Gotu Kola

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Centella asiatica
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Centella asiatica.jpg
Plant Info
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Scientific classification
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
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Order: Apiales
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Superfamily: {{{superfamilia}}}
Family: Apiaceae
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Genus: Centella
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Species: C. asiatica
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Binomial name
Centella asiatica
(L.) Urban
Trinomial name
Type Species

Centella asiatica is a small herbaceous annual plant of the family Apiaceae, the carrot and dill family, native to northern Australia, New Guinea, Melanesia, Malaysia, Iran][1] and other parts of Asia. Common names include Gotu Kola, Asiatic Pennywort, Luei Gong Gen, Antanan, Pegaga, Kula kud and Brahmi (although this last name is shared with Bacopa monnieri and other herbs). It is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine and traditional Chinese medicine. Botanical synonyms include Hydrocotyle asiatica L. and Trisanthus cochinchinensis (Lour.)




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 20 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 acquatic, it is especially sensitive to pollutants in the water, which easily are incorporated into the plant. [1][2]

Culinary Uses

Centella is used as a leafy green in Sri Lankan cuisine. 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 chillies, lime (or lemon) juice, dried fish, curry leaves, and spices such as fried mustard seeds.

Centella leaves are also used in the sweet "pennywort drink."

Medicinal Uses

Pharmacology and Constituents

Two main active constituents 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. Bacoside B is a protein attributed to nourishing the brain cells. 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. Centella appears to act on the various phases of connective tissue development, which are part of the healing process and increases keratinization which allows it to stimulate healing of ulcers, skin injuries, connective tissue and to decrease capillary fragility. Asiaticosides also stimulate the synthesis of lipids and proteins necessary for healthy skin.[3]

  • Calcium (Mineral)
  • Iron (Mineral)
  • Selenium (Mineral)
  • Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin)
  • Beta Carotene (Vitamin)
  • Magnesium (Mineral)
  • Camphor (Essential oil)
  • Betulic Acid (Tripertene)
  • Brahmic Acid (Triterpene)
  • Brahmoside (Saponin)
  • Isobrahmic Acid (Triterpene)
  • Thankuniside (Saponin)
  • Thankunic Acid (Triterpene)
  • Asiaticoside A & B (Saponins)
  • Brahminoside (Saponin)
  • Madecassoside (Saponin)
  • Quercetin (Flavone)



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]

Medicinal uses and Studies

When eaten raw as a salad leaf, pegaga is thought to help maintain youthfulness. In Thailand cups with gotu kola leaves is 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. Interestingly, chewing on the plant for several hours induces entheogenic meditation, similar to the effects of salvia divinorum, although this practice is widely considered dangerous, as it can cause temporomandibular joint pains.

Richard Lucas claimed in a book published 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. [8] However according to master herbalist Michael Moore, it appears that there is no such subspecies and no Vitamin X is known to exist.[9] 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[10].

The isolated steroids from the plant have been used to treat leprosy.[11] [12] In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that it may have nootropic effects. [13] Centella asiatica is used to re-vitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration [14], and combat ageing.[15] Centella asiatica also has anti-oxidant properties.[16] It works for venous insufficiency. [17] It is used in Thailand for opium detoxification.


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 who claimed that Gotu Kola provided him with energy and stamina to satisfy his 50-woman harem.



  3. Lawrence P MillerPhytochemistry, 1978,17:287
  4. Duke database
  5. 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 Medicine by Richard Lucas et al. Prentice Hall, 1979
  9. Michael Moore "Fo ti"
  10. Widgerow, Alan D.; Laurence A. Chait (2000-07). "New Innovations in Scar Management" (abstract). Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (Springer New York) 24 (3): 227-234. ISSN: 0364-216X (Print) 1432-5241 (Online). Retrieved 2007-01-28. 
  11. B. M. Hausen (1993)Centella asiatica (Indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic but a weak sensitizerContact Dermatitis 29 (4), 175–179 doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1993.tb03532.x
  13. 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 Clin Psychopharmacol 2000 Dec;20(6):680-4
  14. 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
  15. 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 Clin Psychopharmacol 2000 Dec;20(6):680-4
  16. Winston, D., Maimes, S., Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, 2007, pp. 226-7
  17. 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 Cardioangiol, 2001, Apr;49(2):159-63
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