Author Bio: Dr. Sanusi Umar MD is the author of this article.
Last Updated on April 5, 2021 by Dr Sanusi Umar MD
Gotu Kola is a beautiful plant that grows as a bright green plant with round-shaped leaves. It is prized in both Asian(i.e.Indonesian and Chinese) and Ayurvedic medicine as a beneficial supporter for many areas of health. Now, scientists are finding that Gotu Kola may even help promote better hair growth at the follicular level.
The Importance of Hair Follicle Health
Men and women all across the globe hope to find answers for improving the appearance of their hair and achieving better growth. However, this cannot be accomplished by addressing the hair strands alone. We have to start considering the health, functioning, and well-being of the tiny structures which produce our hair, the follicles themselves.
The scalp environment matters. We must optimize beneficial nutrients while minimizing the presence of antagonistic, “unhealthy” compounds. Here are three vital areas that we need to pay more attention to so that our hair follicles can stand a better chance of thriving in the long-term.
Reduction of DHT and TGF-B
Our bodies produce two compounds that undermine the hair growth processes of our follicles.
- DHT, a byproduct of testosterone that promotes hair follicle miniaturization in individuals with sensitive receptors for this androgen
- TGF-B, a compound produced by our derma papilla cells which causes our hair follicles to transition from the active anagen growth stage to the catagen transitional stage.
Lowered levels of DHT and TGF-B help to improve the number of hair follicles in anagen and hair growth rates.
Improved Blood Circulation to the Scalp
Our follicles depend on blood circulation to receive optimal supplies of oxygen and nutrients which support their health and longevity. Factors that promote better blood flow may enhance the functioning and vitality of our hair follicles
Neutralization of Free Radicals
Free radicals are molecules created within our bodies. They act as scavengers which cause our cells and tissues to age faster. As such, they contribute to the decline of our hair follicles. These processes lead to what is known as oxidative damage. Scientists have found that androgenic alopecia sufferers show higher-than-average markers of oxidative stress.
A healthy scalp environment for our hair follicles needs to include molecules that do the exact opposite. These are known as antioxidants which neutralize free radical molecules and lower the extent of oxidative damage.
Gotu Kola For A Healthier Body and Healthier Hair
Commonly known as the “herb of longevity,” Gotu Kola (Centella Asiatica or Asiatic Pennywort) has been used in both recipes and ancient medical healing remedies. Even today, it is used to benefit many areas of health due to the presence of saponins and triterpenoids. Its potent antioxidant properties may serve as a neuroprotectant to improve conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists have observed the antioxidant effects of Gotu Kola on mice models. They achieved this by first inducing oxidative damage in the brain regions. After treating these areas with Gotu Kola, they noticed that the oxidative stress had been completely neutralized .
In another study, the scientists noted that their extract of Centella Asiatica had not only resolved the oxidative damage present but also increased the body’s own production of glutathione and catalase . Glutathione acts as a free-radical fighting antioxidant. And catalase is an enzyme that protects our cells from oxidative stress.
In one Alzheimer’s study, researchers created amyloid plaques to replicate this brain condition, using a “high B-amyloid burden.” The Gotu Kola/ Centella Asiatica extract treatment application actually worked to reduce plaque formation and even prevent the production of new plaques in the brain 
Why Consider Gotu Kola For Our Hair?
Gotu Kola’s antioxidant properties can benefit many areas of our bodies. This, of course, includes our hair follicles which are also subject to the ravages incurred by oxidative stress.
With its ability to neutralize free radicals, Gotu Kola may be able to help improve and manage the hair-loss symptoms of common, genetic baldness.
Gotu Kola And Derma Papilla Cells
One notable study showed that Gotu Kola upregulated the genetic expression of hair growth proteins in derma papilla cells . DP cells are located at the base of our hair follicles which produce our hairs’ growth. Small derma papilla cells have been associated with hair loss.
Additionally, this same group of researchers also found that Centella Asiatica also improves the healing of wounds through the production of new collagen. The formation of this protein fiber is necessary for creating new hair follicles.
Gotu Kola As An Anti-Inflammatory Agent
In one well-received scientific review, researchers ascribed the widely used therapeutic properties of Gotu Kola to a number of mechanisms in the body, including its anti-inflammatory role 
Although hair loss is often ascribed to factors like DHT and nutrition, most people do not realize that inflammation is also a significant contributor. Not everyone’s immune system is equally proficient at telling the difference between our own cells and tissues versus a foreign threat (e.g. microbes, other substances, etc.). Thus inflammatory processes may damage our hair follicles and their ability to produce new hair shafts. Hair loss may then result.
