Updated: Dec 11, 2020
Gotu kola, known as the herb of longevity, is a plant that is native to the wetlands in Asia. It has been long used in eastern medicine, more specifically Chinese and Indonesian, and is now used worldwide for many different conditions.
Gotu kola has a whole host of health benefits including, but not limited to: improving cognitive function, reducing anxiety and stress, promoting wound healing, easing insomnia, and more. But that’s not all gotu kola has to offer. There is some evidence that suggests that gotu kola may hold a few surprising benefits for people who suffer from hair loss.
Exactly how can gotu kola affect hair loss? That is the question we will be exploring throughout this article. Let’s take a look into exactly how this perennial plant may be able to help your follicles flourish.
How gotu kola can help hair loss
Gotu kola has many different properties that may offer some benefit in suppressing some of the underlying causes of hair loss. Although the research on gotu kola and hair loss is limited (a theme that you will get very familiar with by the end of this article), the evidence that is available is intriguing and certainly warrants further investigation.
Many different herbs and medicines work in increase circulation, and although gotu kola does as well, it does so in a very unique way.
It has been indicated in a few studies (1,2) that taking gotu kola can help maintain, and even strengthen the connective tissue in the vascular wall of veins. This has shown to lead to more efficient blood flow throughout the body, and more specifically the scalp. It’s simple: healthier/more efficient veins = a higher rate of blood flow, but how does this relate to hair loss?
Blood is responsible for delivering vital oxygen and nutrients to your hair follicles that they need in order to grow. Increasing blood flow to the scalp is what many mainstream hair loss treatments such as minoxidil and low-level laser therapy work to do because it is very important for regrowth.
If blood flow is restricted, the hair follicles may not be able to complete healthy growth cycles which can lead to miniaturization and has been shown (3) to be associated with the early onset of pattern hair loss.
There was a study done in 2010 (4) that confirmed that the increased blood flow from taking gotu kola can help promote hair growth. The researchers compared different ointments containing herbs, one of which was gotu kola, and tested their ability to promote hair growth.
Although the study found that ointments containing a combination of herbs was the most effective, gotu kola as a standalone was shown to have the greatest impact on hair density and length.
Albeit, even though the evidence is strong that gotu kola can benefit venous insufficiency and the implication for hair loss is there, more research that targets hair loss specifically is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
Reducing stress and anxiety
Anxiety can cause stress, and one of stresses well-known side effects is telogen effluvium, or rapid temporary hair loss (5). Although stress-related hair loss is reversible in most cases, the hair loss can exacerbate stress, cause depression, and worsen the hairs condition of someone who is already suffering from androgenic alopecia (pattern hair loss; the last thing someone in that position wants).
Luckily, gotu kola may be able to mitigate that. A 2013 review (6) stated that gotu kola has a strong anti-anxiety effect. Another study (7) that was conducted on mice revealed similar findings: gotu kola promoted sleep in the mice by alleviating anxiety.
But, at this point in the article the theme around gotu kola should be pretty clear: more research is needed in just about every aspect relating to hair loss, to which stress and anxiety are no exception.
Unfortunately, just as gotu kola is unique in how it increases blood flow, it also has a unique side effect profile that is different from most natural hair loss treatments.
Most natural herbs do not have many side effects, and those that they do have are generally mild. Gotu kola does not fit that profile.
Of course, as expected, the evidence surrounding gotu kola’s side effects is limited, but what little evidence there is suggests that there may be a larger-than-normal side effect profile. Some of these side effects include:
You should always consult your doctor before taking any medication or supplement.
Is gotu kola a surefire way to beat hair loss? No, but it has the potential to be able to help.
By increasing blood flow, promoting growth, and reducing anxiety/stress, gotu kola may be able to contribute to a healthier head of hair. Yes, the research is limited, but like with most good things you must be patient. Hopefully in the near future scientists will begin to explore gotu kola for hair loss more seriously.
We have chosen to include gotu kola in our hair supplement Follicle Foundation. We believe the potential benefits outweigh the risks and it may be very helpful in improving your current hairs condition, giving you a better foundation for more powerful treatments to be effective and help you overcome your hair loss.