Centella asiatica, commonly centella (Sinhala: ගොටුකොල, gotu kola in Sinhala, Mandukaparni in Sanskritमधुकपर्णी,Kannada (ಒಂದೆಲಗ). Tamil: வல்லாரை, vallarai in Tamil, Kodakan in Malayalam(കൊടകന്)), is a small, herbaceous, annual plant of the family Mackinlayaceae or subfamily Mackinlayoideae of family Apiaceae, and is native to India, Sri Lanka, northern Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, and other parts of Asia. It is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. Botanical synonyms include Hydrocotyle asiatica L. and Trisanthus cochinchinensis (Lour.).
Centella is a mild adaptogen, is mildly antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, anxiolytic, nervine and vulnerary, and can act as a cerebral tonic, a circulatory stimulant, and a diuretic.
Centella asiatica may be useful in the treatment of anxiety.
In Thailand, tisanes of the leaves are used as an afternoon stimulant. A decoction of juice from the leaves is thought to relieve hypertension. A poultice of the leaves is also used to treat open sores.
Richard Lucas claimed in a book published in 1966(second edition in 1979) that a subspecies “Hydrocotyle asiatica minor” allegedly from Sri Lanka also called fo ti tieng, contained a longevity factor called ‘youth Vitamin X’ said to be ‘a tonic for the brain and endocrine glands’ and maintained that extracts of the plant help circulation and skin problems. However according to medicinal herbalist Michael Moore, it appears that there is no such subspecies and no Vitamin X is known to exist.
Several scientific reports have documented Centella asiatica’s ability to aid wound healing which is responsible for its traditional use in leprosy. Upon treatment with Centella asiatica, maturation of the scar is stimulated by the production of type I collagen. The treatment also results in a marked decrease in inflammatory reaction and myofibroblast production.
The isolated steroids from the plant also have been used to treat leprosy. In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that it may have nootropic effects. Centella asiatica is used to revitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration, and combat aging. Centella asiatica also has antioxidant properties. It works for venous insufficiency. It is used in Thailand for opium detoxification.
Followers of Sri Sri Thakur Anukulchandra, commonly known as Satsangees, all over the world take one or two fresh leaves with plenty of water in the morning after morning rituals. This is prescribed by Sri Sri Thakur himself.
Many reports show the medicinal properties of C. asiatica extract in a wide range of disease conditions, such as diabetic microangiopathy, edema, venous hypertension, and venous insufficiency. The role of C. asiatica extract in the treatment of memory enhancement and other neurodegenerative disorders is also well documented. The first report concerning the antitumor property of C. asiatica extract was on its growth inhibitory effects on the development of solid and ascites tumors, which lead to increased life span of tumor-bearing mice. The authors also suggested the extract directly impeded the DNA synthesis. “In our study, C. asiatica extract showed an obvious dose dependent inhibition of cell proliferation in breast cancer cells.”
The Effects of Gotu Kola on the Brain
Traditionally, Gotu kola has been used as a brain tonic to support memory. It has been called a “brain food” and has been recommended for overstressed people, mood, to improve reflexes and to support feelings of calmness. Gotu kola has also been studied in humans and was found to have a positive influence on enhancing peripheral circulation.
Scientific research into Gotu kola extracts and its effects on the brain really only began in earnest in the past decade. In 2002, Gotu kola water extracts were administered to rats, where it improved their cognitive function in terms of learning and memory in a standard shuttle box avoidance and step through test. Brain levels of malondialdehyde (MDA), an indicator of overall oxidative stress, was reduced, and brain levels of the endogenous antioxidant glutathione were increased.