If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with a chronic disease, you know how difficult it can be to feel fully functional while struggling to manage symptoms. In fact, the trouble often starts well before a diagnosis is made.
Because the symptoms of chronic disease often resemble other, less serious illnesses, it may take the people experiencing them a long time to figure out anything is wrong. They may think they’re simply struggling with a particularly nasty cold or hard-to-shake flu. Sometimes it can take months or even years for a person to realise what they’re dealing with is more than just a minor, temporary condition.
Even after accepting that something serious is going on health-wise, people with chronic illness often have a hard time finding a physician who believes them, who’s willing to listen rather than just dismissing the patient’s concerns. And even the most well-meaning doctor isn’t necessarily capable of spotting chronic disease, so misdiagnoses are common.
Once you know what you’re dealing with, the challenges of managing your symptoms begin to come into focus. You may find yourself inundated with conflicting information, or your practitioner may be offering you medications that you’re not comfortable taking long-term.
For patients with chronic illness, supplements can be a lifeline for helping to manage symptoms. With a long history of traditional use, herbs and other natural products provide a gentle alternative to conventional treatments for chronic disease. Let’s take a look at one relatively unknown herbal treatment option: gotu kola.
What is gotu kola?
Gotu kola, also known as Asiatic pennywort or by its botanical name Centella asiatica, is a perennial herb that is native to China, Japan, India, Sri Lanka, the South Pacific, Indonesia and South Africa. Gotu kola belongs to the Apiaceace family and is commonly used in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).
In China, gotu kola is sometimes called ‘the fountain of life’ because a legend says a herbalist who ate gotu kola lived for more than 200 years. Gotu kola is a popular food in many Asian countries, where it’s treated like a salad green and eaten raw.
How can gotu kola help in the fight against chronic disease?
In addition to being highly nutritious, this herb possesses a number of properties that may be helpful for patients dealing with chronic disease. Here are some of the health benefits of gotu kola.
Promotes wound healing
Science suggests gotu kola can help speed the healing of various skin wounds. Experts believe its wound-healing power can be attributed to its ability to improve antioxidant activity in the tissue while also having a positive effect on collagen production, which is necessary for healthy skin. In one study, researchers treated a number of different wound types – including excisions, abrasions and infections – with a hydrocolloid wound dressing loaded with gotu kola. They found that, compared to a commercial healing product, the gotu kola dressing improved healing in all the wound types studied.
Make Well understands the importance of wound healing for patients with chronic disease, which is why we’ve formulated our MRG derm to feature gotu kola. MRG derm has specifically been developed to address patients suffering from Morgellons disease; these patients often experience slow-healing wounds and ulcers on the skin.
Eases anxiety and reduces stress
Gotu kola has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat turbulent emotions for thousands of years, and modern science supports this use. Gotu kola appears to relieve symptoms of anxiety by lowering levels of the stress hormone cortisol and increasing levels of serotonin and dopamine. A study of patients with generalised anxiety disorder found that 500 milligrams of gotu kola taken twice daily for 60 days significantly reduced both anxiety and stress.
Anxiety is also a common symptom of many chronic illnesses, not to mention that the difficulty managing chronic disease can cause patients a lot of anxiety. Stress levels, too, tend to be high in people with chronic disease, which is troubling since stress itself is associated with so many serious health problems. Gotu kola can be a natural option for effectively alleviating anxiety and stress.
Gotu kola appears to boost blood flow throughout the body. It has been shown to help improve circulation in the legs for people with varicose veins and may even be useful for preventing the blood clots that sometimes occur when people travel on long-distance flights. Improved blood flow can also help wounds heal more quickly, which may be why gotu kola is so useful for wound healing.
For patients with a chronic illness that prevents them from being as active as they’d like, gotu kola could help get blood flowing, improving circulation and reducing symptoms like swollen ankles. Gotu kola has further been investigated successfully for its antithrombotic effects in a few studies.
Although not particularly well known outside of wellness circles, gotu kola is an exceptional herb with a wealth of healing potential, particularly in the fight against chronic disease.