(Linn.) Urban /
Indian Pennywort, Centella, Gotu Kola
Brahma-manduki, Khulakhudi, Mandookaparni
TIn Sanskrit texts, this plant was called Brahmi
and Mandukaparni. According to Ainslie the leaves were used
for pediatric complaints in bowel problems, fever and
applied externally for blows and bruises in the Coromandel
Coast. In Java, according to Horsfield, they were considered
diuretic and on the Malabar Coast, the plant is one of the
remedies for leprosy. As a remedy in this disease it was
first brought prominently to notice by Boileau, in 1859. Dr.
A. Hunter, who tried it in the Madras Leper Hospital, came
to the conclusion that it had no claim to consideration as a specific in leprosy, but he
found it most useful in ameliorating the symptoms and
improving general health. Reports from Europe in 1885
confirm the use of this plant for syphilitic skin diseases
both internally and externally. Dr. Clement Darnty de
Grandpre in 1888, stated that this plant was so abundant in
Mauritius that it served as forage for cattle, whose milk it
Commonly found as a weed in crop fields and other waste
places throughout India up to an altitude of 600 m.
Morphology Description (Habit)
C.asiatica is a prostrate, perennial herb. The stem is
glabrous, pink and striated, rooting at the nodes; the
leaves are fleshy, orbicular-reniform, crenate, base cordate
and often lobed and long-petioled; the flowers are red, pink
or white, in fascicled umbels; the fruits are oblong, dull
brown, laterally compressed; the pericarp hard, thickened,
woody and white.
Samples of the Indian plants collected from different places
showed the presence of the following glycosides:
indocentelloside, brahmoside, brahminoside, asiaticoside,
thankuniside and isothankuniside. The corresponding
acids obtained on hydrolysis of the glycosides
are indocentoic, brahmic, asiatic, thankunic and
isothankunic. These acids, except the last two, are also
present in free form in the plant apart from isobrahmic and
betulic acids. The presence of mesoinositol, a new
oligosaccharide, `centellose', kaempferol, quercetin and
stigmasterol, have also been reported1.
Different fractions of the drug `Mandukaparni' have shown
barbiturate hypnosis potentiation effect in growing albino
rats. It has also anticonvulsive activity, besides producing
significant alterations in the neurochemistry of the brain.
The extract of the fresh plant significantly inhibits
gastric ulceration induced by cold restraint stress (CRU) in
rats. In pharmacological tests the plant has exhibited
sedative, antidepressant activity in albino rats. The
asiaticoside, a glucoside, has given encouraging results for
the treatment of leprosy2.
Clinical trials have demonstrated that the herbal drug
possesses an Ayurvedic Medhya Rasayana effect (brain
invigorating). It was found that the extract increases the
intelligence quotient in mentally retarded children. In a
comparative clinical and instrumental trial with a placebo,
the plant extract was found to improve venous disorders of
the lower limbs3.
A double blind clinical trial conducted on 43 normal adults
showed that the plant increased the mean level of R.B.C.,
blood sugar, serum cholesterol, vital capacity and total
protein. The drug also decreased the mean blood urea level
and a moderate decrease in the serum acid phosphate was
A double blind clinical trial, conducted on 30 mentally
retarded children who were free from epilepsy and other
neurological conditions, showed significant improvements in
both general ability and behavioral patterns when the drug
was administered for a short period of 12 weeks6.
The drug was found to be nontoxic up to a dose of 350mg/kg3.
The plant is valued in indigenous medicine for treatment of
leprosy and skin diseases and also to improve memory. The
plant is used as an antidote to cholera. A cold poultice of
the fresh herb is used as an external application in
rheumatism, elephantiasis and hydrocele. For treating
leprosy and other skin diseases it is given as an ointment
or dusting powder. Internally it has been valued as a tonic
and is used in bronchitis, asthma, gastric catarahh,
leucorrhoea, kidney troubles, urethritis and dropsy. A
decoction of very young shoots is given for haemorrhoids.
- Bhattacharyya, J Indian chem Soc., 1956, 33, 893;
Rastogi et. al., J sci. industr. Res.,1960, 19B, 252;
Dutta & Basu, ibid, 1962, 21B, 239; Dutta & Basu, Indian J
Chem., 1967, 5, 586; Dutta & Basu, Bull nat. Inst. Sci.
India, No. 37, 1968, 178; Singh & Rastogi, Phytochemistry,
1969, 8, 917; Rao & Seshadri, Curr. Sci., 1969, 38, 77.
- Shukla, Bull Med. Ethno-Bot Res, 1989, 10 (3-4), 119;
Bagchi & Puri, Herba Hung, 1989, 28 (1-2), 127; Sharan &
Khare, Probe, 1991, 31 (1), 12; Kulkarni & Verma, ibid,
1993, 32 (4), 289; Kulkarni & Verma, Indian Drugs, 1993,
30, 97; Chatterjee et. al., Indian J Exp. Biol., 1992, 30,
889, Sakina & Dandiya, Fitoterapia, 1990, 61, 291.
- Aithal & Sirsi, Antiseptic, 1961, May, 1.
- Appa Rao et. al., J. Res. Ind. Med., 1967, 2, 79.
- Appa Rao et. al., Nagarjun, 1969, 12, 79.
- Appa Rao et. al., J. Res. Ind. Med., 1973, 8, 9.