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Centella asiatica

Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) is a traditional medicine mainly renowned for its cognitive enhancing properties (usually alongside bacopa monnieri) and its ability to regenerate wound healing. It appears effective on both parameters in preclinical evidence, and may also be anti-rheumatic.

Our evidence-based analysis on centella asiatica features 149 unique references to scientific papers.

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Summary of Centella asiatica

Primary information, health benefits, side effects, usage, and other important details

Centella asiatica (Gotu Kola) is a traditional medicine that is mostly used and renowned in Ayurveda but has some usage in Traditional chinese usage as well. It is most commonly known as a cognitive enhancing supplement that is somewhat 'interchangeable' with Bacopa monnieri (insofar that the two share many of the same names) but has additional benefits for cardiovascular health (in particular, chronic venous insufficiency), skin regeneration rates and wound healing, and possible benefits to anxiety and rheumatism.

In regards to its cognitive enhancing properties, it requires a few weeks to work and seems to cause an increase in neuronal growth (not how many neurons there are, but how far their dendrites branch out). This is due to activating a class of proteins known as MAPKs, which causes a release in a growth factor for neurons called Brain-derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF). This is a mechanism somewhat similar to Bacopa monnieri and the time-delay in improving cognition is also similar; however, currently there are no studies assessing whether they can be used alongside each other or which one is more potent.

It has another independent mechanism where it augments the release of an anti-inflammatory signalling molecule from immune cells, in particular it enhances the secretion of the molecule known as IL-1β from the immune cells known as macrophages; it does this at a remarkably low concentration (in the picomolar range) and is likely relevant to oral supplementation, and if so this could partly explain benefits to chronic venous insuffiency (which are quite proven with human evidence) and its anti-rheumatic benefits (not as proven).

Finally, this plant may inhibit a group of enzymes that break down collagen while simultanously increasing the rate that collagen is synthesized; this is thought to underlie the increase in wound healing rate (which is proven in animal research with preliminary human research) and is thought to be the reason why centella asiatica is used as a skin tightening agent as any increase in collagen synthesis (like with creatine) should cause a firmness of the skin.

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How to Take

Medical Disclaimer

Recommended dosage, active amounts, other details

Most of the human studies (on Chronic Venous Insufficiency) on this herb have used a centella asiatica supplement two to three times a day, and at each dose the total saponin dose (asiatic acid, madecassic acid, asiaticoside, and madecassoside) has totalled 30-60 mg given a total daily range of 60-180 mg total saponins.

While there are currently no human studies on cognitive enhancement, rat studies have noted success with 200-300 mg per kilogram of the overall plant extract (since the saponins may not be the only active ingredient for cognition); this suggests a human dose of 32-48 mg/kg and thus:

  • 2,100-3,300 mg for a 150lb person

  • 2,900-4,400 mg for a 200lb person

  • 3,600-5,500 mg for a 250lb person

The above dosages ranges are but estimates for cognitive enhancement. Currently, 500mg of centella asiatica twice daily has shown anxiety reducing effects in humans and 750mg of a 5% asiaticoside extract has enhanced mood state; while these doses are active on the cognition, it is not yet demonstrated if they are the dose needed to boost learning.

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Human Effect Matrix

The Human Effect Matrix looks at human studies (it excludes animal and in vitro studies) to tell you what effects centella asiatica has on your body, and how strong these effects are.
Grade Level of Evidence
Robust research conducted with repeated double-blind clinical trials
Multiple studies where at least two are double-blind and placebo controlled
Single double-blind study or multiple cohort studies
Uncontrolled or observational studies only
Level of Evidence
? The amount of high quality evidence. The more evidence, the more we can trust the results.
Outcome Magnitude of effect
? The direction and size of the supplement's impact on each outcome. Some supplements can have an increasing effect, others have a decreasing effect, and others have no effect.
Consistency of research results
? Scientific research does not always agree. HIGH or VERY HIGH means that most of the scientific research agrees.
Notes
grade-b Notable Very High See all 8 studies
Symptoms of chronic venous insufficiency extending to poor circulation, venous reactivity, and adverse side-effects such as edema and leg pain are all reliably reduced with oral ingestion of centella asiatica
grade-b Notable Very High See all 8 studies
There appears to be a notable improvement in microcirculation associated with oral ingestion of centella asiatica in the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency; this may extend to otherwise healthy persons, albeit at a lesser magnitude
grade-b Minor Very High See all 4 studies
Blood flow appears to be increased alongside improvements in microcirculation seen in persons with impaired venous insufficiency being treated with centella asiatica
grade-b Minor Very High See all 5 studies
There appears to be a decrease in edema associated with chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), associated with the treatment of CVI by centella asiatica
grade-b Minor Very High See all 5 studies
The leg swelling associated with chronic venous insufficiency appears to be significantly reduced secondary to treating the state of chronic venous insufficiency.
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in the self-rated sensation of alertness is noted in older healthy adults supplementing with centella asiatica
grade-c Minor - See study
There appears to be a reduction in anxiety symptoms that build up over time (reaching a quarter reduction after two months) associated with twice daily ingestion of 500mg of the plant extract
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in attention has been noted which may be secondary to the treatment of anxiety (or the reductions in stress and depression that also occured due to treating anxiety).
grade-c Minor Very High See 2 studies
A reduction in fear and anxiety responses to an acute startle response (indicative of less responsiveness to alerting stimuli and more calmness) has been noted with this plant extract
grade-c Minor - See study
An increase in self-rated perceptions of contentment is seen in otherwise healthy adults given centella asiatica
grade-c Minor - See study
A reduction in depressive effects may be secondary to the treatment of anxiety.
grade-c Minor Moderate See 2 studies
There are decreases in reaction time when otherwise healthy older adults take this supplement (youth not tested) which span to choice recognition, and spatial memory reaction time but not digit vigilance and simple reaction time.
grade-c Minor - See study
There appears to be stress reducing properties associated with supplementation of this herb at 1g daily, although they may be secondary to anxiety reduction.
grade-c
Minor
- See 2 studies
An increase in wound contraction rate has been noted with oral supplementation of centella asiatica yet an impairment in wound granulation (formation of connective tissue).
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on blood pressure in otherwise healthy persons given an acute dosage.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on heart rate with acute ingestion of the herb in healthy persons.
grade-c - - See study
No significant influence on processing accuracy is seen with centella asiatica supplementation
grade-c - - See study
Acute ingestion of this herb in otherwise healthy individuals does not appear to alter subjective mood parameters.

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Things to Note

Is a Form Of

Also Known As

Gotu kola, Indian Pennywort, Jal Brahmi and Mandookaparni, Brahmi, Tsubokusa

Do Not Confuse With

Kola Nut (a caffeine containing plant)

Goes Well With

  • Vitamin E (appears to increase the rate of vitamin E recycling and augment its antioxidant effects)

  • Centella asiatica is reported to be tasteless and scentless

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Click here to see all 149 references.