Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Gotu Kola - The Arthritis Herb

According to the National Center for Health Statistics there were 45.8 million adults with diagnosed arthritis in the United States in 1993. Although the term literally means joint inflammation, arthritis really refers to a group of more than 100 rheumatic diseases and conditions that can cause pain, stiffness and swelling in the joints.

The two most common forms of the disease are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of arthritis, especially among older people. Sometimes it is called degenerative joint disease or osteoarthrosis. Osteoarthritis is a joint disease that mostly affects the cartilage. Cartilage is the slippery tissue that covers the ends of bones in a joint. Healthy cartilage allows bones to glide over one another. It also absorbs energy from the shock of physical movement. In osteoarthritis, the surface layer of cartilage breaks down and wears away. This allows bones under the cartilage to rub together, causing pain, swelling, and loss of motion of the joint.

Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the bodies own immune system mistakenly attacks the synovium (cell lining inside the joint). This chronic, potentially disabling disease causes pain, stiffness, swelling, and loss of function in the joints.

Today more and more people are seeking an alternative treatment to combat the pain of arthritis. One such treatment that may hold promise is the use of the herb Gotu Kola.

Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) also known as Indian pennywort, marsh penny and water pennywort is a creeping Perennial herb, native to tropical and sub-Tropical Asia, some South Pacific islands, coastal and central Africa. It has been used for centuries in both Ayurveda and Chinese medicine and was first accepted as a drug in France in the 1880's.

Although treating arthritis is not the most common traditional use of Gotu Kola, down under in Australia Gotu Kola is commonly known as Pennywort "The Arthritis Herb" where the fresh leaves are used to treat arthritic conditions and has become extremely popular. Frequent reports of its efficacy have prompted the Herbal Medicines Research and Education Centre to start a research project to investigate the popular use of Pennywort (Centella asiatica) for the treatment of arthritis.

Numerous reports have emerged from the general public that eating 2 leaves each day is said to relieve the pain of arthritis and even plant nurseries in Australia sell the plant as 'the arthritis herb'.

Gotu kola should not by taken if you are pregnant, breast-feeding or taking certain medications.

Before taking any alternative treatment talk to your doctor, pharmacist, or health care professional if you have any other medical conditions, allergies (especially to plants), or if you take other medicines or other herbal/health supplements.

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