Botanical Name : Centella asiatica
Other Names : Pennywort, Jal brahmi, Centella, Mandookaparni.
In Sanskrit texts, this plant was called Brahmi and Mandukaparni. According to Ainslie the leaves were used for pediatric complaints in bowel problems, fever and applied externally for blows and bruises in the Coromandel Coast. In Java, , Brahmi was considered diuretic and on the Malabar Coast, the plant is one of the remedies for leprosy. GOTU KOLA (Centella Asiatica) is also a very popular herb in India for longevity and mental function. It is used to decrease fatigue and depression, and to stimulate the sex drive. It energizes the central nervous system, and aids the circulatory system, soothes and minimizes varicose veins and helps to minimize scarring. It is also useful in repairing skin and connective tissues and smoothing out cellulite.
It found in swampy areas of India, commonly found as a weed in crop fields and other waste places throughout India up to an altitude of 600 m.
Chemical composition / key active constituents
Samples of the Indian plants collected from different places showed the presence of the following glycosides: indocentelloside, brahmoside, brahminoside, asiaticoside, thankuniside and isothankuniside. The corresponding triterpene acids obtained on hydrolysis of the glycosides are indocentoic, brahmic, asiatic, thankunic and isothankunic. These acids, except the last two, are also present in free form in the plant apart from isobrahmic and betulic acids. The presence of mesoinositol, a new oligosaccharide, ‘centellose’, kaempferol, quercetin and stigmasterol, have also been reported.
The main active ingredients in Brahmi are Bacoside A and B. Bacoside A assists in release of nitric oxide that allows the relaxation of the aorta and veins, to allow the blood to flow more freely through the body. Therefore Brahmi is revered for strenghtening the immune system, improving vitality and performance and promoting longevity.
Bacoside B is a protein valued for nourishing the brain cells, as a result Brahmi improves mental clarity, confidence, intelligence and memory recall. It has been widely used by students and older people alike.
Asiaticosides stimulate the reticuloendothelial system where new blood cells are formed and old ones destroyed, fatty materials are stored, iron is metabolized, and immune responses and inflammation occur or begin. The primary mode of action of Centella appears to be on the various phases of connective tissue development, which are part of the healing process. Centella also increases keratinization, the process of building more skin in areas of infection such as sores and ulcers. Asiaticosides also stimulate the synthesis of lipids and proteins necessary for healthy skin. Finally centella strengthens veins by repairing the connective tissues surrounding veins and decreasing capillary fragility.
The plant is valued in indigenous medicine for treatment of leprosy and skin diseases and also to improve memory. A cold poultice of the fresh herb is used as an external application in rheumatism, elephantiasis and hydrocele. For treating leprosy and other skin diseases it is given as an ointment or dusting powder. Internally it has been valued as a tonic and is used in bronchitis, asthma, gastric catarahh, leucorrhoea, kidney troubles, urethritis and dropsy. A decoction of very young shoots is given for haemorrhoids. It is used for Blood Conditions, Brain and Nervous System Conditions, Cardiovascular Conditions Gastrointestinal Conditions, Glandular Conditions, Immune System Conditions, cough problems, Liver Conditions, Respiratory Tract Conditions, and Tissue Development.
- Phytochemistry, 1978,17:287
- J.Res.Ayurveda & Siddha 1980, 1,133
- Sharma, R. et al. (1987) J.Res. Edu. Ind. Med. 1-10
- Singh, R.H.,Singh, L.J.(1980)J.Res.Ayur.Siddha. 1:133-148
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