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Department for Health, Community

& Wellbeing


TEACHER: Adrianne Waterman

PROGRAM: Advanced Diploma of Naturopathy

COURSE: Herbal Medicine 4



ASSIGNMENT TITLE: Materia Medica – Gotu Kola

DATE DUE: 29/8/2011



(Office Use Only)

STUDENT NAME: _________________________________________

Your assignment was received in our Office on _____________________

Signature of Recipient _________________________________________________

Materia Medica Assignment Marking Schedule

Student’s Name: Date: _________

Criteria Grade
Herb correctly described according to template categories.

Written assignment:
Accuracy of information and clarity of explanation
Originality – information understood and written up in own words
Grammar, spelling, layout

At least 6 reputable references used.
Summary of at least 3 recent clinical trials and studies (post

Correctly referenced (including bibliography) – Harvard style

Oral Presentation (including audio-visual aids)



Gotu kola
Part 1 – essentials
Herb’s Scientific Name – Centella
Common & Alternative names –
Antanan gede, Asiatic pennywort,
brahmi booti, gagan, Hydrocotyle
asiatica, Indian pennywort, Indian water
navelwort, kaki kuda, marsh penny,
rending, sheep rot, thick-leaved
pennywort, tiger’s herb, tsubo-kusa,
Trisanthus cochinchinensis, tungchian,
water pennyrot, white rot (Natural
Standard 2011)

Plant Family – Mackinlayaceae (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae)

Other family members include angelica, anise, caraway, carrot, celery,
coriander/cilantro, cumin, dill, fennel, hemlock, lovage, Queen Anne's Lace,
parsley, parsnip, sea holly (Wikipedia 2011)

Part(s) Used Medicinally – Aerial parts

Active Constituents – Triterpene saponins (asiaticoside, madecassoside)

and their aglycones (asiatic and madecassic acid), calcium, phosphorous, iron,
potassium, beta-carotene, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, asorbic acid (Brinkhaus et
al. 2000)

Body System Affinity(ies) – Cardiovascular, nervous, integumentary

Herbal Actions – Healing promoter, vulnerary, anti-inflammatory,
adaptogenic, nervine tonic, antifibrotic

Therapeutic Applications/ Physiological Mode(s) of Action

Medicinal Uses
Chronic venous insufficiency Multiple small European trials
suggest that the total triterpenoid
fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA)
may have small to moderate benefits
on objective and subjective
parameters associated with chronic
venous insufficiency (Natural
Standard 2011).
A controlled study in 21 subjects with
postphlebitic limbs or lymphoedema
reports that daily ingestion of a
commercial product containing
TTFCA causes a significant
decrease in both the
lymphatic/plasma protein
concentration ratio and distal
oedema (Cesarone et al. 1991).
TTFCA has been noted to reduce
ankle oedema, foot swelling, and
capillary filtration rate, as well as to
improve microcirculatory parameters
(including resting flux, venoarteriolar
response, PO2, PCO2) in subjects
with reported venous insufficiency of
the lower extremities (Cesarone et
al. 1992).
Wound healing Asiatic acid, madecassic acid, and
asiaticoside have been shown to
stimulate the in vitro synthesis of
collagen, both alone and in
combination (Bonte et al. 1994).
Asiaticoside has been reported to
possess wound healing activity by
increasing collagen formation and
angiogenesis. It was also shown to
increase the tensile strength of the
newly formed skin and inhibit the
inflammatory process which may
provoke hypertrophy in scars and
improves the capillary permeability
(Incandela et al. 2001)

Anxiolytic In 40 healthy (non-anxious) subjects,

Bradwejn et al. (2000) studied the
effects of gotu kola on acoustic
startle response.
In this double-blind, placebo
controlled trial, subjects were
randomized to receive a single 12g
dose of gotu kola (crude herb) mixed
in 300mL of grape juice, or grape
juice alone. At 30 and 60 minutes
after intervention, the gotu kola
group experienced a significant
decrease in their ASR, suggesting
the possible ability of gotu kola to
decrease anxiety.

