Centella asiatica – Gotu Kola (plant)
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Centella asiatica is found in most tropical and subtropical countries growing in swampy areas, including parts of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, South pacific and Eastern Europe. The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in colour, connecting plants to each other. It has long-stalked, green, rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 2cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically.
Centella asiatica is widely used as a blood purifier as well as for treating high blood pressure, for memory enhancement and promoting longevity. In Ayurveda, C. asiatica is one of the main herbs for revitalising the nerves and brain cells. Eastern healers relied on C. asiatica to treat emotional disorders, such as depression, that were thought to be rooted in physical problems. Asian C. asiatica increases the cerebral levels of GABA which explains its traditional use as anxiolytic and anticonvulsant. There have been no reports documenting negative interactions between C. asiatica and medications to date. Since high doses of C. asiatica can cause sedation, it was warned that individuals should refrain from taking this herb with medications that promote sleep or reduce anxiety. C. asiatica has no known toxicity in recommended doses. Side effects are rare but may include skin allergy and burning sensations (with external use), headache, stomach upset, nausea, dizziness, and extreme drowsiness which tend to occur with high doses of the herb. The fresh plant may have a low potential for skin irritation. The use of C. asiatica for more than 6 weeks is not recommended in the literature. People taking the herb for an extended period of time (up to 6 weeks) should take a 2-week break before taking the herb again. A typical daily dose of C. asiatica reported was approximately 600 mg of dried leaves or infusion, single-dose capsules (300 mg to 680 mg, thrice daily), a 10-mg concentrated extract, also available in capsules. (From Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all.
Centella asiatica contains pentacyclic triterpenoids, including asiaticoside, brahmoside, asiuyatic acid, and brahmic acid (madecassic acid). Other constituents include centellose, centelloside, and madecassoside. (From Wikipedia).
Can be used as a salad herb.
Care and Cultivation of Centella asiatica
Centella asiatica plants prefers a wetland situation, such as on the edge of a pond or dam. They can also be kept well in a pot, but tend to send out runners so make sure you give a wide pot as opposed to a deep one. Fertilise regularly throughout the year.
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