Centella asiatica is known as Brahma-manduki, Mandukaparni in Sanskrit, and Brahmi in Hindi. Nowadays it is commonly known as Gotu Kola. It is a medicinal plant found in marshy places throughout India up to 600 meters. For the medicinal purpose the leaves of the plant are used.
This herb is a tonic for the brain. Traditionally it is used for treating brain disorders, skin diseases, neural disorders, and insomnia due to its adaptogen, central nervous system relaxant, sedative, antibiotic, detoxifier, blood-purifier, laxative, diuretic, emmenagogue properties.
It reduces tension, stress, anxiety, and sleeplessness due to its sedative, tranquilizing, and relaxant activities. Mandukaparni is used in Ayurveda, for improving memory, intelligence, and speech. The intake of herb overcomes mental confusion, and supports better thinking.
It is known as Vallarai in Tamil, and widely used as leafy vegetable in Tamil Nadu-Karnataka region. It is an important herb as described by Ramalinga Vallalar “Vallarai vella Vallarayai Ninai”. The leaves, after removing the petiole, are made into pickles or included in dhal preparations (sambar), and is commonly used within the traditional communities. The leaves are used in chutney, salads, and with buttermilk. 1-2 fresh green leaves are chewed by children in the morning on an empty stomach to improve memory. Externally, the herb is applied to rheumatic joints.
In Unani, it is generally used in the treatment of the skin diseases, leprosy, and syphilis. The leaves are given to improve memory. The plant is used both internally, and externally for medicinal purpose.
Mandukaparni is a soft herb found all over India near marshy areas. Its leaves have shape, and appearance like a webbed feet of frog (Mandook= frog, and Parni=leaf). It is a creeper plant with roots on the nodes of branches. The new roots from the internodes enter the soil to generate a new plant. Thus it spreads on the available soil. The margin of leaves is toothed, and flowers are whistish-pinkish. It bear small fruits.
The botanical name of Mandukaparni is Centella asiatica. Its synonym is Hydrocotyle asiatica. It belongs to plant family Apiaceae / Umbelliferae. Below is given taxonomical classification of the plant.
- Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
- Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
- Superdivision: Spermatophyta – Seed plants
- Division: Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
- Class: Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
- Subclass: Rosidae
- Order: Apiales
- Family: Apiaceae ⁄ Umbelliferae – Carrot family
- Genus: Centella L. – centella
- Species: Centella asiatica (L.) Urb. – spade leaf
Another plant which is known as Brahmi is Bacopa monnieri (Thyme-leaved Gratiola in English), belonging to plant family Scrophulariaceae. Both the plants are creeper, found in wet lands, and are used as a brain Tonic, and for treating brain disorders, and improving intellect. This could be reason why both are named Brahmi.
- Part(s) used for medicinal purpose: Leaf/Whole Plant
- Plant type: herb
- Habitat: In marshy places throughout India up to 600 m.
- Origin: Native to India, and found in Sri Lanka, south China, and southwest Asia.
- Latin name: Centella asiatica
- Ayurvedic: Manduukaparni, Mandukaparni, Manduki Saraswati, Brahma-manduuki, Kapotabanka,
- Siddha: Vallaarai
- Assamese: Manimuni
- Bengali: Jholkhuri, Thalkuri, Thankuni
- English: Gotu kola, Asiatic Pennywort, Indian Pennywort
- Gujrati: Khodabrahmi, Khadbhrammi
- Hindi: Brahma Manduki, Brahmi, Brahma-Buti
- Kannada: Ondelaga, Brahmi soppu
- Malayalam: Kodangal
- Marathi: Karivana
- Punjabi: Brahmi
- Tamil: Vallarai
- Telugu: Saraswati Aku, Vauari
- Urdu: Brahmi
Ayurvedic Properties, and Action
Mandukparni is used in Ayurveda as is Medhya Rasayana, and works on mind for the improvement of intellect. It is also indicated in swelling, low appetite, fever, skin diseases, bleeding disorders, urinary disorders, asthma, anemia, and diseases due to vitiation of blood.
- Rasa (taste on the tongue): Kasaya (Astringent), Madhura (Sweet), Katu (Pungent), Tikta (Bitter)
- Guna (Pharmacological Action): Laghu (Light), Sara (Unstable)
- Virya: Sita (Cooling)
- Vipaka (transformed state after digestion): Madhura (Sweet)
- Karma: Balya, Dipana, Hridya, Medhya, Varnya, Vishaghna, Svarya, Rasayana, Ayushya, Smritiprada
- Therapeutic uses: Shotha, Aruchi, Jvara, Kasa, Kandu, Kushtha, Pra Raktapitta, Meha, Svasha, Pandu, Raktadosha.
Few adverse effects may occur in certain cases on internal use. As an antidote to side effects of Gotu kola, dried coriander is prescribed in Ayurveda.
Medicinal Properties of Gotu Kola
Constituents of Mandukaparni
Mandukaparni contains triterpenoid saponins—brahmoside, thankuniside, alkaloids (hydrocotyline), bitter principles (vellarin), and asiaticoside. It contains not less than 0.5 percent of asiaticoside, calculated on the dried basis.
Asiaticoside, shows beneficial effects in leprosy, and skin diseases. It reduced the number tubercular lesions in the liver, lungs, nerve ganglia, and spleen in experimental animals. It seems to elevate blood glucose, triglycerides, and cholesterol levels, and to decrease blood urea nitrogen, and acid phosphatase levels.
