Gotu Kola for Heart Disease and Strokes

You may have heard that gotu kola raises bad cholesterol levels and has harmful interactions with cholesterol medications. These suggestions were raised as a result of some animal studies and two small human studies conducted in the 1960s indicating an association between oral consumption of gotu kola and elevated cholesterol in normal animals or study participants. However, experts note that the increases in the human studies were not statistically significant, and recent research on gotu kola’s metabolic effects do not substantiate these concerns.40

Although it is too soon to tell, preliminary study evidence suggests that gotu kola may actually lower overall risk factors of coronary heart disease and stroke:

  • Rats fed a diet supplemented with powdered gotu kola had significantly lower levels of so-called bad cholesterol (LDL) and higher levels of the good cholesterol (HDL) compared to the control group of rats fed the same diet without gotu kola. (It should be noted that rats supplemented with both the powder and extract forms of gotu kola had higher levels of cholesterol than the control group, however.) The supplemented rats also showed a significant decrease in body weight.18
  • In one 12-month controlled clinical trial, administration of 60 mg of gotu kola extract three times a day was shown to stabilize atherosclerotic plaques, as measured by their density. Plaques that are associated with a greater risk of breaking off and causing a blockage and stroke are generally less dense and composed more of accumulated fat (i.e., cholesterol) than collagen. Gotu kola promotes the synthesis of collagen and increases the density of the plaques, making them less risky. An additional benefit of gotu kola identified in this study was the inhibition of plaque growth. While plaques in the patients of the untreated control group grew by a median 23%, those in the gotu kola-treated group stayed the same size after 12 months.41
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