Gotu Kola -Three months’ supplementation using an extract of the herb Gotu Kola – scientific name Centella asiatica – makes over 65s fitter. After taking the extract for three months, subjects could run faster and had stronger leg muscles. These were the results of an experiment that researchers at Khon Kaen University in Thailand published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.
Asian chefs use Gotu Kola as a flavour enhancer; traditional healers in Asia use it as a mild adaptogen. Adaptogens are extracts of a natural origin with a broad spectrum of ergogenic enhancing effect. They are said to delay aging processes, enable users to undertake heavy physical exertion and are also believed to enhance sexual performance. Gotu Kola is said to have all these effects and you can buy it in almost every pharmacy or supplements store.
The researchers wanted to know whether Gotu Kola does indeed possess the properties alluded to in the folklore, so they gave 80 subjects a capsule containing 0 [the placebo], 250, 500 or 750 mg Gotu Kola extract every day for 12 weeks. The extracts were water based. Each gram contained 29.9 mg tannic acid, 1.1 mg asiaticoside and 48.9 mg asiatic acid. Ethnopharmacologists believe that asiatic acid and its analogues are the bioactive substances in Gotu Kola. These are shown below.
Just before and after the supplementation period the researchers measured the distance the subjects were able to run in six minutes, and how many times they could stand up from sitting in 30 seconds. They discovered that Gotu Kola improved the subjects’ performance in both tests.
The researchers also got the subjects to squeeze a spring, but the supplementation had no effect on the strength in the participants’ hands.
“In conclusion, our study clearly demonstrated the potential of Centella asiatica to improve muscle strength, especially the muscle of the lower extremities”, the researchers write. “Centella asiatica might be useful as a natural resource in the development of functional foods improving the daily physical activity in the healthy elderly.”
The researchers did not find a clear relationship between dose and effect. They suspect that this is because the extracts were not standardized for the most important active ingredients in Gotu Kola. These are still unknown.
Centella asiatica Improves Physical Performance and Health-Related Quality of Life in Healthy Elderly Volunteer.
Mato L, Wattanathorn J, Muchimapura S, Tongun T, Piyawatkul N, Yimtae K, Thanawirattananit P, Sripanidkulchai B.
Department of Biomedical Science Program, Graduate School, Khon Kaen University, 40002, Thailand.
Recently, oxidative stress has been reported to contribute an important role in the decline of physical function as age advances. Numerous antioxidants can improve both physical and psychological performances resulting in the increase of health-related quality of life (HQOL). Therefore, we hypothesized that Centella asiatica, a medicinal plant reputed for nerve tonic, strength improvement and antioxidant activity, could improve the physical performance and HQOL especially in the physical satisfaction aspect, of the healthy elderly volunteer. To test this hypothesis, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial was performed. Eighty healthy elderly were randomly assigned to receive placebo or standardized extract of C. asiatica at doses of 250, 500 and 750?mg once daily for 90 days. The subjects were evaluated to establish baseline data of physical performance using 30-s chair stand test, hand grip test and 6-min walk test. The health-related quality of life was assessed using SF-36. These assessments were repeated every month throughout the 3-month experimental period using the aforementioned parameters. Moreover, 1 month after the cessation of C. asiatica treatment, all subjects were also evaluated using these parameters again. The results showed that after 2 months of treatment, C. asiatica at doses of 500 and 750?mg per day increased lower extremity strength assessed via the 30-s chair stand test. In addition, the higher doses of C. asiatica could improve the life satisfaction subscale within the physical function subscale. Therefore, the results from this study appear to support the traditional reputation of C. asiatica on strength improvement, especially in the lower extremities of the elderly. C. asiatica also possesses the potential to be a natural resource for vigor and strength increase, in healthy elderly persons. However, further research is essential.
PMID: 19880441 [PubMed]