Gotu kola is a medicinal plant that people use to treat a variety of physical maladies, including psoriasis, leprosy, syphilis and hepatitis. Some people also use gotu kola to banish mental fatigue and anxiety and to enhance memory.
Another common use for gotu kola is the treatment of minor wounds and varicose veins.
Gotu kola grows in South Africa, Indonesia and the South Pacific, among other places. It has long been a part of the traditional medicinal practices of both China and India.
Gotu kola is a semi-aquatic plant and is related to parsley, though it has neither taste nor smell. Its fan-shaped leaves resemble the leaves of the ginkgo tree. The leaves and stems of gotu kola are the parts that have medicinal properties. People can use the plant as a tea, in capsules and in tinctures. A tincture is an alcohol solution in which the leaves of stems of a plant have been steeped.
Most people can take gotu kola without adverse side effects, though some people might suffer drowsiness, headache and gastrointestinal upsets. Additionally, the herb has been known to make a person's skin photosensitive. People who have had skin cancer, or who have liver disease, should not use gotu kola.