Centella asiatica: (Common name: Asiatic pennywort, Indian pennywort)
Overview: As the name suggests, Centella asiatica is a perennial aquatic plant native to the wetlands of Southeast Asia especially in India, China, Indonesia and Japan as well as, Southeastern United States of America. It is a small herbaceous flowering plant characterized by the typical fan shaped leaves. Centella asiatica thrives in tropical swamps and marshes and is a very popular plant in various fields of medicine like Ayurveda, western Herbal, traditional African, Chinese and European etc.
Appearance: The leaves of Centella asiatica are quite small, measuring up to only 2 cm in length. The stems are slender and have a greenish to reddish coloration. The flowers of Centella asiatica are in shades of white, pink or red and form clusters near the soil surface. The flowers are hermaphrodite in nature with 5 stamens and 2 styles.
Hard/Soft plant: Soft plant
Ideal water temperature conditions: Centella asiatica prefers slightly warm to cool climate and can tolerate temperatures between 10 and 25 degree Celsius.
Lighting conditions: Centella asiatica grows best when exposed to high and medium intensity of light. Exposure to full spectrum sunlight or half shade half sun is considered ideal.
Ideal pH conditions: Centella asiatica prefers pH levels between 4.5 and 5.5.
Functions and advantages:
- Centella asiatica is used to treat several venous conditions like varicose veins, venous insufficiency and venous hypertension.
- Centella asiatica contains triterpenoids that speed up healing process of wounds by boosting antioxidants at the wounded area, strengthening the skin and increasing blood supply to the site.
- Centella asiatica is known to reduce anxiety and increase mental function.
- Also known as the “fountain of life”, this herb supposedly increases longevity.
- It has a diuretic effect and is thus used for detoxification, reduces inflammation increase auto immunity and memory and strengthens the central nervous system.
- Centella asiatica is also used in wide variety of cuisines across the globe. In Myanmar it is used in salads, Sri Lankans use in porridges, Vietnamese use them in health drinks, Indians use it to make a very popular drink called Thandai popularly taken in the festival of colors, Holi.
Did you know? Ironically, although Centella asiatica is used to treat various skin infections, it has been warned that the plant could cause skin irritations to some.