The anti-inflammatory capabilities of Gotu Kola may help protect hair follicles against shedding which may result from inflammation.
The Antioxidant Effects of Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola has been found by researchers to be a potent source of antioxidant compounds . Scientists believe that this is due to high concentrations of phenolic compounds, such as flavenoids. These bioactives may even be used as templates for creating new drugs and used as antioxidant raw material to benefit humans.
Topical and Oral Uses of Gotu Kola
With Gotu Kola’s amazing healing capabilities, it is no wonder that its extracts are now being used as ingredients in health and beauty products. Topical preparations of this herbal offer a more direct route to the skin and hair follicles. Some men and women may prefer this as a better alternative compared to oral ingestion.
On the other hand, however, oral supplementation provides the advantage of being able to holistically affect and benefit our overall system, including multiple targets.
Does Gotu Kola Have Side Effects?
As a natural herbal, Gotu Kola is regarded as generally safe. However, when taken orally on an ongoing basis, individuals should take into account a possible limit restriction of about 12 months.
Since Gotu Kola does exert cellular changes within our bodies, it should be regarded with comparable caution as drug medications. The potential for undesired side effects should still be considered with caution. A few examples include:
- stomach upsets
- liver problems
Topical Gotu Kola is also regarded as safe. However, it may incur itchiness and redness on skin in certain individuals, or when used in excess, especially after consistent use, exceeding 10 weeks.
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.
An Amazing DIY Gotu Kola Dish That Will Uplift Your Mind And Body
In Sri Lanka, a country often referred to as the “pearl of the Indian Ocean,” a traditional colorful salad dish known as Sambola is made using chopped Gotu Kola instead of lettuce or spinach. It is usually prepared with:
- lemon juice
In addition to salads, Gotu Kola leaves, which are both flavorful and pleasing to the eye can also be used for
- tea infusions
- green smoothies
The experience of preparing Sambola and other Gotu Kola recipes is an excellent way to bring the beauty and lore of this exotic herb to your kitchen.
Gotu Kola in Beauty Products
Due to its high concentration of natural, plant-based antioxidant compounds, more and more beauty brands are including Gotu Kola in their ingredient formulation. Here are just a few examples.
Coola – a sprayable hair mist and scalp treatment
- formulated to repair dry, damaged hair
- protects strands from the harm caused by UV rays
- preserves color-treated hair
Biossance Squalene and Tea Tree Detox Mask
- recipient of the “Clean at Sephora” badge
- moisturizes the face while drawing out impurities
- designed for those concerned about blemishes, redness and pores
UGro Gashee Hair Lotion, Pomade, and Oral Supplements
- neutralizes free radicals for healthier hair follicles
- nourishes the hair and scalp environment for improved hair growth and quality
- moisturizes the hair strands
- supports healthier hair production processes
Gotu Kola’s Overall Safety Ratings
Gotu Kola has earned the highest possible safety rating of 1, from the EWG (Environmental Working Group). This natural ingredient has also been assigned a risk-factor rating of bright green, the absolute lowest risk category in their color-coded scale, with red being the highest, yellow (high), light green (low).
Although regarded as generally safe, Gotu Kola may incur unwanted side effects, when taken orally or applied topically to the skin. According to WebMD, Gotu Kola is “possibly safe” for most men and women when ingested orally for up to and including 12 months. Some individuals, however, may experience stomach issues, nausea, and liver problems. The site also regards it as being “possibly safe” when applied topically for up to 10 months for most people. Though side effects are rare, Gotu Kola may result in redness and itchiness on the skin.
Gotu Kola is contraindicated for individuals who meet the following health criteria:
- under the age of 18
- have a history of skin cancer, hepatitis, or another liver disease
- currently pregnant or breastfeeding
As with any type of supplement, it is always best to seek the advice and recommendations of your physician who would be able to make recommendations specifically for your personal health profile.
Gotu Kola for Your Hair and Health
Gotu Kola is a plant-based ingredient that is effective for topical intake  as well as oral. Its whole-plant extract contains components that benefit our bodies and hair follicles across multiple areas. As a powerful antioxidant, it has been shown to neutralize oxidative stress. It also works to counter inflammatory processes which compromise the health of our follicles. And finally, scientists are excited to learn about its potential to upregulate desired gene expression which supports both our hair and overall well-being.
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