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Centella asiatica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Mackinlayaceae
Genus: Centella
Species: C. asiatica
Binomial name
Centella asiatica
(L.) Urban

Hydrocotyle asiatica L.
Trisanthus cochinchinensis Lour.

Centella asiatica is a small herbaceous annual plant of the family Mackinlayaceae or subfamily Mackinlayoideae of family Apiaceae, and is native to India, Sri Lanka, northern Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Melanesia, New Guinea, and other parts of Asia. Common names include Gotu Kola (ගොටුකොල), Asiatic Pennywort, Indian Pennywort, Luei Gong Gen, Takip-kohol, Antanan, Pegagan, Pegaga, vallaarai (வல்லாரை), Kula kud, Bai Bua Bok (ใบบัวบก), Brahmi (this last name is shared with Bacopa monnieri[1]) and rau má (Vietnamese). In Assamese it is known as Manimuni. It is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Botanical synonyms include Hydrocotyle asiatica L. and Trisanthus cochinchinensis (Lour.).In Telugu Language this is known as "Saraswathi Plant" in India.



The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish green in color, interconnecting one plant to another. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with 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 creamish in color and covered with root hairs.

The flowers are pinkish to red in color, 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 5-6 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.


Centella grows along ditches and in low wet areas. In Indian and Southeast Asian centella, the plant frequently suffers from high levels of bacterial contamination, possibly from having been harvested from sewage ditches. Because the plant is aquatic, it is especially sensitive to pollutants in the water, which easily are incorporated into the plant.[2][3]

Culinary use

Centella is used as a leafy green in Sri Lankan cuisine, where it is called Gotu Kola. In Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) Gotu = conical shape and Kola= leaf. It is most often prepared as mallung; a traditional accompaniment to rice and curry, and goes especially well with vegetarian dishes such as parippu' (dhal), and jackfruit or pumpkin curry. It is considered quite nutritious. In addition to finely chopped gotu kola, mallung almost always contains grated coconut and may also contain finely chopped green chilis, chili powder (1/4 teaspoon), turmeric powder (1/8 teaspoon) and lime (or lemon) juice.

A variation of the extremely nutritious porridge known as Kola Kenda is also made with Gotu Kola by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. Kola Kenda is made with very well boiled red rice (with extra liquid), coconut milk and Gotu Kola which is liquidized. The porridge is accompanied with Jaggery for sweetness. Centella leaves are also used in the sweet "pennywort drink."

In Indonesia, the leaves are used for sambai oi peuga-ga, an Aceh type of salad, also mixed into asinan in Bogor.

In Vietnam and Thailand this leaf is used for preparing a drink or can be eaten in raw form in salads or cold rolls.

In Malay cuisine the leaves of this plant are used for ulam, a type of Malay salad.[4]

It is one of the constituents of the Indian summer drink "thandaayyee".

Medicinal effects

Gotu kola is a mild adaptogen, is mildly antibacterial, anti-viral, anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcerogenic, anxiolytic, a cerebral tonic, a circulatory stimulant, a diuretic, nervine and vulnerary.[5 ][6]

When eaten raw as a salad leaf, pegaga is thought to help maintain youthfulness. In Thailand cups with gotu kola leaves are used as an afternoon pick me up.[7] A decoction of juice from the leaves is thought to relieve hypertension. This juice is also used as a general tonic for good health. A poultice of the leaves is also used to treat open sores.

Richard Lucas claimed in a book published in 1966 [8](second edition in 1979) that a subspecies "Hydrocotyle asiatica minor" allegedly from Sri Lanka also called "Fo ti tieng", contained a longevity factor called 'youth Vitamin X' said to be 'a tonic for the brain and endocrine glands' and maintained that extracts of the plant help circulation and skin problems.[9] However according to medicinal herbalist Michael Moore, it appears that there is no such subspecies and no Vitamin X is known to exist.[10] Nonetheless some of the cerebral circulatory and dermatological actions claimed from centella (as hydrocotyle) have a solid basis.

Several scientific reports have documented Centella asiatica's ability to aid wound healing, which is responsible for its traditional use in leprosy. Upon treatment with Centella asiatica, maturation of the scar is stimulated by the production of type I collagen. The treatment also results in a marked decrease in inflammatory reaction and myofibroblast production[11].

The isolated steroids from the plant have been used to treat leprosy.[12][13] In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that it may have nootropic effects.[14] Centella asiatica is used to re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration [15], and combat aging.[14] Centella asiatica also has anti-oxidant properties.[5 ] It works for venous insufficiency.[16] It is used in Thailand for opium detoxification.

