Botanical Name: Centella asiatica, commonly known as centella, Asiatic pennywort or Indian pennywort.
It is a herbaceous, frost-tender perennial plant in the flowering plant, that grows in wetlands. It is used as a culinary vegetable and as medicinal herb. The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in color, connecting plants to each other. The flowers are white or pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. The crop matures in three months, and the whole plant, including the roots, is harvested manually.
In traditional herbal medicine, C. asiatica has been used in an attempt to treat varicose veins, chronic venous insufficiency, psoriasis, minor wounds, strangury, and to encourage lactation.
Centella is a nervine tonic that enhances learning, academic performance and improves mental ability. It acts as an anti-anxiety agent and is used to treat several mental disorders. It also calms restlessness in children. It is used as a nootropic, a drug that enhances cognitive ability.
In the context of phytoremediation, C. asiatica is a potential phytoextraction tool owing to its ability to take up and translocate metals from root to shoot when grown in heavy-metal-contaminated soil.
Used in Ayurveda for centuries, Centella supports the normal function of the mind, intellect, consciousness and good spirit.
The herb contains the alkaloids brahmine, herpestine and a mixture of three bases. The herb also contains the saponins, hersaponin and bacosides A and B. Bacosides A and B possess haemolytic activity. Hersaponin has cardiotonic and sedative properties.
Key therapeutic benefits:
- Centella promotes intelligence, particularly the power of retention. It relieves nervous irritation or agitation. It is used traditionally for enhancing memory and for treating psychosis, epilepsy and anxiety.
- Centella can elevate the level of cerebral glutamic acid and temporarily increase the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) level in the brain. It is believed that the endogenous increase in brain glutamine may be helpful in the learning process.