Centella asiatica, alternatively known as gotu kola or Indian pennywort, is a creeping herbaceous annual plant with thin stems and flat, crescent-shaped green leaves. It has tiny, reddish-pink flowers that grow in small, spherical bunches close to the soil. Centella asiatica grows wild in ditches and marshy areas of Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, northern Australia, Iran, and Papua New Guinea. Centella asiatica contains vitamins A, B, C, and D, together with a range of minerals, including zinc, potassium, calcium, magnesium, manganese, sodium, silica, and selenium. It also contains chemicals known as triterpenoids that stimulate the production of collagen in the body. Flavinoids and amino acids are also found in centella asiatica.
The healing properties of centella asiatica have been known for centuries. Its leaves and stems are used in traditional Chinese, African, and Ayurvedic medicine. In Chinese medicine, centella asiatica is sometimes referred to as the "fountain of youth" due to its healing properties and positive effects on wellbeing.
Centella asiatica has antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory properties. It has traditionally been used as a treatment for skin conditions such as psoriasis, dermatitis, and minor burns. Centella asiatica is able to heal wounds and burns because of its ability to increase the blood supply to the affected area, elevate the level of antioxidants in the wound, and encourage the production of fibroblasts, the cells that synthesize collagen. Its collagen-boosting and anti-inflammatory properties mean that centella asiatica can diminish the appearance of stretch marks and keloid scars.
Centella asiatica has a toning and tightening effect on the skin when applied topically. As a result, it is often found as an ingredient in skin firming creams and lotions. Due to its ability to stimulate collagen production, centella asiatica can improve the appearance of aging skin affected by fine lines and wrinkles. The reduction of collagen in the skin’s supporting matrix is a key reason for the formation of fine lines and wrinkles as skin matures. Its ability to replenish collagen supplies makes centella asiatica a useful anti-aging ingredient.
Centella asiatica has a toning and tightening effect on the skin when applied topically.
Centella asiatica has a positive effect on skin affected by cellulite, which causes a dimpled, lumpy appearance similar to orange peel. Cellulite typically appears on the thighs, buttocks, and upper arms. By increasing blood flow, delivering potent antioxidants, reducing inflammation, and acting as a diuretic, centella asiatica smoothes and detoxifies areas affected by cellulite.
Centella asiatica supplements or tea infusions can be taken orally to relieve symptoms of stress, anxiety, and hypertension. Centella asiatica contains a triterpenoid called asiaticoside, which has mild sedative and anti-anxiety properties. When taken orally, centella asiatica is also known to stimulate the circulation and strengthen the walls of veins and capillaries, making it a useful treatment for varicose veins and venous insufficiency. By increasing the supply of blood to the capillaries under the skin, centella asiatica can improve the health and condition of skin’s surface layers. It can also stimulate hair and nail growth by delivering an increased flow of oxygenated blood to the hair follicles and nail beds.
Oral supplements of centella asiatica can improve memory function by increasing the flow of blood to the brain.
Oral supplements of centella asiatica can improve memory function by increasing the flow of blood to the brain. This can boost the levels of oxygen in the brain, improving concentration and mental acuity. In the Far East, centella asiatica is often drunk in the afternoons as a pick-me-up or tonic that boosts mental ability and clarity of thought.
In Ayurveda, centella asiatica is used to treat diabetes, leprosy, cataracts, and coughs. Studies indicate that centella asiatica may have a positive effect on the symptoms of Parkinsons Disease. However, it should be noted that centella asiatica is not recognized as a medicine by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Centella asiatica is used as an ingredient in Malaysian, Indonesian, Thai, and Sri Lankan cuisine. It can be eaten raw as part of a green salad. In Sri Lanka, centella asiatica is sometimes incorporated in to a form of porridge known as kola kenda, which is cooked with boiled red rice and coconut milk. Sweet drinks can be made from the leaves of centella asiatica.
Consumption of centella asiatica can affect liver function. Therefore, it should not be taken orally by individuals with liver disease or those taking medication that affects the liver, such as statin drugs.