Hydrocotyl (Hydrocotyl asiatica) is more commonly known as Pennywort or Centella asiatica. It is a member of the parsley family. It is found in many different varieties, including Indian Pennywort, Marsh Penny, and Thick-leaved Pennywort. It is a small plant originally found to grow in the southern region of Africa, India, Australia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and China. Other varieties of Pennywort are found throughout many other countries.
This perennial plant grows freely in rural locations, particularly near the edges of rivers and lakes. Initially, this species grows at a slow pace before spreading quickly and profusely. It does well in full sun, as well as in shade, and in well-drained, fertile soil. It is an herbaceous plant that creeps along the ground.
Hydrocotyl extract is derived from the roots and leaves of the plant. Components of the plant include tannic acid and vellarin, a volatile liquid with an oily consistency and a bitter taste. This extract is also known as Gotu Kola and Centella asiatica extract. Its versatility promotes its use for a variety of skin care uses as well as for medicinal purposes. Some studies have indicated that the active components of the extract promote the skin's natural elasticity.
Its history of use dates back many centuries to ancient times and the practices of Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, when it was commonly used to treat sexually transmitted diseases, leprosy, and respiratory infections, as well as fevers. Today, it is commonly used within the United States to treat cellulitis and varicose veins. More studies are needed to definitively determine the efficacy of this botanical ingredient for these and other uses. Its many uses are wide-ranging, touching upon both physical and mental health.
Hydrocotyl asiatica has been used in India and other locations as a tonic to stimulate a renewed level of energy, increase sex drive, or combat symptoms associated with depression and fatigue. Along those lines, extracts from this plant have been used in the treatment of senility, learning disabilities, and diseases of the mind. In mild doses, Hydrocotyl can perform as a stimulant, while larger doses can cause headache and even coma or a sense of vertigo. The leaves of the Hydrocotyl asiatica have been included in some cultures as an ingredient in fresh salads.
Traditionally, Hydrocotyl has been used medicinally to treat skin lesions, diseases, and wounds in China and India. It was also used to treat more serious problems including strains and fractures of the bone. In India, Hydrocotyl has been used as an aperient (mild laxative) for the treatment of bowel complaints, fever, rheumatism, leprosy, and ichthyosis. Poultices made with Hydrocotyl have sometimes been used to treat syphilitic ulcers. Based upon the belief that Hydrocotyl asiatica stimulate blood circulation, it has been used for centuries to assist in the healing of wounds. In the late 1880s, Hydrocotyl began to be used for medicinal purposes by the Western world.
In recent years, the popularity of using Hydrocotyl asiatica in Ayurvedic medicine as a tonic has increased considerably. Drawing from its use in Chinese and Indian medicine as a tonic to promote mental functionality and longevity, Ayurvedic medicine utilizes Hydrocotyl asiatica for those same purposes as well as to serve as a nerve tonic designed to soothe the nerves. It is considered a balancing tonic since it not only relaxes the human body, but it also energizes the spirit along with the body.
Hydrocotyl is found in hair products (shampoos, conditioners, and sprays), eye creams and treatments, anti-aging solutions, cleansing formulas, body washes, and facial moisturizers. The extract has been discovered to offer beneficial soothing effects when included in formulas intended to minimize itching of the skin. It creates a calming release from the discomfort of itching, leading to its use in skin care formulas, particularly for dry or sensitive skin types.
Hydrocotyl asiatica is considered useful in promoting collagen production and minimizing the level of excess fluid held by the body. Due to its anti-inflammatory capabilities, Hydrocotyl asiatica is used to treat hemorrhoids and varicose veins, while alleviating the symptoms of tiredness and discomfort that often accompany these conditions. It has also been found useful in reducing puffiness, swelling and mild inflammations, since it promotes circulation of the blood.