Gotu kola is an herb that has been used in traditional Asian medicine for thousands of years. This beautiful green botanical offers medicinal properties, confirmed by research, which can improve a wide range of health conditions. And now, there is supportive evidence that it can even promote the well-being of our hair follicles.
What Is Gotu Kola And What Does It Do?
Also known as Centella Asiatica, or Asiatic pennywort, Gotu Kola, “the herb of longevity” grows in Asian wetlands. It is used for culinary recipes and healing purposes, with roots in traditional Ayurvedic, Indonesian and Chinese medicine. Today, Gotu Kola is taken to help treat circulatory system disorders, venous insufficiencies (i.e. weak veins and valves), anxiety symptoms and even improve cognitive areas like memory and focus.
The medicinal properties of Gotu Kola have been attributed to constituents like saponins and triterpenoids. Extracts of this perennial herb have demonstrated defensive properties against oxidative damage in Alzheimer’s disease and other neuroprotective contexts.
In one experiment, researchers observed the antioxidant effects of Centella Asiatica in young mice . To study these dynamics, they had to first induce oxidative damage and distort mitochondrial functions in the striatum and other brain regions of these animal subjects. They achieved these effects using a neurotoxin called 3-nitroproprionic acid. Following treatment with Centella Asiatica, they noticed that the extract “completely attenuated” the induced oxidative stress. In other brain areas, it also “predominantly abolished” the oxidative stress and protein oxidation which had occurred.
In another study, not only did the Centella Asiatica neutralize the oxidative stress present, but it also increased the endogenous production of glutathione and catalase in male Wistar rats . Glutathione is a free-radical fighting antioxidant made by our bodies. Catalase is an enzyme found in all living organisms which are exposed to oxygen, protecting cells from the damage caused by reactive oxygen species as it turns hydrogen peroxide into water and oxygen.
A rather well-known experiment on Centella Asiatica and Alzheimer’s disease received wide attention from the scientific community. Researchers created a murine model of Alzheimer’s disease through a “high B-amyloid burden” resulting in plaque formations in the brain . The next step was to administer a water extract of Centella Asiatica which caused an attenuation of B-amyloid associated with abnormal behaviors in the mice. The CA also prevented new B-amyloid plaques from forming in the brain cells.
What Does Gotu Kola Do For Our Hair?
Gotu kola’s ability to neutralize oxidative stress can potentially also benefit our hair follicles as well. Researchers, for example, have found that people with androgenetic hair loss have much higher levels of oxidative damage than individuals without this condition. Everywhere throughout the body, oxidative stress caused by free radicals accelerates the aging of our cells and tissues. Our hair follicles are no exception.
Gotu Kola for Hair Loss
Another notable property of Gotu Kola is that it may also induce hair growth in dermal papilla cells . These are the cells which actively construct our hair strands. Hair loss is correlated with smaller dermal papilla cells.
Scientists tested the effects of a titrated extract of Centella Asiatica on sphere-shaped cultures of human dermal papilla cells. They found that Centella Asiatica upregulated the expression of genes associated with hair growth in the treated cells.
Researchers were excited to discover that Gotu Kola improves wound healing , a property which has been linked to the generation of new hair follicles.
Wound healing and closure depends on the production of new skin cells through a process known as re-epitheliazation. In wounds greater than 0.5 cm in diameter, new hair follicle structures develop in the middle of the newly formed epithelial layer.
Additionally, Gotu Kola extract has anti-inflammatory properties. Although hair loss is primarily determined by genetics, inflammation is a contributor. It is caused by the immune system which is designed to protect our bodies from organisms and particles which may threaten our health. But the effectiveness of these processes can vary widely across individuals. Cells of the immune system can mistake our own tissues, including hair follicle structures as target for attack, making hair loss more likely to occur.
Studies show that Gotu Kola demonstrates remarkable antioxidant properties. Also, it can influence the expression of genes responsible for hair growth. And, finally, Gotu Kola promotes wound healing epithelization which encourages the formation of brand new hair follicles. Gotu Kola, especially in the context of natural hair supportive ingredients, backed by research, serves as an indispensable ally in the journey towards vibrant hair and a thriving body.
Frequently Asked Questions – Gotu Kola for the Hair and Body
Are there any toxic effects associated with Gotu Kola for hair loss and general health? If so, what are they?
Although Gotu Kola is a natural herb, it still carries the potential for side effects, like any other medicinal product. Examples include nausea, stomach upset, drowsiness, photosensitivity, hypercholesterolemia and contact dermatitis. It’s always best to consult with your physician to provide guidance on taking any type of nutritional supplement.
What Gotu Kola benefits do supplements offer people who wish to take them?
Gotu Kola supplements are available on the market to help people achieve a general state of well-being. The herb supports a wide range of health areas such as blood circulation, mood and wound healing.
Does Gotu Kola for hair growth actually work?
In addition to the research discussed above, additional studies are needed to better understand the connection between Gotu Kola and hair growth. Based on experimental findings, it is safe to say that Gotu Kola can help protect our hair follicles from accelerated aging processes, upregulate gene expression so that our bodies can produce more hair inductive compounds and even encourage the formation of new hair follicles.
 George K Shinomol , Muralidhara, Prophylactic neuroprotective property of Centella asiatica against 3-nitropropionic acid induced oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions in brain regions of prepubertal mice, Neurotoxicology, 2008 Nov;29(6):948-57 Protective effects of Centella asiatica leaf extract on dimethylnitrosamine‑induced liver injury in rats, Mol. Med Rep , 2016 Nov;14(5):4521-4528
 Soumyanath, Amala & Zhong et.al (2012). Centella asiatica Extract Improves Behavioral Deficits in a Mouse Model of Alzheimer’s Disease: Investigation of a Possible Mechanism of Action. International journal of Alzheimer’s disease. 2012. 381974. 10.1155/2012/381974.
 Yeong Min Choi, Sungkwan An et al. Titrated extract of Centella asiatica increases hair inductive property through inhibition of STAT signaling pathway in three-dimensional spheroid cultured human dermal papilla cells, Biosci Biotechnol Biochem, 2017 Dec;81(12):2323-2329