Gotu kola, not to be confused with the caffeine-rich kola nut, is a red flowering plant that grows in India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar and other hot, swampy areas throughout the world. It has been a part of traditional Indian Ayurvedic healing for centuries, and especially revered for its therapeutic benefits towards skin disorders. Gotu kola is also a food of choice for elephants. Some believe the herb helps these animals - and perhaps humans as well - live to a ripe old age.
Gotu kola contains chemicals called "triterpenes"; which help form collagen in bones, cartilage and connective tissue. Taken internally or applied topically, the herb can be beneficial for burns, keloid scars, incisions and wounds. It is also shows promise as a treatment for varicose veins as it helps strengthen blood vessels and improve blood flow. Some studies show gotu kola is effective as a topical agent on psoriasis lesions.
Another use of gotu kola is for improving memory and mental acuity. Some studies show it helps improve the concentration levels of developmentally disabled children and Alzheimer's patients.