Other uses / indications:

TTFCA has been shown to have an antidepressant effect in mice (Chen et al.
2003). This effect may be involved in ameliorating the function of HPA axis and
increasing the amounts of monoamine neurotransmitters. The contents of
monoamine neurotransmitters and their metabolites in depressed rat’s cortex,
hippocampus and thalamus were evaluated and significant reduction of the
corticosterone level and increase of the contents of 5-HT, norepinephrine,
dopamine and their metabolites 5-HIAA, MHPG in rat brain were observed
(Chen et al. 2005).
A laboratory study was reported in which aqueous extract of Centella asiatica
(CA) was found to be effective in inhibiting gastric lesions induced by ethanol
administration. The authors concluded that the CA extract presumably
strengthened the gastric mucosal barrier and reduced the damaging effects of
free radicals (Cheng & Koo 2000).
A study (Veerendra Kumar & Gupta 2003) demonstrated cognitive-enhancing
and anti-oxidant properties of CA in normal rats. The rats treated with CA
showed a dose-dependent increase in cognitive behaviour in passive
avoidance and elevated plus-maze paradigms. A significant decrease in MDA
(a strongly oxidising metabolite) and an increase in glutathione and catalase
levels were observed only in rats treated with 200 and 300 mg/kg CA.
CA extract is used commonly and effectively in the treatment of keloids, leg
ulcers, phlebitis, slow-healing wounds, leprosy, surgical lesions, striae
distensae and cellulitis. Although applied frequently to damaged skin, the risk of
acquiring contact sensitivity to this plant or its constituents is low (Hausen

 For varicose veins, haemorrhoids (internally) – Horse chestnut, butcher’s
broom, grape seed
 For varicose veins, haemorrhoids (topically) – Witch hazel, horse chestnut,
arnica, agrimony
 For venous insufficiency – Horse chestnut, grape seed
 For wound healing (internally): Bilberry, grape seed, gingko
 For wound healing (topically): Calendula, chamomile, comfrey
 To improve cognitive performance / concentration: Gingko, bacopa
 For peptic ulcers: Barberry, chamomile, golden seal

Contraindications/ Interactions Warnings/ Precautions

Avoid in known allergy Unintentional adulteration may occur
due to confusion over common
names. In Ayurveda both Centella
asiatica and Bacopa monieri are
known by the local name “Brahmi”.

20 – 40 mL/week (1:1 liquid)
5 – 8 g/day (tablet)

Part 2 - extra information

Habitat Gotu kola grows native in most of the tropics, though it is believed to be a
native species of India; it also grows in the wild in the southern US states. At the
same time, wild populations of gotu kola are also seen growing in the tropical and
subtropical parts of Australia, the Southern parts of Africa, as well as the South
American tropics. Gotu kola tends to prefer marshy areas and riverbanks in the
tropics (Herbs 2000 2011).
Traditional Use
Gotu kola has a long history of use, dating back to ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic
medicine. Gotu kola is mentioned in the Shennong Herbal, compiled in China
roughly 2,000 years ago, and it has been widely used medicinally since 1700 AD.
The herb was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to heal wounds, improve
mental clarity, and treat skin conditions such as leprosy and psoriasis. Some
people use it to treat respiratory infections such as colds, and it has a history of
use for that purpose in China.
Historically, gotu kola has also been used to treat syphilis, hepatitis, stomach
ulcers, mental fatigue, epilepsy, diarrhea, fever, and asthma. It has been used to
treat leprosy in Mauritius since 1852 and to treat wounds and gonorrhoea in the
(UMMC 2011, Herbs2000 2011, Natural Standard 2011)

