Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Sritama Dutta (Medical Science) on 16th Oct 2020
You Will Fall in Love with Centella Asiatica! Here's why
Mother Nature has quite a few incredible ingredients in store for us. Each of them has qualities beyond amazement. One such element is an oriental medicinal herb, the Centella Asiatica.
Centella Asiatica has been used in medicines, for skincare, and even in foods for ages. Due to its unique properties, it has become a highly celebrated component in the modern cosmetic industry. You have probably read this name in your moisturizer or face sheet mask.
Not sure what Centella Asiatica is or what effect it can have?
We are here to take you on a short tour to explore this Asian perennial herb's tremendous potentialities. In this article, we will discuss everything you would want to know about Centella Asiatica, its uses and benefits, and its potential side effects, if any.
What is Centella Asiatica?
Centella Asiatica or Indian Pennywort is a perennial medicinal herb originating in Asian countries. This load-bearing, slender-stemmed, green plant grows in tropical or temperature swamps. It has numerous names in various regions, like Brahmi, Gotu Kola, and Tiger Grass.
Did You Know?
It's a legend that after tigers get injured in combat, they've been seen to roll their bodies on Centella Asiatica beds. It helps soothe and heal their wounds. It is why Centella Asiatica is also named Tiger Grass.
Centella Asiatica contains many triterpenoids, including asiaticoside, Brahmoside, Asiatic acid, and Abrahamic acid. It has been used from ancient times to treat various disorders and minor injuries.
Whether consumed orally or applied topically, it has shown a significant impact on human health.
Let's find out what different beneficial properties Centella Asiatica has.
Uses of Centella Asiatica :
This herb has been claimed to possess numerous medicinal properties. From boosting your brain to healing wounds, Centella Asiatica has many benefits.
The extracts of this essential herb have also been found to have a calming effect on inflammation, improve circulation, synthesize collagen, and promote new cells' growth. Keep scrolling to know how it can improve your physical and psychological well-being.
Did You Know?
History tells us that Centella Asiatica has been in active use since the 17th Century in African, Indian, French, Javan, and Sri Lankan civilizations as a culinary and medicinal ingredient. In some scriptures, it is referred to as the"Herb of Longevity" and is accredited for increasing life span.
1. It improves your cognitive functions
It has been found that Centella Asiatica extract, along with folic acid, has a very positive impact on brain activity and boosts cognitive functions. It improves your memory power. In a study on patients with vascular cognitive impairment due to stroke, Centella Asiatica demonstrated improvement in their overall cognition.
2. It can treat Alzheimer's disease
The brain activity boosting the property of Centella Asiatica also has a potential effect on the treatment of Alzheimer's disease. Though there has not been enough study on the impact of Centella Asiatica on human brains, a study done on mice with Alzheimer's disease showed it has a positive effect on their behavior. It might influence the plaque associated with Alzheimer's and can also protect the brain cells.
3. It helps in relieving anxiety and works as a potent Antidepressant.
A study done on 72-hours sleep-deprived mice in 2016 demonstrated that Centella Asiatica along with nitric oxide could have an anti-anxiety effect. It reduces the risk of oxidative damage and improves locomotor action that happens due to sleep deprivation. Another study done with herbal medicines showed that Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica has an acute anxiolytic effect.
Centella Asiatica has also been assessed to show a favorable effect on chronic depression. A study was done on participants suffering from a similar disorder, in which they were asked to replace their antidepressant medication with Centella Asiatica for 60 days.
It was seen that there was a significant decrease in stress, anxiety and depression. It also calms down your heart rate and body temperature.
4. It facilitates blood circulation
Centella Asiatica has been analyzed to have a property to reduce fluid retention in your body. It can help reduce or prevent edema. It improves blood circulation. It also has a positive effect on the connective tissue of the vascular wall. It has been found to have a beneficial impact on treating varicose veins and other mild-to-moderate venous diseases.
5. It helps induce sleep.
Due to the anxiolytic effect of Centella Asiatica, it is also claimed to have a powerful impact in treating sleep disorders. Considering it was herbal, it has minimal side effects on the neural functioning of your body. Its ability to soothe your nerve helps in inducing sleep and can be an effective treatment of insomnia.
6. It can heal wounds and reduce scarring
Centella has been used since ancient times in Ayurveda and other cultures to treat minor wounds and cuts. A clinical study was done on wounds like clean cuts by sharp objects, blunt force trauma injuries, and infected rats. The wounds were dressed with Gotu kola or Centella Asiatica herb dressing and were seen to have improved wound healing qualities.
