Gotu kola, asiatic pennywort, centella asiatica, ayurveda herbal medicine.
Centella. Copyright: cokemomo / 123RF Stock Photo

Centella, (Centella asiatica L. Family: Umbelliferae) is a small, herbaceous annual plant that is widely grown throughout Asia and consumed mostly in Thailand and India. We also know it by another popular name of gotu kola. The aerial parts rather than the roots are the key sources of any functional medicine. The plant is a true weed of canals, ditches and waterways with running water although it has considerable tolerance to pollution. Fortunately, its habitat of choice makes it easy to harvest and its use has grown immeasurably. Naturally, it has been the  focus of a great deal of pharmaceutical interest.

It is part of the Ayurvedic and traditional chinese medicine system. It is a common extract in personal care and cosmetic products which rely on improving the skin.


It is a rich source of many bioactive compounds including phenolics such as  asiatic acid, asiaticoside, brahmoside, brahmic acid, brahminoside, centelloside, centic acid, cenellic acid madecassic acid, madecassoside, thankiniside, isothankunisode, madasiatic acid. The main vitamins present are vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C and niacin.

Medicinal Properties

It is claimed to have a huge range of health benefits and studying the traditional texts hint that anything might be treated. In general terms many of its benefits  include anti-inflammatory, wound healing and memory-enhancing properties according to a major review by Seevaratnam et al., (2012) but the phenolics are generally sensitive to heat and oxygen (Niamnuy et al., 2013).

In the traditional medicine systems it is used to treat a vast variety of conditions and diseases. These include many viral, parasitic and bacterial infections. For example, urinary tract infection, cholera, leprosy, shingles, syphilis, dysentery, influenza, common cold, tuberculosis, schistosomiasis and so on. It can also treat a variety of skin complaints including wound healing a and scar reduction. Some claim it reduces pregnancy stretch marks.

Gotu kola (centella) is also a  treatment for various mental health issues associated with anxiety and fatigue, depression as well its memory-enhancing benefits. It has also been used to treat jaundice, ulcers of various types, asthma, diabetes and sunstroke. A number of blood flow related conditions are claimed to be improved along with trauma. We know that women take it to improve sexual desire but also prevent pregnancy and turn round the menstrual cycle. 

Many more of these conditions are covered on the WebMD web-site.

The Biochemistry Of Action

The main componentry seems to reduce inflammation which may explain many of its general healing properties. Some of the compounds help to reduce blood pressure mainly by improving vasodilation. There is also stimulation of collagen synthesis which explains its general skin healing benefits.

Generally, there is still plenty to understand about the compounds contained within the plant extract.


Niamnuy, C., Charoenchaitrakool, M., Mayachiew, P., Devahastin, S. (2013). Bioactive compounds and bioactivities of Centella asiatica (L.) Urban prepared by different drying methods and conditions. Drying Technology, 31, pp. 2007–2015.

Seevaratnam, V., Banumathi, P., Premalatha, M.R., Sundaram, S.P., Arumugam, T. (2012). Functional properties of Centella asiatica (L.): a review. Int. J. of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, 4, pp. 8–14. 

Xu, Y., Cao, Z., Khan, I., & Luo, Y. (2008). Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) extract enhances phosphorylation of cyclic AMP response element binding protein in neuroblastoma cells expressing amyloid beta peptide. Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease13(3), pp. 341-349 https://content.iospress.com/articles/journal-of-alzheimers-disease/jad00806

Revised 07/02/2019 with further additions of treatments and names.

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  1. I have been suffering severe acne for quite a few years and I’ve tried numerous acne products. Very few seem to work until I came across the acne scar video from Wishtrend which uses Centella in a cream. I had some doubts but it but I still purchased it…. I’m so glad I made my choice because I think this is going stick with me for the rest of my life! It helps my breakouts DRAMATICALLY and it works SOOOOOOOOOO well on cystic acne, usually if I get cystic acne it takes a week or so to go away but as soon I apply this magical stuff it gets SO MUCH BETTER the next day. Overall I think this product really helped me cuz before I used this product I could get aroung 2-4 pimples PER DAY!!! I only get around 1 every week. Seriously I CANT LIVE WITHOUT THIS!!! I already finished my first jar and I just repurchased 2 more! I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THIS TO PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM ACNE SCARS AND ACNE. YOU WONT BE DISSAPOINTED!

  2. I’ve been using Gotu Kola for a number of years as a way of reducing my blood pressure. It seems a bit of quackery but I’ve researched this particular herb for many years and there are certain chemicals in it which I think the pharma industry overlooked. Asiaticoside is one of those which needs to be mentioned because I looked at his compound years ago for a business because of its wound healing. We even got as far as encapsulating it for use in plasters and stitches. I’d love to discuss this further with you buit I’m also going to write an article for FoodWrite as it deserves to be better known.


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