Centella asiatica or gotu kola
, 4 min reading time
, 4 min reading time
Centella asiatica is an herb that people can find in moisturisers and wound treatments. It may help with some common skin conditions, but it can cause side effects in high doses.
Centella asiatica, or gotu kola, is a medicinal herb that appears in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. Some people use it to treat wounds such as burns or cuts, skin conditions, including psoriasis and scleroderma, and as an ingredient in cosmetics and skin care products.
Known by a variety of names, including Brahmi, Asiatic pennywort, tiger grass, and Gotu kola, this plant extract is hailed as a hydrating skin-saver.
A 2013 overview of Centella asiatica in cosmetic use states that the herb has played a role in traditional medicine for centuries, with some populations using the plant as a cure-all remedy up to 3,000 years ago.
Historically, people have used it for several conditions, including epilepsy, Hansen’s disease, minor itching, and insect bites. Researchers are currently investigating its use in treating a number of other skin conditions.
The Centella asiatica plant grows in the following areas of the world:
Centella asiatica contains a range of active substances, such as triterpenoids, flavonoids, and phenolic acids, which a 2016 study suggests have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Research from 2018 also suggests that the plant may have anti-carcinogenic properties due to the asiatic acid it contains.
Additionally, according to older research from 2013, the potential uses of Centella asiatica may include:
Centella asiatica may offer several benefits for a person’s skin due to a range of chemicals within the plant.
For example, compounds in Centella asiatica, including madecassoside, madecassic acid, asiaticoside and asiatic acid, may help wounds heal. This is because these compounds increase the amount of collagen and cell layer fibronectin in the skin.
The naturally occurring antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, and carbohydrates in Centella asiatica may also make the herb effective in improving skin hydration and providing anti-aging action, according to the above 2016 study on the moisturizing effects of the plant. As a result, manufacturers often include the herb in moisturizers that target dry and sensitive skin.
Quite a few studies show that Centella asiatica really does have benefits for skin, thanks to its active compounds, including madecassoside, which serves as an antioxidant. Centella asiatica as a whole offers potent antioxidant properties, and there’s additional research showing it to be a rich source of amino acids to soothe upset or compromised skin, while also improving hydration.
There's also evidence that Centella asiatica products can help revitalise skin's protective barrier, plus it may mitigate some of the visible effects of sun damage.
While there’s not strong evidence suggesting Centella asiatica is a key ingredient for brightening skin, its antioxidant properties may help prevent skin dulling to a certain degree by interrupting the cascade of negative effects from environmental stressors. In other words, don’t count on Centella asiatica to visibly fade dark spots or brighten your complexion as a primary benefit, but it has potential as a supporting ingredient in formulas that tackle these concerns.
Centella asiatica is not officially recognised as an anti-blemish ingredient. That said, its soothing properties can complement key blemish-fighting ingredients by helping keep skin calm and visibly reduce redness while the actives go to work. Further, Centella asiatica’s ability to strengthen skin's protective barrier is a welcome benefit for helping any type of compromised skin recover, including blemish-prone.
Researchers are particularly interested in conducting further studies in this regard, using the purified form of madecassoside from Centella asiatica.
While many natural ingredients are big on talk, but small on results, Centella asiatica really does have a lot to offer skin. It can be used by all ages, skin types, and ethnicities and is even suitable for skin prone to rosacea.
Gotu kola is a perennial herb native to Asia. People have used gotu kola in traditional medicine for many years, due to its potential health properties.
Some people believe that gotu kola may help heal wounds, improve cognition, and lower blood pressure.
Despite the herb’s long history of use, very few clinical studies have found that gotu kola supplements have health benefits. People who take these supplements likely rely on anecdotal evidence.
References for this information:
Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, October 2020, pages 174-178
Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Jan-Feb 2016, pages 27–33
Clinical, Cosmetic, and Investigational Dermatology, August 2017, pages 311–315
Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity, September 2020, pages 1-16
Postepy Dermatologii I, February 2013, pages 46–49
Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2010, pages 546–556
Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, November 2021, pages 1-8