7. It may help in relieving Arthritic pain
Centella Asiatica has also been claimed to have anti-inflammatory properties and can help improve collagen production in the body. It can act as an effective remedy for joint pain. In 2015, research was done on collagen-induced arthritis in rats. When administered with Centella Asiatica orally, it was found that it can effectively reduce joint inflammation, bone erosion, and cartilage erosion.
8. It can act as a detox agent
Centella Asiatica has antioxidant properties too. Not only does it improve your immune system, but it also has detox effects. In an animal study done in 2014, Centella Asiatica was found to have diminished the toxic effects of antibiotic isoniazid, used in the treatment of Tuberculosis.
9. It can help reducing stretch marks
Centella Asiatica has rich amounts of terpenoids, which can significantly increase collagen synthesis in your body. It, in turn, can reduce existing stretch marks and prevent new stretch marks from showing up.
10. Has Antibacterial Properties
Extracts obtained from Centella Asiatica have also been found to have a bacteriolytic effect. In an experimental animal study done in 2012, it was seen that the application of different extracts of Centella Asiatica could inhibit the growth of bacterial colonies in wounded or irritated skin.
Why is Centella Asiatica a much-loved ingredient in Cosmetics?
Centella Asiatica is loaded with a plethora of favorable properties. It is a rich source of amino acids, beta carotene, fatty acids, and many potent phytochemicals.
Due to these properties, Centella Asiatica is not only an acceptable ingredient for your overall wellness but can also be very beneficial to the health of your skin.
Many cosmetic manufacturers incorporate Centella Asiatica Extracts in their skincare products, often labeled "cica creams."
Let's find out how Centella Asiatica is good for the skin:
1. Has Anti-ageing properties
Extracts of Centella Asiatica can combat the signs of aging. It helps the skin to rejuvenate itself and fights against photo-induced aging. Its fluid retention properties trap moisture in the dermal layers and make the skin appear more plump and young. Higher moisture content in the skin cells reduces wrinkles and erases fine lines from the skin.
2. Can help in treating various skin conditions
Centella Asiatica has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and also wound healing properties. It has been found to treat skin conditions like psoriasis, scleroderma, keloids, and hypertrophic wounds. Its ability to promote collagen synthesis strengthens the skin and also makes it more supple.
3. Can act as a natural moisturizer
The fluid retention property of Centella Asiatica makes it a potent skin moisturizer too. Its ability to secure water in the dermal layers hydrates the skin and prevents it from drying up under harsh environments. If you have dry, flaky skin, Centella Asiatica infused creams or other products can be very beneficial.
4. Helps to make your skin bright and radiant
Centella Asiatica is rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants can penetrate the superficial dermal layers and fight against the free radicals in your skin. Not only does it help in avoiding or getting rid of UV rays induced skin damages, but it can also help in reducing melanin overdrive, which causes uneven skin tone and dark spots.
It is also active in reducing the effects of oxidative stresses on the skin. Regular application of Centella Asiatica products can diminish abnormal skin pigmentation and leave your skin radiant and spotless. The antioxidant activity of it can also be useful to lessen the risk of developing cancer.
5. Helps to get rid of acne
The anti-inflammatory properties of Centella Asiatica are also useful in treating inflammatory acne.
Madecassoside, an effective form of pentacyclic triterpene saponin present in it, also has bacteriolytic properties.
It inhibits the growth of Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria responsible for acne formation. Centella Asiatica can also improve the cell turnover in your skin. This helps in getting rid of the acne scars and the unpleasant spots left by them.
What are the potential side effects of using Centella Asiatica?
Centella Asiatica generally does not have any profound adverse effect on your health. However, there have been cases that the ingestion of Gotu Kola in high amounts can cause headaches, stomach trouble, and dizziness.
On topical application, Centella Asiatica has been found to cause skin irritation. Though rare, some studies have shown it can cause contact dermatitis. It is wise to perform a patch test before you start using any Centella Asiatica infused skincare products.
Although there have not been sufficient researches done on human, it recommended not to use Centella Asiatica products,
- If you are under 18 years of age
- In pregnancy
- If you are lactating/nursing
- Suffer from hepatitis or other liver diseases
- Or if you have a past case or history of skin carcinoma.
Due to its inherent properties, it is also suggested that you consult with your physician
- If you suffer from any liver or kidney disease.
- If you are on medication like diuretics or anti-diabetics.
- If you are under sedatives or anxiolytic medicines.
- If you have high cholesterol.
The Bottom Line:
Years of experience cannot be misleading. This incredible herb, Centella Asiatica, has been extensively used in Ayurveda since ancient times.
It is used to treat severe skin infections, psoriasis, lupus and many more things. Thanks to its unique properties,
Centella Asiatica has rightfully earned its importance in the cosmetic industry.