CentellaALTERNATIVE NAME(S): Centella or gotu kola, Centella asiatica, Indian pennywort, Asiatic pennywort or Mandookparni.


Centella asiatica, is a herbaceous, frost-tender perennial plant in the flowering plant family Apiaceae. Although native to the wetlands of Asia, it grows in temperate and tropical swampy areas in many regions of the world
Botany: The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in colour, connecting plants to each other. It has long-stalked, green, rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamy in colour and covered with root hairs.
The flowers are white or pinkish to red in colour, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size, less than 3 mm, with five to six corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles. The fruit are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle which have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit. The crop matures in three months, and the whole plant, including the roots, is harvested manually. It is a highly invasive plant, rated as “high risk”.

History and/or folklore: It is used as a culinary vegetable and as a medicinal herb (especially in African, Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine).
In different cuisines it is mostly used as an addition to salads or different drinks. In Myanmar cuisine raw pennywort (centella) is used as the main constituent in a salad mixed with onions, crushed peanuts, bean powder and seasoned with lime juice and fish sauce. Centella is used as a leafy green in Sri Lankan cuisine, being the predominantly locally available leafy green, where it is called gotu kola. The adjective got in Sinhala, is translated as “an inverted conical shape” (like the shape of a colander) and kola as “leaf”. It is most often prepared as malluma, a traditional accompaniment to rice and curry, and goes especially well with vegetarian dishes, such as dal, and jackfruit or pumpkin curry. It is considered nutritious. In addition to finely chopped gotu kola plants, the gotu kola malluma may can be eaten with grated coconut, diced shallots, lime (or lemon) juice, and sea salt.
In Indonesia, the leaves are used for sambai oi peuga-ga, an Aceh type of salad, and are also mixed into asinan in Bogor. In Vietnam and Thailand, the gotu kola leaf is used for preparing a drink or can be eaten in raw form in salads or cold rolls. In Malay cuisine it is known as pegaga, and the leaves of this plant are used for ulam, a type of Malay salad. Centella is widely used in various Indian regional cuisines. Among the Kukis of Northeast India, it is locally known as ‘Changkong che’ and is widely used as chutney along with dried red chili and fermented fish called ‘nga-thu’ or ‘ngari’.

Biochemistry: Centella contains pentacyclic triterpenoids, including asiaticoside, brahmoside, asiuyatic acid, and brahmic acid (madecassic acid). Other constituents include centellose, centelloside, and madecassoside.

The herb contains up to 2.4% of asiaticoside and up to 3.2% madecassoside.
Asiaticoside and madecassoside are usually available in the form of a white powder that is soluble in water.


Studies confirm the efficiency of asiaticoside and madecassoside in the treatment of wounds, sunburn, surgical scars, psoriasis and scleroderma. Asiaticoside and madecassoside accelerate the process of skin regeneration and reduce inflammation. They also help prevent creation of cellulite, stretch marks and signs of photoageing.

The C. Asiatica preparations used in conventional medicine are applied in an oral form (tablets and drops), topical medication (ointments and powder), in the form of injections (s.c., i.m.), and external or internal homeopathic preparations


Side effects are very rare. If they appear, they are a localised allergic reaction, feeling of burning, itching and skin inflammation.



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