Gotu kola— also
known as Centella asiatica, Indian pennywort—has been used for
centuries as a medicinal herb, as far back as 3000 years ago in Indian
Ayurvedic medicine, 2000 years ago in Chinese medicine, in the late
1800s in French pharmacopoeia. Contrary to its name, it contains no
cola or caffeine.
Takip-kohol is a prostrate,
creeping, sparingly hairy or nearly smooth perennial herb, with delicate and slender stems
rooting at the nodes. Leaves are rounded to reniform, 2 to 5 centimeters wide, horizontal, more
or less cupped, rounded at the tip, and kidney-shaped or heart-shaped
at the base, palmately veined, margins undulate-crenate, the rounded
lobes often overlapping. Petioles are erect, 3 to 20 centimeters long. Flowers are dark-purple, axillary, ovate, and about 1 centimeter long. Peduncles
occur in pairs or threes, less than 1 centimeter long and usually bear 3 sessile
flowers. Fruits are minute, ovoid, white or green, and reticulate, each
with 9 subsimilar longitudinal ridges. Carpels are five, cylindric compressed, about 2.5 millimeter long, white or
green, reticulate. Ovary is inferior. Stamens are 5, epigynous.
- Found in gardens,
thickets, and open, damp grasslands, on rice paddy banks and streams
throughout the Philippines.
• Leaves yield vellarine (1% in dry plant), an oily, non-volatile liquid, responsible for the odor, and considered to be the chemically active principle of the plant.
• Analysis has described vellarine as an inspissated oil of pale yellowish color, with a bitter, pungent, and persistent taste, with a marked odor of hydrocotyle, subject to variations of heat, humidity, and atmosphere.
• Chemical analysis of the plant shows the presence of vellarine,
high vitamin B content in the leaves and roots, and a miscellany of
other constituents such as carbohydrates, resins, proteins, ash, alkali,
alkaline salts, phosphates, and tannins. The vellarine is obtained principally from the roots.
• Phytochemical studies have shown triterpenoid glycosides, phytosterols, amino acids, free acids,
volatile oils and flavonoids.
• Analysis has reported chemical composition as: Resinous and oil substances, 8.9%; tannic acid and sugar, 24.5%; mucilage and extractive, 11.5%; pectin and albuminous matter, 12.5%, ash, mostly as alkaline chlorides, 12.0%.
• Triterpenoid saponins include asiaticoside, centelloside, madecassoside and asiatic acid.
• Leaves are considered tonic, diuretic, emmenagogue, and stimulant.
• Plant has blood pressure-lowering effect.
Rich in Vitamin B, it can be eaten as
a salad or vegetable dish.
· In the Philippines, sap of leaves used as curative for sclerotic wounds.
· Decoction of leaves used as diuretic and considered useful for gonorrhea.
· Useful in the treatment of chronic and obstinate eczema. Also prescribed for secondary and tertiary syphilis accompanied by gummatous infiltration and ulceration, in chronic and callous ulcers, as a stimulant in infantile diarrhea and eczema and abscess, and in chronic rheumatism.
· Leaves are toasted and given as infusion in bowel complaints and fevers of children. Also applied as anti-inflammatory to areas of blows and bruises.
· Seeds used for dysentery, fever, and headache.
· Infectious hepatitis,
measles, respiratory tract infections - colds, tonsillitis, laryngopharyngitis,
· Fresh material: 60 to 260 gms, dried material: 30 to 60 gms:
Take in form of decoction.
· Counterirritant: Pound fresh leaves, mix with vaseline or oil
and apply over affected area as poultice.
· Wounds and sore: The sap of the leaves
is used on wounds and skin sores.
Also, on chaps, scratches and superficial burns.
· In many folkloric systems, used for tuberculosis, syphilis,
dysentery, hypertension, venous extremity problems and common cold.
· In India and Fiji,
roots used for skin inflammation, to improve blood circulation, to treat
bloating, congestion and depression.
· Also considered to be a brain and memory stimulant, used for
Alzheimer's disease and senility.
· In Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine, used for depression and anxiety.
· In Sri Lanka and Madagascar,
used for a variety of mental and neurological problems.
· In India and Africa,
used for leprosy, hypertension and cancer.
· Worldwide, herb believed to improve memory and enhance concentration.
TECA, the titrated extract of Centella asiatica is a reconstituted mixture of three triterpenes extracted from the plant. Used extensive in Europe as a wound healing drug, it has been shown to stimulate collagen synthesis and increase tissue tensile strength. It has been found successful in the treatment of burns, scars and wound healing defects.
Rat studies have shown decrease in locomotor activity, enhanced maze
performance and attenuated started response. This placebo- controlled
study suggest Gotu Kola has anxiolytic activity in humans as shown by
the ASR (acoustic startle response).
• Bactericidal / Enteric Pathogens:
In vitro study on the effect of CA on enteric pathogens. The alcohol
extract was bactericidal against V cholera, Shigella spp, and Staph
aureus and suggests further studies in its potential as an antidiarrheal
• Wound Healing:
Study on albino rats showed the leaf extract of CA significantly promoted
wound healing and was able to overcome the wound-healing suppression
of dexamethasone. (3)
• Antioxidant: Study
showed CA extract and power may ameliorate H202-induced oxidative stress
by decreasing lipid peroxidation. (4)
Study revealed immunomodulatory activity of C asiatica and R nasutus
extracts in both non-specific cellular and humoral immune responses.
