Anti-Cancer Effects of Gotu Kola


Scientists at the Amala Cancer Research Center in Kerala, India, tested Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) and three other plants against cultured tumor cells in an in vitro study against cultured cancer cells. While the other three plants, coriander, cumin, and fennel, showed only very limited activity, Centella was effective in destroying 100 percent of the cultured tumor cells. The extract, a 5:1 concentrate, extracted with methanol and then dried, was effective at a level of 100 micrograms per milliliter. More importantly, the authors note, "...practically no toxic effects were detected in normal human lymphocytes [white blood cells]."

Gotu Kola was selected for testing because previous research had shown anti-tumor activity. Centella has also been shown to improve mental ability in mentally retarded children and contains a compound which is therapeutic against ulcerations, wounds, eczema, and other skin conditions. The plant is also considered to be a promising natural treatment for leprosy.

The results are especially encouraging because of the lack of toxicity. The authors comment that the use of chemotherapy drugs against cancer involves the risk of life-threatening toxicity to the patient. "The search, therefore, goes on to develop the drugs which selectively act on tumor cells." Centella appears to have selective toxicity against tumor cells.

In follow-up studies in animals, Centella extract more than doubled the life span of mice with tumors and showed a remarkable lack of toxicity even in doses far in excess of those used for therapeutic benefit. [Babu, T. D., Kuttan, G., Padikkala, J. 1995. "Cytotoxic and anti-tumor properties of certain taxa of Umbelliferae with special reference to Centella asiatica (L.) Urban. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 48:53-57.]

American Botanical Council.


By Rob McCaleb

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