Gotu Kola – An Aphrodisiac for Men

Cultures across the world believe that some substances possess the capacity to stimulate sexual desire among humans. Usually foods and herbs but sometimes even animal parts, these substances may work by influencing the action of sex hormones in the body or treating physiological disorders which may have been hampering sexual pleasure. Gotu kola is one such herb which has a long history of aphrodisiacal and medicinal use in parts of South Asia.

What is Gotu kola

This a slender creeping plant of the Apiaceae family whose botanical name is Centella asiatica. It is native to the swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and South Africa but is now grown in the tropical regions of Australia, South America and even south eastern United States. It is commonly known as Indian pennywort, spadeleaf and Asian pennywort.

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Gotu kola as an aphrodisiac

The key to use of gotu kola as an aphrodisiac may lie in the herb’s beneficial effect on the circulatory system of the body. An active chemical component in gotu kola known as triterpenoid saponis is known to decrease venous pressure and treat venous insufficiency besides strengthening blood vessels and capillaries. This may contribute to improved extra-peripheral circulation in the body which is essential for taking oxygen-rich blood to the sex organs and thus attaining  and maintaining erection among men. In this way use of gotu kola may help to boost the male libido and enhance sexual pleasure.

In certain traditional cultures of South Asia, gotu kola has been known to promote longevity and preserve vitality among men. In Sri Lanka, this belief probably originated with the practice of elephants consuming leaves of the gotu kola plant. And since elephants are well known for their longevity, it is likely that this led to the belief in gotu kola’s ability to promote long life and keep the effects of aging at bay. Herbs associated with longevity are generally believed to promote vigor and vitality too. In this way anything which helps the body to get over the ravages of time and keep it fit and ready for amorous action can be said to work like an aphrodisiac.

Certain evidence from modern studies shows that gotu kola may have mild sedative properties. While this may seem to work against stimulating sexual desire, a sedative effect can be helpful in treating nervous disorders, mild depression and stress. People suffering from these mental conditions or from performance anxiety in a sexual situation are unlikely to enjoy sex. So by calming the nerves and easing stress, gotu kola may in fact help to create the right frame of mind for sexual pleasure.

Some studies have shown that use of gotu kola leaves can be helpful in treating a variety of wounds like abscesses and ulcers. This may be due to the fact that the herb contains certain compounds known as Asiatocide and madecassoside which have anti-inflammatory properties and promote wound healing by stimulating collagen glycosaminoglycan synthesis. Among other aliments traditionally believed to be cured or at least controlled by the herb are fevers, rheumatism, skin eruptions, leprosy and jaundice. Moreover , increasing number of studies on the effect of gotu kola in areas of memory enhancement, learning ability, attention span and concentration as well as treatment of memory degeneration among the elderly have yielded positive results. This may again be the result of improved blood circulation brought on by use of gotu kola. As higher amounts of oxygen-rich blood reach the brain helped by a strong circulatory system, the areas of the brain related to cognition, concentration and memory are able to function better.

Using gotu kola

Fresh gotu kola leaves can be consumed raw in salads or added to many dishes, as is the practice in Sri Lankan cuisine. However to get most of its medicinal benefits, it is best to use the leaves in dried form. Extracts of dried gotu leaves are commercially available in form of capsules at herbal stores or online retailers.

If used as a general tonic, dosage of gotu kola for adults may range from 1.5 to 4 grams per day. When taking as treatment for venous insufficiency and wound healing, the standard dosage is usually 30 to 90 grams of gotu kola extract per day in divided doses. Some studies on the effect of the herb on wound healing include topical application of a hydrogel containing a titrated extract of Centella asiatica or gotu kola.

Possible side effects of using gotu kola

If taken more than the recommended limit, gotu kola can cause headaches, dizziness and confusion. With external use of the herb, some individuals may experience skin irritation or even develop contact dermatitis. There have also been three known cases of hepatotoxicity among patients using the herb for 20 to 60 days.

Pregnant women should avoid using gotu kola since it may act as an emmenagogue or a substance which stimulates menstrual flow. Since there have been very few documented studies on the safety of the herb in cases of pregnancy and lactation, women in these conditions are best advised to avoid the herb.

Herbalists recommend that as in the case of any other potent herb, use of gotu kola should be avoided for extended period of time. People taking the herb for two to three weeks should take a break for a week and then resume use. Finally it is best to consult a healthcare professional before using the herb and follow expert advice on dosage and administration.

For thousands of years, gotu kola has figured as an important herb in Oriental medicine and been the subject of numerous legends and folklores. According to an interesting anecdote, a Sri Lankan king named Aruna who lived in around 900 AD, would take gotu kola to satisfy the sexual needs of his fifty wives. While legends are interesting because they seem to be so exaggerated, the fact that modern science is exploring so many of the therapeutic benefits of gotu kola is a validation of the herb’s traditional importance as a medicine and aphrodisiac.