Brahmoside, is reported to exhibit tranquilizing, and anabolic activity.
Gotu Kola is rich in medicinal properties. The understanding of these properties will help us to better utilize this herb. These also indicate the conditions in which we should avoid it. For example, it has anti-fertility, spermicide, and emmenagogue (period stimulating) properties.
Below is given medicinal properties along with the meaning.
- Adaptogen: help the body adapt to stress.
- Analgesic: relieve pain.
- Angiogenic: helps formation of new blood vessels.
- Anticonvulsant: prevents or relieves convulsions.
- Antidepressant: alleviate depression.
- Antifertility: reduces fertility.
- Anti–inflammatory: Reducing inflammation by acting on body mechanisms.
- Antipyretic/antifebrile/febrifuge: Effective against fever.
- Antirheumatic: alleviating or preventing rheumatism.
- Antistress: reduces stress.
- Antitumor / anticancer: preventing or inhibiting the formation or growth of tumors.
- Antiulcer: tending to prevent or heal ulcers.
- Diuretic: Promoting excretion of urine/agent that increases the amount of urine excreted.
- Depurative: Purifying agent.
- Emmenagogue: stimulate blood flow in the pelvic area, and uterus, some stimulate menstruation.
- Immunomodulatory: modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system.
- Nervine: used to calm the nerves.
- Restorative: ability to restore health, strength, or well-being.
- Sedative: promoting calm or inducing sleep.
- Spermicide: kills spermatozoa.
- Tranquilizer: reduce tension or anxiety.
- Tonic: Restore or improve health or well-being.
Health Benefits of Gotu Kola
Gotu Kola offers numerous health benefits. It is a bitter, cooling herb. It is the main herb for the brain, and nervous system. It promotes memory, cognitive function, focus, and voice. It induces sound sleep. Gotu kola reduces swelling, improves circulation, and supports better wound healing.
Gotu Kola is available in market as powder, extract, and capsules.
- It is a brain Tonic, improves memory, and strengthen the brain.
- It is reputed to improve the power of speech, and poetic imagination.
- It is useful remedy for mentally retarded, and emotionally disturbed children.
- It reduces stress, insomnia, ADHD, depression, mental fatigue, and anxiety.
- Regular intake of the leaves in a limited quantity strengthen the nerves.
- The plant paste, and juice are effective in mental weakness, and skin diseases.
- The leaves has immunomodulator properties. Immunomodulator modifies the immune response or the functioning of the immune system (as by the stimulation of antibody formation or the inhibition of white blood cell activity).
- The juice of the plant shows good result in scrofula, and syphilis.
- The fresh juice significantly inhibits gastric ulceration. The juice has protective effect against alcohol- induced, and aspirin-induced ulcers.
- It detoxifies the liver, and blood.
- It improves energy levels, and strengthens the kidneys.
- It has diuretic properties, and increases passing of urine.
- It improves blood flow.
- It balances Vata, and Pitta.
- It is found to reduce feelings of heaviness in the lower legs, numbness, night time cramps, swellings, spider veins, and skin ulcers.
- It helps with Alzheimer’s, acne, urticaria, eczema, arthritis, gout, wounds, cirrhosis of the liver, periodontal disease, peripheral vascular disease, scleroderma, vascular fragility, and inflammation.
Medicinal Uses of Mandookparni
Mandookparni / Gotu Kola is an important medicinal herb. It is a tonic for the brain, and used in the treatment of a variety of disorders. It has cooling, sedative, and relaxing effect. The tea prepared from Gotu kola induces sleep, and gives relief in insomnia. Below is given few home remedies that can be done at home using Gotu Kola fresh leaves or powder.
Make a paste of 3 gram leaves. Add Black pepper powder, and take.
2. Appetizer, Hyperacidity
Few fresh leaves (5-10) of the plant are chewed daily in the morning for one month.
3. Dysuria, burning urination, painful urination
Make a paste of Gotu kola, and Bhui Amla leaves. Take this is dose of 1/4 teaspoon with Dahi / curd or Chachh / buttermilk.
4. Improving brain power, memory, intelligence
- Prepare a medicated ghee by boiling the fresh juice of herb in equal amount ghee. Daily eat one teaspoon as a brain tonic.
- Chew few leaves in the morning empty stomach.
- Take dried powder in a dose of 3-6 gram.
5. Insomnia, Chicken pox
- Take dried powder in a dose of 3-6 gram.
- Extract 5-10 ml juice of fresh leaves of Gotu Kola, and mix it in one cup milk, and drink before going to bed.
6. Hair loss, premature hair graying, hair care, massaging scalp for sleeplessness, stress, and headache
Extract juice of Gotu kola leaves. Mix with an equal amount of coconut oil. Boil the mixture till all the water is evaporated. Filter, and store in bottle to use as a hair oil.
Contraindications, Interactions, and Side Effects of Gotu Kola
- It should not be given to people suffering from epilepsy, particularly children.
- It is better to avoid in pregnancy.
- It affects the menstrual cycle (emmenagogue).
- It may also lead to itching, and redness of the skin. Dermatosis, pruritus has been reported in some patients.
- Hazards and/or side effects not known for proper therapeutic dosages.
- Always take in recommended amount.
- Excess intake may lead to problems such as headache, intoxication, hallucination, and giddiness.
- May interact with other blood pressure, cholesterol, and depression medications.