Centella asiatica is the other word for gotu kola, but is also known as Indian Pennywort and Mandookaparni. It has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb and was referred to in the French pharmacopoeia in 1884, as well as the ancient traditional Chinese Shennong Herbal some 2,000 years ago, well as in Indian Ayurvedic medicine some 3,000 years ago.
It has been used for: wound healing, better circulation, memory enhancement, cancer, vitality, general tonic, respiratory ailments, detoxifying the body, treatment of skin disorders (such as psoriasis and eczema), revitalizing connective tissue, burns and scars treatment, clearing up skin infections, slimming and edema, arthritis, rheumatism, treatment of liver and kidneys, periodontal disease, strengthening of veins (varicose veins), blood purifier, high blood pressure, sedative, anti-stress, anti-anxiety, an aphrodisiac, immune booster, anabolic and adaptogen etc.
None of these above claims have been evaluated by the FDA, but research have been done by various institutes and universities, which concluded that more research is called for on this ancient herb.
Although somebody once said "if it sounds too good to be true, it usually is" - I am not sure that this applies to this herb, as the qualities exhibited by it, has been used for centuries and is still in use today - for that reason, I do believe that there must be truth in the anecdotal claims made on behalf of this herb. (This herb is in the same class as apple cider vinegar.)
It contains a variety of ingredients, but the active ingredients are asiaticoside (a triterpene glycoside) (triterpenoid), brahmoside & brahminoside (both saponin glycosides), madecassoside (a glycoside with strong anti-inflammatory properties), madecassic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine, vitamin K, asparate, glutamate, serine, threonine, alanine, lysine, histidine, magnesium, calcium and sodium.
It contains no caffeine (it is sometimes confused with kola nut, which contains high caffeine content) yet; it is used extensively to increase energy and vitality. The reason for this might be because it is said to assist with increasing the blood sugar level, which in turn would prevent hypoglycemia, mental fatigue, depression, confusion as well as schizophrenic tendencies - or it could be because of the high concentration of thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6) which assists to convert carbohydrates into glucose as well as normal nervous system functioning.
In animal testing it was also shown that centella (together with capsicum and Siberian ginseng) can assist in overcoming the negative effects of fatigue and stress.
In traditional African health it has been used for the treatment of leprosy (the asiaticoside content dissolves the waxy coating of the leprosy bacteria - allowing the immune system to destroy the bacteria), bronchitis, asthma, syphilis and wound healing; in India it has for the last 3,000 years of Ayurvedic medicine been used for wound healing, a mild diuretic, increasing concentration, alertness, as well as anti-anxiety and anti-stress; in the Far East it is used for treatment of depression, longevity, (in China it is called the "fountain of Youth")
In our modern day pharmaceutical world (a fact acknowledged by a major multi-national pharmaceutical manufacturer, since they make a centella extract as well) it is often used as active ingredient in tonics, oral slimming formulas, body-beautiful preparations, body firming products, wound healing, anti-aging skin care products (independent studies have shown the topical effectiveness between centella and treating stretch marks).
Great stock is also put by using this herb for bedridden and post-operative patients for a couple of reasons - wound healing, preventing bedsores, epithelial ulcers, as well as helping prevent muscular atrophy.
It beneficial effects on the venous system is of great help to people suffering from diverse problems such as varicose veins, gastric ulcers, phlebitis, hemorrhoids, etc. In this action the centella helps in strengthening the capillaries and veins and in so doing assist with better blood circulation.
With its effect on connective tissue great value is achieved with the synthesis of collagen, thickening of the skin (a great anti-aging property - as we age our skins become thinner), increasing the tensile strength of the flesh, wound healing, repair of damaged tissue as well as promoting hair and nail growth.
In a French study done in 1966 it was found that it had a significant healing effect when used after episiotomy - a surgical cut of the vulva to prevent tearing during childbirth. The cut healed more rapidly than with standard treatment.
Other anti-aging properties that this herb is said to promote is an increase in hemoglobin, and a decrease of urea and acid phosphates levels in the blood.
Although Yogis have use this herb to increase their meditation abilities through better concentration, focus and alertness, this herb has also shown great promise in improving mental retardation and increasing IQ.
It has been used for centuries in the treatment of liver and kidney problems, and has once again become popular as an alternative treatment for people suffering from hepatitis as well as alcoholic liver disease.
When detoxifying the body it is also helpful to look for help from centella, as it assists with destroying toxic accumulation in the brain as well as the nerves, while it helps to clear the body from heavy metals as well as drugs - including recreational drugs.
In alternative health this herb is used to treat tumors and cancerous growths, without suppressing the auto immune system or creating toxic wastes within the body.
No RDA or dosage has been determined but fresh leaves can be used in salads, or dried leaves can also be used to make tea. Supplements are also available in varying strengths.
Toxicity and symptoms of high intake
Nausea has been reported at very high levels of intake.
It should not be taken internally as a supplement by children under 4 or breast-feeding / pregnant mothers. People taking sedatives should also not use centella as a supplement.
Gotu kola is found in the following Zest for Life products