Results suggest a chemoproventive or anticancer potential. (6)
• Nerve Regeneration:
Study indicates components in CA ethanolic extract may be beneficial
for accelerating repair of damaged neurons. In a rat study, centella extract in the drinking water hastened recovery after nerve damage, with increased axonal regeneration and accelerated functional recovery. (8)
• Gastroprotecftive / Anti-Ulcer:
Fresh juice extract of gotu kola has shown protection against aspirin- and ethanol-induced gastric ulcers with increased gastric mucin secretion and mucosal cell glycoprotein production.
• Scleroderma: Single
study found gotu kola decreased joint pain and skin hardening and improved
finger movement. (19)
Healing : Study results indicate that the combined use
of extracts of CA and P granatum pericarp significantly reduced the
clinical signs of chronic periodontitis. (9)
Crude extract of leaves of CA showed larvicidal and adult emergence
inhibition against mosquito Cules quinquefasciatus, possibly through
various biologically active compounds–phenolics, terpenoids and
• Keloid and Scar Management:
Oral and topical use have reported benefits on wound and scar management with relief of symptoms, disappearance of inflammation and hastening of scar maturity.
• Economy Class Microangiopathy:
A study on airline flight microangiopathy showed significant improvements in microcirculatory function in those utilizing TTFCA (triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica) with edema and rate of ankle swelling approaching normal values.
• Carotid Artery Plaques:
A study on patients taking anti-aggregating medications showed a significant decrease in plaque echolucency in those on TTFCA.
• Diabetic Microangiopathy:
Diabetes is characterized by blood pooling from decreased venous return and increased skin blood flow. A trial of TTFCA showed a significant reduction in skin blood flow compared to baseline values.
• Venous Insufficiency:
In a study of 96 patients with venous insufficiency, use of a TECA (triterpenoid extract of C asiatica demonstrated significant clinical improvements in limb heaviness, edema, and venous distention. In a study of 40 patients with severe venous hypertension, a trial of the herbal extract showed a decrease in skin flux and rate of ankle swelling, with improvement in edema, restless limbs and change in skin color.
Study demonstrated the antimicrobial activity of Centella asiatica against enterophathogens. Broad spectrum activity of the herb was observed against a range of enteric pathogens. Against V cholera, Shigella species and S aureus, the alcoholic extract was bactericidal within 2 hr. (12)
• Cognitive Effects:
Study findings suggest the potential for Centella asiatica to attenuate age-related decline in cognitive functions in healthy middle age and elderly adults. The mechanism/s underlying these effects require further investigation.(13)
• Anti-Convulsant / Neuroprotective:
Study results showed the extracts of C asiatic, except the aqueous extract, possess anticonvulsant and neuroprotective activity and suggest a use in the management of epileptic seizures. (14)
Crude water extract of Asiatic Pennywort, particularly extracted with water, showed promising antibacterial effect against Staphylococcus aureus. (16)
• Antioxidant / Lipid Effects / Safety :
Study in rats showed no toxic effects to the heart, liver and kidney on long term consumption of C asiatica extract. Results also showed CA extract and powder may ameliorate H2O2-induced oxidative stress by increasing HDL concentration, decreasing TG, LDL, lipid peroxidation. Effects are attributed to antioxidant components and polyphenols substances present. (17)
• Anxiolytic / Double-Blind Placebo-Controlled Study:
A double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluated the anxiolytic activity of Gotu kola in healthy subjects. Compared with placebo, Gotu kola significantly attenuated acute acoustic response. GK has anxiolytic activity in humans. It remains to be seen whether it has efficacy for use in anxiety syndromes. (20)
• Improvement of Behavioral Deficits / Alzheimer's Model:
Study evaluated the use of Centella asiatica herb to enhance memory and nerve function. A water extract of CA in a murine model of Alzheimer's disease with high ß-amyloid burden. There was attenuation of ß-amyloid associated behavioral abnormalities in the mouse murine model of AD. The combination of in vitro and animal studies support the C. asiatica potential for clinical benefit in Alzheimer's disease. (21)
• Neuritogenic Effect / Human Neuroblastoma Cells:
Study showed neurite outgrowth promoting activity of Eca 233. Besides the in vivo neuroprotective effect of ECa 233, study supports further development of ECa 233 for clinical use in neuronal injury or neurodegenerative diseases. (22)
• Phagocytosis Effect / Human Neutrophils / Cell-Mediated Immune System Stimulation:
Study investigated the effect of an ethanol extract of leaves on neutrophil phagocytic function. CA extract stimulated chemotactic, phagocytic, and intracellular killing potency of human neutrophils. Results showed Ca stimulates cell-mediated immune system by increasing neutrophil phagocytic function. (23)
Alcoholic extracts have shown no toxicity in rats.
Patients have reported GI upsets and nausea as adverse effects. Rashes have been reported with topical use. Few cases of liver enzyme elevations resolved on discontinuation of the herb use.
Tinctures, capsules, extracts in the cybermarket.