Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola)

Chapter 75 Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola)

Centella asiatica (family: Umbelliferae or Apiaceae)

Synonym: Hydrocotyle asiatica L.

Common names: gotu kola, Indian pennywort, South African pennywort, mandukaparni

image History and Folk Use

Centella has been used as a medicine in India since prehistoric times and is thought to be identical to the plant mandukaparni, listed in the Susruta Samhita (one of the valuable treatises in Ayurveda). Centella was also used extensively as a medicine, both internally and externally, by the people of Java and other islands of Indonesia. The medicinal use of centella in India and Indonesia centered around its ability to heal wounds and relieve leprosy, although it was also considered to be one of the “Rasayana”(rejuvenator) herbal medicines and was used to enhance memory and prolong life.1,2

In the nineteenth century, centella and its extracts were incorporated into the Indian pharmacopeia, in which, in addition to being recommended for wound healing, it was recommended for the treatment of skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, and psoriasis. It was also used to treat diarrhea, fever, amenorrhea, and diseases of the female genitourinary tract.1

In China, the leaves are prescribed for turbid leukorrhea and toxic fevers, whereas the shoots are used for boils and fevers. The plant is also used in the treatment of fractures, contusions, strains, and snakebites.1 Centella was also used in China to delay senescence. One of the reported “miracle elixirs of life,” centella’s reputation as a promoter of longevity stems from the report of Chinese herbalist LiChing Yun, who reportedly lived 256 years. LiChing Yun’s longevity was supposedly a result of his regular use of an herbal mixture chiefly composed of centella.6,7

C. asiatica was first accepted as a drug in France in the 1880s. Since then, centella extracts have been used to treat many of the previously listed conditions, along with those described later in the section on “Clinical Applications”.

Centella, or gotu kola, has aroused much curiosity in American consumers. Many confuse gotu kola with kola nuts and assume gotu kola’s rejuvenating activity is nothing more than the stimulant effect of caffeine. However, gotu kola is not related to the kola nut (Cola nitida or Cola acuminata), nor does it contain any caffeine.

image Pharmacology

The majority of pharmacologic investigations on C. asiatica focused on the triterpene’s wound healing and venotonic activity.1,2 Although the exact mechanism of action has not yet been fully determined, a number of interesting observations have been made:

More recent investigations focused on some of centella’s effects on the central nervous system, cognitive function, stress, and anxiety.2 The major effects are an enhancement of cholinergic mechanisms, as well as a significant antioxidant action via increasing glutathione levels.77,78 Presumably, these mechanisms are responsible for the improvements in mental function noted in both animal and clinical trials. Excellent results in improving cognitive function and memory were seen in animal models of Alzheimer’s disease.79

Centella was also shown to possess other diverse pharmacologic effects in experimental models, including antiulcer, antimicrobial, immunomodulatory, and spasmolytic activity.2

image Clinical Applications

Obviously, from the brief description of centella’s pharmacologic activity given earlier, it is a valuable agent for the healing of wounds and treatment of venous insufficiency, and may also prove useful in improving mental function. Table 75-1 provides an abridged list of documented clinical applications of C. asiatica. The more popular uses of this valuable plant are discussed as follows in alphabetical order.

TABLE 75-1 Clinical Applications of Centella asiatica

Anal fissure 15
Bladder ulcer 16, 17
Burn 18, 19
Cellulite 2025
Cirrhosis 2628
Dermatitis 20, 29
Fibrocystic breast 30
Hemorrhoid 31
Keloid 3234
Leprosy 11, 19, 35, 36
Lupus erythematosus 37
Mental retardation 38
Mycosis fungoides 37
Peptic ulcer 39, 40
Perineal lesion 41
Periodontal disease 42
Retinal detachment 43
Scleroderma 4447
Skin ulcer 4855
Surgical wound 8, 43, 49, 5661
Tuberculosis 8, 62
Venous disorder 6375, 8286
Wound healing 8, 43, 49, 5661

Sep 12, 2016 | Posted by in MANUAL THERAPIST | Comments Off on Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola)
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