Gotu Kola is a Key Ingredient in Javita Coffee

Centella asiatica
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Apiales
Family: Mackinlayaceae
Genus: Centella
Species: C. asiatica
Binomial name
Centella asiatica
(L.) Urban

Hydrocotyle asiatica L.
Trisanthus cochinchinensis Lour.

Centella asiatica, commonly centella (Thankuni in bengali: থানকুনি, Sinhala: ගොටුකොල, gotu kola in Sinhala, Mandukaparni in Sanskrit मधुकपर्णी, Sleuk tracheakkranh in Khmer ស្លឹកត្រចៀកក្រាញ់, Kannada (ಒಂದೆಲಗ). Tamilவல்லாரை, vallarai ? in Tamil, Kodangal in Malayalam(കുടങ്ങല്‍,) is a small, herbaceous, annual plant of the family Mackinlayaceae or subfamily Mackinlayoideae of family Apiaceae, and is native to India, Sri Lanka, northern Australia, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia, Melanesia, Papua New Guinea, and other parts of Asia.[1] It is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. Botanical synonyms include Hydrocotyle asiatica L. and Trisanthus cochinchinensis (Lour.).[2]



Centella asiatica grows in tropical swampy areas.[3] The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish-green in color, connecting plants to each other. 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 2 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.[4]

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.[5] 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 aquatic, it is especially sensitive to pollutants in the water, which are easily incorporated into the plant.

Culinary use[edit]

Bai bua bok served as a refreshing drink in Thailand

Centella asiatica00.jpg

Centella is used as a leafy green in Sri Lankan cuisine, where it is called gotu kola. In Sinhalese, gotu is translated as “conical shape” and kola as “leaf”. It is most often prepared as malluma (මැල්ලුම), a traditional accompaniment to rice and curry, and goes especially well with vegetarian dishes, such as dhal, and jackfruit or pumpkin curry. It is considered quite nutritious. In addition to finely chopped gotu kola, malluma almost always contains grated coconut, and may also contain finely chopped green chilis, chili powder, turmeric powder and lime (or lemon) juice. A variation of the nutritious porridge known as kola kenda is also made with gotu kola by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka. Kola Kenda is made with very well-boiled red rice (with extra liquid), coconut milk and gotu kola, which is pureed. The porridge is accompanied with jaggery for sweetness. Centella leaves are also used in sweet “pennywort” drinks.

In Indonesia, the leaves are used for sambai oi peuga-ga, an Aceh type of salad, and is also mixed into asinan in Bogor.

In Vietnam and Thailand, this leaf is used for preparing a drink or can be eaten in raw form in salads or cold rolls. In Bangkok, vendors in the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market sell it alongside coconut, roselle, crysanthemum, orange and other health drinks.

In Malay cuisine the leaves of this plant are used for ulam, a type of Malay salad.[6]

It is one of the constituents of the Indian summer drink thandaayyee.

In Bangladeshi cuisine mashed Centella is eaten with rice and is popular for its medicinal properties.

Medicinal effects[edit]

Centella is a mild adaptogen, is mildly antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiulcerogenic, anxiolytic, nervine and vulnerary, and can act as a cerebral tonic, a circulatory stimulant, and a diuretic.[7][8]

Centella asiatica may be useful in the treatment of anxiety.[9]

In Thailand, tisanes of the leaves are used as an afternoon stimulant.[10] A decoction of juice from the leaves is thought to relieve hypertension.[citation needed] A poultice of the leaves is also used to treat open sores.