Folklore/ Mythology
Gotu kola got the nickname tiger's herb because injured tigers often rub against it
to heal their wounds.
Gotu Kola features in both Chinese and Indian myths and folklore. The Tai Chi
Chuan master Li Ching-Yun purportedly lived to an advanced age of over 200
years old, due in part to his use of Gotu kola and other Chinese herbs. In Sri Lanka
there is a tale of a 10th century king who claimed gotu kola provided the energy
and stamina to satisfy his extensive harem.
Traditionally the people of Sri Lanka have observed that one of the longest living
mammals, elephants, fed extensively on the plant in the wild. This may have been
the initial cause for the use of this plant and its subsequent reputation as a
promoter of longevity in people who eat it.
(Indian Mirror 2011, Herbs2000 2011)
Herbal Energetics
Traditionally, gotu kola is described as bitter, sweet, and cool. It supposedly affects
the heart and liver, rejuvenates pitta, inhibits vata, and helps reduce excessive
(Natural Standard 2011)
Mental/ Emotional/ Situational
In Ayurveda, gotu kola is called Brahmi, meaning "of divine origin," or "from the
god Brahma," and is considered to be a highly spiritual herb. It is said to develop
the crown chakra, the energy center at the top of the head, and to balance the right
and left hemispheres of the brain.
(Natural Standard 2011)
Other Comments/ Observations/ Insights
The literature indicates that this herb is useful for wound healing and
microangiopathy, however traditionally it was used for so much more. I am unable
to get a “feel” for this herb, although I do not doubt its value.
Bone, K 2007, The Ultimate Herbal Compendium: A Desktop Guide For Herbal
Prescribers, Phytotherapy Press, Warwick
Bonte, F et al. 1994, Influence of asiatic acid, madecassic acid, and
asiaticoside on human collagen I synthesis, Planta Med, 60(2), pp.133-135
Bradwejn, J et al. 2000, A double-blind, placebo-controlled study on the effects
of Gotu Kola (Centella asiatica) on acoustic startle response in healthy
subjects, J.Clin Psychopharmacol, 20(6), pp.680-684
Brinkhaus, B at al. 2000, Chemical, pharmacological and clinical profile of the
East Asian medical plant Centella asiatica, Phytomedicine,7(5), pp.427-448
Cesarone M et al. 1991, Efficacy of TTFCA in reducing the ratio between
lymphatic and plasma protein concentration in lymphatic and postphlebetic
edema, Minerva Cardioangiol, 39(12), pp.475-478
Cesarone, M et al. 1992, Activity of Centella asiatica in venous insufficiency,
Minerva Cardioangiol, 40(4), pp.137-143
Chen, Y et al. 2003, Effect of total triterpenes from Centella asiatica on the
depression behaviour and concentration of amino acid in forced swimming
mice, Zhong Yao Cai, 26, pp.870–3
Chen, Y et al. 2005, Effects of total triterpenes of Centella asiatica on the
corticosterone levels in serum and contents of monoamine in depression rat
brain, Zhong Yao Cai, 28, pp.492–6
Cheng, C & Koo, M 2000, Effects of Centella asiatica on ethanol induced
gastric mucosal lesions in rats, Life Sci, 67, pp.2647–53
Hausen, B 1993, Centella asiatica (Indian pennywort), an effective therapeutic
but a weak sensitizer, Contact Dermatitis, 29, pp.175–9
Herbs2000 2011, Gotu kola, viewed 18/8/2011,
Incandela, L et al. 2001, Total triterpenic fraction of Centella asiatica in chronic
venous insufficiency and in high-perfusion microangiopathy, Angiology, 52
(Suppl. 2), pp.S9-13
Indian Mirror 2011, Gotu kola, viewed 18/8/2011,
Natural Standard 2011, Gotu kola (Centella asiatica Linn.) and Total
Triterpenic Fraction of Centella asiatica (TTFCA), viewed 16/9/2011,
University of Maryland Medical Centre (UMMC) 2011, Gotu kola, viewed
18/8/2011, <>
Veerendra Kumar, M & Gupta, Y 2003, Effect of Centella asiatica on cognition
and oxidative stress in an intracerebroventricular streptozotocin model of
Alzheimer's disease in rats, Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol, 30, pp.336–42
Wikipedia 2011, Centella asiatica, viewed 19/3/2011,
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