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Hydrocotyle asiatica
Centella asiatica L.

*INCI Name

Habitat and Range

Centella asiatica (L.) Urb., a
weakly aromatic-smelling plant
native to parts of India, China,
Indonesia, Sri Lanka, the western
South Sea Islands, Australia,
Madagascar, and southern and
middle Africa.


Has been utilized as a medicine in
India since prehistoric times and is
probably identical with the plant
manduka parni. Fresh extracts of
the plant seem to have been used
for medicinal purposes by the peo-
ple of Java and other islands near

Part Used:


(Centella asiatica) Extract

Leaves and roots

Synonyms:Thick-leaved Pennywort,
Indian Pennywort, March Pennywort,
Water Navelwort
Part Used:Leaves and aerial part

Gotu kola

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC



the Malay Peninsula for many years as both topical and internal agents for the healing of
wounds and relief from leprosy.
A slender, creeping, perennial plant, Centella asiatica flourishes in and around water and
damp swampy areas, but is often observed growing along stone walls or other rocky, sunny
areas and at elevations of approximately 700 meters in India and Ceylon. Plants of Centella
asiatica have constantly growing roots and long, often reddish string-shaped stolons that are
characterized by long internodes and roots at each of the nodes. Smooth-surfaced leaves,
borne on furrowed petioles, that can reach a length of 15 cm or more originate from the axils
of scale-like leaves at the nodes. Each leaf blade is round to reniform and deeply cordate,
reaching an average of about 1.5 to 3cm in width. The leaf margin can be smooth, crenate,
or slightly lobed. Usually 3 to 6 red flowers arise in a sessile manner or on very short pedicels
in axillary umbels at the end of 2 to 8mm long peduncles. Small bracts surround each flower.
The fruit, formed throughout the growing season, is approximately 5mm long, with 7 to
9ribs and a curved, strongly thickened pericarp. Seeds are laterally compressed.
Depending on environmental circumstances, the form and shape of Centella asiatica plant
changes greatly. Frequently, in shallow water, the plant will form with only floating leaves.
In dry locations, numerous roots are formed and the leaves are small and thin.


Originally found in India and Pakistan, (Centella asiatica or Hydrocotyle asiatica) or Indian
Pennywort, proliferates in hot and humid climates. It is presently being used in numerous
herbal energy stimulants1

for strengthening the body,2

significantly improving the learning

abilities in mentally retarded children.3

Other clinically tested uses include improving circu-

lation by thinning the blood,4,5

exerting limited sedation on the cholinergic mechanism in the

central nervous system.6

Considering what Gotu kola has done from a medicinal perspective
for skin problems in other countries, one is tempted to speculate whether these same thera-
peutic successes could be translated into similar cosmetic miracles. Centella is a small
herbaceous plant growing at an altitude of 600m above sea level in damp areas. Centella
contains vallejin, a bitter principle, and a mixture of triterpenoid glycosides, the most abundant
of which is asiaticoside (C48H78O19), and madecassoside (C48H78O20) which on hydrolysis
produces asiatic acid, glucose, and rhamnose. It also contains traces of an alkaloid, volatile
oil, and pectin.7

The active principle in Gotu kola — asiasticoside and madecassoside act as
detergents and dissolve the waxy covering of the bacillus that causes leprosy and skin

© 1999 by CRC Press LLC



tuberculosis and penetrates the greasy film surrounding the herpes virus. Asiaticoside also
helps heal ugly skin lesions common to lupus erythematosus and herpes simplex by promoting
a rapid thickening of the skin and an increased blood supply to the connective tissue.8


constituent is also responsible for accelerated growth of hair and nails as well.9
A special salve made of the leaf sap of the plant has been applied topically to wounds,
minor cuts, and abrasions in the Philippines with some success.10

And certain Ayurvedic-
based cosmetic preparations containing Gotu kola leaf and root have appeared in various
parts of India; lip balm for chapped lips, hand lotion for rough, dry “dishpan” hands, an
ointment for insect bites and stings, and finally a hair tonic for certain scalp problems.11


Essential oil, sterols, flavonol glycosides, polyalkynes, and saponins. These are not glyco-
sides, but esters in the 28-position of a triasccharide (alpha-L-Rha 1- 4 Beta-D-Glc 1-6Beta-
D-Glc 1-) and of acids derived from ursane: asiatic acid and madecassic acid.

1.R. Petras, Gotu kola (Centella asiatica), unpublished monograph, p.6.
2.M.V.R. Appa Rao, etal., Study of mandookapami and punomovo for their rosayana effect on normal
healthy adults, Nagariun, 120, 33-41 July 1969.
3.M.V.R. Appa Rao et al., The effect of mandookapomi (Centella asiatica) on the general mental
ability (medhya) of mentally retarded children, J.Res. Indian Med., 8, 9-13, 1973.
4.C. Allegra et al., L’estralto di Centella asiatica nelle fiebopatie degli arti inferiori, Clinca Terapeutica,
99, 506-13, 1981.
5.M. Weiner, Weiner’s Herbal, Stein & Day, New York, 1980, 94.
6.B. A. Velazco Traditional herbal practices and motherhood” Philippine J. Nur. 50:96, 1980.
7.E. F. Reynolds, Martindale 28th ed., The Pharmaceutical Press, London, 1984.
8.P. Boiteau and A. R. Ratsimamanga, Asiaticoside. extracted from Centella asiatica. Its therapeutic
uses in the healing of experimental or refractory wounds, leprosy, skin tuberculosis, and lupus,
Therapie, 11, 125-149, 1956.
9.Weiner, cp, cit.
10.M. A. Weiner, Ethnomedicine in Tanga, Econ. Bot., 25, 446, 1971.
11.Dr. R. Labadie. Centella Asiatica in perspective: An evaluative account, Unpublished paper delivered
at a joint workshop sponsored/organized by the European Ayurvedic Society and the Wellcome
Trust, London, England, Sept.4, 1985.


Citrus paradisi, Mac Fad.

*INCI Name

Habitat and Range

The tree is indigenous to the Malay Archipelago and extensively cultivated in India, Florida,
California, and elsewhere.

Part Used:


Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Extract


Part Used:Fruit

Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Juice


Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Leaf Extract


Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Oil

Volatile oil
from peel

Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Peel Extract


Grapefruit (Citrus grandis) Seed Extract


© 1999 by CRC Press LLC




The fruits are very similar to sweet and bitter orange but are usually larger in size, sometimes
weighing more than 1 kg. The color is yellowish, and the epicarp appears smoother because
the underlying shizo-lysigenous oil glands are not protruding upward. The odor is character-
istic and aromatic, the taste is acrid, slightly bitter, and characteristic.


Tonic, refreshing exfoliating. Can be used in creams and lotions.


Flavonoids, fruity-acids, essential oil that contains 96 to 97% monoterpenoid hydrocarbons
(e.g., limonene, myrcene).

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