Richard Lucas claimed in a book published in 1966[11](second edition 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.[12]

Several scientific reports have documented Centella asiatica’s ability to aid wound healing[13][14] 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.[15]

The isolated steroids from the plant also have been used to treat leprosy.[16][17] In addition, preliminary evidence suggests that it may have nootropic effects.[8] Centella asiatica is used to revitalize the brain and nervous system, increase attention span and concentration,[18] and combat aging.[8] Centella asiatica also has antioxidant properties.[7] It works for venous insufficiency.[19] It is used in Thailand for opium detoxification. Many reports show the medicinal properties of C. asiatica extract in a wide range of disease conditions, such as diabetic microangiopathy, edema, venous hypertension, and venous insufficiency.[20][full citation needed] The role of C. asiatica extract in the treatment of memory enhancement and other neurodegenerative disorders is also well documented.[21][full citation needed] The first report concerning the antitumor property of C. asiatica extract was on its growth inhibitory effects on the development of solid and ascites tumors, which lead to increased life span of tumor-bearing rats.[22][full citation needed] The authors also suggested the extract directly impeded the DNA synthesis. “In our study, C. asiatica extract showed an obvious dose dependent inhibition of cell proliferation in breast cancer cells.”[23]

Other names[edit]

Other common names include:

  • Brahmi bootiHindi
  • PerookManipuri
  • TangkuantehPaite
  • Sleuk tracheakkranhKhmer ស្លឹកត្រចៀកក្រាញ់
  • 崩大碗 (“chipped big bowl”- Chinese)
  • VallaaraiTamil: வல்லாரை
  • Thankuni pata (Bangladesh)
  • Gotu kolaSinhala (Sri Lanka: ගොටුකොල)
  • Asiatic pennywort
  • Indian pennywort
  • Lei gong gen(雷公根, literally “thunder god’s root”, Chinese)
  • Takip-koholFilipino[24]
  • Antanan
  • Manduki, divya, maha aushadhi – Ayurveda
  • Pegagan
  • Pegaga
  • Kula kud
  • Mying Khwar (Myanmar: ျမင္းခြာ )
  • Bai bua bok (Thai: ใบบัวบก)
  • Brahmi (shared with Bacopa monnieri)[25]
  • Rau má (mother vegetable) – Vietnamese
  • ManimuniAssamese: মানিমুনি
  • Saraswathi plant – Telugu: సరస్వతీ ఆకు
  • Ondelaga – Kannada: ಒಂದೆಲಗ
  • Ekpanni – Konkani: ಒಂದೆಲಗ
  • Timare – tulu:
  • Kudakan or kudangal – Mayalam: കുടക‍‍൯ / കുടങ്ങല്
  • Yahong yahong (Philippines)
  • 병풀 – Korean

In India, it is popularly known by a variety of names: bemgsag, brahma manduki, brahmanduki, brahmi, ondelaga or ekpanni (south India, west India), sarswathi aku (Andhra Pradesh), gotu kola, khulakhudi, mandukparni, mandookaparni, or thankuni (Bengal), depending on region. North Bacopa monnieri is the more widely known Brahmi; both have some common therapeutic properties in Vedic texts and are used for improving memory. C. asiatica is called brahmi particularly in north India,[25][26] although that may be a case of mistaken identity introduced during the 16th century, when brahmi was confused with mandukaparni, a name for C. asiatica.[27]

Probably the earliest study of mandookaparni as medya rasayana (improving the mental ability) was carried out at the Dr. A. Lakshmipathy Research Centre (now under CCRAS)[28]


Gotu kola is a minor feature in the longevity tradition of the T’ai chi ch’uan master Li Ching-Yuen. He purportedly lived to be 197 or 256, due in part to his usage of traditional Chinese herbs, including gotu kola.


