Latin name: Centella asiatica (Linn.) (Urban), Hydrocotyle asiatica (Linn.) (Apiaceae)
Sanskrit/Indian name: Mandukaparni, Brahmi, Mandukig, Brahma-manduki, Khulakhudi, Mandookaparni Divya
Centella is a nervine tonic that enhances learning, academic performance and improves mental ability. It acts as an anti-anxiety agent and is used to treat several mental disorders. It also calms restlessness in children. It is used as a nootropic, a drug that enhances cognitive ability.
Used in Ayurveda for centuries, Centella supports the normal function of the mind, intellect, consciousness and good spirit. According to Alternative Medicine Review (March 2004), ‘Recent research has focused primarily on Centella's cognitive effects, specifically memory, learning, and concentration, and results support the traditional Ayurvedic claims.’ Researchers from Uttar Pradesh, India, working with Frankston Hospital in Victoria, Australia, also found that Centella showed a supportive effect on memory control and occasional age-associated memory challenges (Indian Journal of Psychiatry, 238-242. 2004).
Therapeutic constituents:The herb contains the alkaloids brahmine, herpestine and a mixture of three bases. The herb also contains the saponins, hersaponin and bacosides A and B. Bacosides A and B possess haemolytic activity. Hersaponin has cardiotonic and sedative properties.
Key therapeutic benefits:
- Centella promotes intelligence, particularly the power of retention. It relieves nervous irritation or agitation. It is used traditionally for enhancing memory and for treating psychosis, epilepsy and anxiety.
- Centella can elevate the level of cerebral glutamic acid and temporarily increase the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) level in the brain. It is believed that the endogenous increase in brain glutamine may be helpful in the learning process.