as well as relieving psoriasis.
Gotu kola has had the chance to strut its stuff in some scientific tests. In a controlled clinical study published in the 2009 issue of "The British Journal of Dermatology," researchers found that extracts from gotu kola produced significant improvements in facial wrinkles on volunteers with sun-damaged skin.
Dosage and Precautions
Gotu kola is available in powdered extract form, teas and and topical creams. Drugs.com lists 30 to 90 mg a day of a standardized extract as the usual dosage. Ask your doctor before using gotu kola, and don't take gotu kola if you have cancerous or precancerous skin lesions or liver disease, or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Side effects are rare, but may include allergic reactions and burning sensations.