  1. ^ United States Department of Agriculture. “Plant Profile for Centella asiatica”. Retrieved 15 July 2012 (Use Native Status Link on Page). 
  2. ^ “Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all.”. Indian J Pharm Sci: 546–56. September 2010. 
  3. ^ Meschino Health. “Comprehensive Guide to Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica)”. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  4. ^ “Leaf Extract Treatment During the Growth Spurt Period Enhances Hippocampal CA3 Neuronal Dendritic Arborization in Rats”. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med: 349–57. September 2006. 
  5. ^ Floridata. “Centella asiatica”. Retrieved 15 July 2012. 
  6. ^ “Nasi ulam”. Retrieved 2009-05-07. 
  7. ^ a b Winston, D., Maimes, S., Adaptogens: Herbs For Strength, Stamina, and Stress Relief, 2007, pp. 226-7
  8. ^ a b c Bradwejn, J.; Zhou, Y.; Koszycki, D.; Shlik, J. (2000). “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. PMID 11106141.  edit
  9. ^ A clinical study on the management of generalized anxiety disorder with Centella asiatica U Jana, 1 TK Sur, 2 LN Maity, 3 PK Debnath 4 and D Bhattacharyya Nepal Med Coll J 2010; 12(1): 8-1
  10. ^ Herbal Ed Smith
  11. ^ Natures Medicines by Richard Lucas,Publisher: Wilshire Book Co., 1966
  12. ^ Natures Medicine by Richard Lucas et al. Prentice Hall, 1979
  13. ^ Ital J Biochem. 1988 Mar-Apr;37(2):69-77. Effect of the triterpenoid fraction of Centella asiatica on macromolecules of the connective matrix in human skin fibroblast cultures. Tenni R, Zanaboni G, De Agostini MP, Rossi A, Bendotti C, Cetta G.
  14. ^ Shukla, A.; Rasik, A. M.; Jain, G. K.; Shankar, R.; Kulshrestha, D. K.; Dhawan, B. N. (1999). “In vitro and in vivo wound healing activity of asiaticoside isolated from Centella asiatica”. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 65 (1): 1–11. doi:10.1016/S0378-8741(98)00141-X. PMID 10350364. 
  15. ^ Widgerow, Alan D.; Laurence A. Chait (July 2000). “New Innovations in Scar Management”. Aesthetic Plastic Surgery (abstract) (Springer New York) 24 (3): 227–234. doi:10.1007/s002660010038. PMID 10890953. 
  16. ^ Hausen, B. M. (1993). “Centella asiatica (Indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic but a weak sensitizer”. Contact Dermatitis 29 (4): 175–179. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.1993.tb03532.x. PMID 8281778. 
  17. ^ Centella asiatica Herbal Extracts, Centella asiatica Natural Herbal Extracts Co2 Herb Extract
  18. ^ 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
  19. ^ 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 Cardioangiology, 2001, Apr; 49(2):159-63
  20. ^ Incandela et al., 2001a; Incandela et al., 2001b; Incandela et al., 2001c)
  21. ^ (Mohandas Rao et al., 2006)
  22. ^ (Babu et al., 1995)
  23. ^ Babykutty, S.; Padikkala, J.; Sathiadevan, P. P.; Vijayakurup, V.; Azis, T. K.; Srinivas, P.; Gopala, S. (2008). “Apoptosis induction of Centella asiatica on human breast cancer cells”. African journal of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines : AJTCAM / African Networks on Ethnomedicines 6 (1): 9–16. PMC 2816528. PMID 20162036. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ a b Daniel, M. (2005). Medicinal plants: chemistry and properties. Science Publishers. p. 225. ISBN 978-1-57808-395-4. 
  26. ^ “In north India, however, brāhmī is commonly identified as Centella asiatica (Linn.) Urban, which in Malayalam is known as muttil. It seems that this identification of brāhmī as C. asiatica has been in use for long in northern India, as Hēmādri’s ‘Commentary on Aṣṭāṅgahṛdayaṃ (Āyuṛvēdarasāyanaṃ) treats maṇḍūkapaṛṇī (C. asiatica) as a synonym of brahmi.” Warrier, P K; V P K Nambiar, C Ramankutty, V.P.K. & Ramankutty, R Vasudevan Nair (1996). Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 Specie. Orient Blackswan. p. 238. ISBN 978-81-250-0301-4. 
  27. ^ Khare, C. P. (2003). Indian Herbal Remedies: Rational Western Therapy, Ayurvedic, and Other Traditional Usage, Botany. Springer. p. 89. ISBN 978-3-540-01026-5. 
  28. ^ Appa Rao MVR, Srinivas K, Koteshwar Rao T. “The effect of Mandookaparni (Centella asiatica) on the general mental ability (medhya) of mentally retarded children”. J. Res Indian Med. 1973;8:9–16.

External links[edit]

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article Gotu Kola, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.