Ayurvedic medicine

In India it is popularly known by a variety of names: Bemgsag, Brahma manduki, Brahmanduki, Brahmi, Ondelaga (North India, West India), Gotu kola, Khulakhudi, Mandukparni, Mandookaparni, Mandukaparni (South India), or Thankuni depending on region. It is often confused with Bacopa monnieri which is the more famous "Brahmi", both have some common therapeutic properties in Vedic texts and both are used for improving memory. However, current research has clearly established the difference in pharmacological activities of these two herbs.

Probably the earliest study of Mandookaparni as Medya Rasayana (improving the mental ability) was carried out at Dr.A.Lakshmipathy Research Centre(now under CCRAS)VHS,Adyar,Chennai by Dr.M.V.R Apparao,Kanchana Srinivasan et al.[17]


Gotu Kola is a minor feature in the longevity myth of the Tai Chi Chuan master Li Ching-Yun. He purportedly lived to be 256, due in part to his usage of traditional Chinese herbs including Gotu Kola.

A popular folklore tale from Sri Lanka speaks of a prominent king from the 10th century AD named Aruna Withane who claimed that Gotu Kola provided him with energy and stamina to satisfy his 50-woman harem.


  1. ^ Daniel, M. (2005). Medicinal plants: chemistry and properties. Science Publishers. pp. 225. ISBN 9781578083954.  
  2. ^ Cadmium,mercury and lead in medicinal herbs in Brazil
  3. ^ An Exploration of Current Issues in Botanical Quality-Health Canada
  4. ^ "Nasi ulam". Retrieved 2009-05-07.  
  5. ^ a b Winston, D., Maimes, S., Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, 2007, pp. 226-7
  6. ^ "A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study on the Effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on Acoustic Startle Response in Healthy Subjects". Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology. 20(6):680-684, December 2000. Bradwejn, Jacques MD, FRCPC *; Zhou, Yueping MD, PhD ++; Koszycki, Diana PhD *; Shlik, Jakov MD, PhD
  7. ^ Herbal Ed Smith
  8. ^ Natures Medicines by Richard Lucas,Publisher: Wilshire Book Co., 1966
  9. ^ Natures Medicine by Richard Lucas et al. Prentice Hall, 1979
  10. ^ Michael Moore "Fo ti"
  11. ^ Widgerow, Alan D.; Laurence A. Chait (July 2000). "New Innovations in Scar Management" (abstract). Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Springer New York) 24 (3): 227–234. doi:10.1007/s002660010038. ISSN: 0364-216X (Print) 1432-5241 (Online). Retrieved 2007-01-28.  
  12. ^ B. M. Hausen (1993) "Centella asiatica (Indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic but a weak sensitizer." Contact Dermatitis 29 (4), 175–179 doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1993.tb03532.x
  13. ^ Centella asiatica Herbal Extracts, Centella asiatica Natural Herbal Extracts Co2 Herb Extract
  14. ^ a b Bradwejn, J., Zhou, Y., et al., "A Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Study On The Effects of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on Acoustic Startle Response in Healthy Subjects", J. Clinical Psychopharmacology 2000 Dec; 20(6):680-4
  15. ^ Brinkhause, B., Lindner, M., et al., "Chemical, Pharmacological and Clinical Profile of The East Asian Medical Plant Centella asiatica", Phytomedicine 2000 Oct; 7(5):427-48
  16. ^ Cataldo, A., Gasbarro, V., et al., "Effectiveness of the Combination of Alpha Tocopherol, Rutin, Melilotus, and Centella asiatica in The Treatment of Patients With Chronic Venous Insufficiency", Minerva Cardioangiology, 2001, Apr; 49(2):159-63
  17. ^ Appa Rao MVR, Srinivas K, Koteshwar Rao T. "The effect of Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica) on the general mental ability (medhya) of mentally retarded children". J. Res Indian Med. 1973;8:9–16.


Up to date as of January 23, 2010

From Wikispecies

Centella asiatica


Classification System: APG II (down to family level)

Main Page
Cladus: Eukaryota
Regnum: Plantae
Cladus: Angiospermae
Cladus: Eudicots
Cladus: core eudicots
Cladus: Asterids
Cladus: Euasterids II
Ordo: Apiales
Familia: Apiaceae
Subfamilia: Mackinlayoideae
Genus: Centella
Species: Centella asiatica


Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.


  • C. F. P. von Martius, Fl. bras. 11(1):287, t. 78. 1879
  • USDA, ARS, National Genetic Resources Program. Germplasm Resources Information Network - (GRIN) [Data from 07-Oct-06]. [1]

Vernacular names

Deutsch: Indischer Wassernabel, Asiatischer Wassernabel, Tigergras, Gotu Kola
English: Asiatic Pennywort, Indian Pennywort
Español: Gotu Kola, Antanan, Pegaga, Brahmi
Français: Gotu kola, Antanan, Pegaga, Brahmi
lea faka-Tonga: tono
Svenska: Sallatsspikblad
Wikimedia Commons For more multimedia, look at Centella asiatica on Wikimedia Commons.


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