Botanical name: Centella asiatica, Apiaceae

Other names: Brāhmī  ‘consort of Brahmā’, Brahmāmaṇḍuki ‘frog-leaved Brāhmī’ (S); Bemgsag (H), Vallarai (T), Indian Penny wort (E), Luei Gong Gen (C); ‘Gotu Kola’ is derived from the Sinhala name

Botany: Maṇḍūkaparṇī is a slender herbaceous creeping perrenial, with long stems, rooting at the nodes.  The leaves are obicularly reniform, crenate, on long petioles.  The small flowers are white, pink or purple, borne in fascicled umbels, giving rise to a fleshy compressed fruit with two mericarps (Kirtikar & Basu 1935, Warrier et al 1994).

Part used: Leaves.

• Rasa: tikta, kaṭu
• Vipāka: kaṭu
• Vīrya: śīta
• Karma: dīpana, jvaraghna, raktaprasādana, mūtravirecana, kuṣṭaghna, hṛdaya, medhya, rasāyana
• Prabhāva: also called Brāhmī (consort of Brahmā) because it aids in the development of Brahman, the Supreme Reality, strengthening nervous function, and promoting longevity, intelligence and memory (Dash 1991, Dash & Junius 1983, Frawley & Lad  1986, Srikanthamurthy 2001, Srikanthamurthy 1994, Warrier et al 1994).

Constituents: Maṇḍūkaparṇī contains a variety of constituents of which the triterpenoids have attracted the most attention from researchers.  These include asiaticoside A and B, madecassoside, braminoside, brahmoside, brahminoside, thankuniside, isothankunoside, as well as triterpene acids such as asiatic acid, 6-hydroxy asiatic acid, madecassic acid, madasiatic acid, brahmic acid, isobrahmic acid, betulinic acid and isothankunic acid.  Maṇḍūkaparṇī also contains the flavones include quercitin, kaempferol and astragalin, the alkaloid hydrocotylin, and phytosterols stigmasterol and sitosterol.  The fresh and recently dried plant contains an essential oil comprised primarily of sesquiterpenoids such as b-caryophyllene, a-humulene and germacrene.  Additional constituents include tannins, amino acids, B-complex vitamins and a resin (Heinerman 1984, Williamson 2002, Yoganarasimhan 2000).

Medical research:
• In vitro: neuroprotective (Mook-Jung et al 1999), antitumor (Babu et al 1995, Lin et al 1972)
• In vivo: nootropic, anxiolytic (Leung and Foster 1996); GABA-nergic (Chatterjee et al 1992); antimicrobial (Oliver-Bever 1986), CNS-depressant (Ramaswamy  et al 1970); anti-ulcer (Chatterjee et al 1992); anti-oxidant (Shukla et al 1999b); anti-inflammatory (Chen et al. 1999); vulnerary (Maquart et al 1999, Shukla et al 1999a, Suguna et al 1996)
• Human trials: Maṇḍūkaparṇī promoted significant improvements in cooperation, memory, concentration, attention, vocabulary and social adjustment in mentally-challenged children, compared to placebo (Appa Rao 1973); Maṇḍūkaparṇī significantly reduced the number of circulating endothelial cells asiatica in patients with postphlebitic syndrome (Montecchio et al 1991); Maṇḍūkaparṇī significantly and safely promoted improvement in patients with chronic venous hypertensive microangiopathy (Cesarone et al 1994); Maṇḍūkaparṇī significantly reduced ankle, edema and foot swelling, and improved capillary filtration rate and microcirculatory parameters in patients with venous insufficiency (Cesarone et al 1992); a titrated extract of Maṇḍūkaparṇī promoted clinical improvement in 5 of 12 patients with chronic hepatic disorders (Darnis et al 1979); Maṇḍūkaparṇī was efficacious in the treatment of chronic or subchronic systemic scleroderma with limited skin involvement, and in progressive and/or advanced focal scleroderma (Guseva et al 1998); in the treatment of keloids madecassol (asiaticoside) extracted from Maṇḍūkaparṇī compared favourably with compression bandaging, and provided more lasting results than either intralesional cortisone or radiation therapy (Bosse et al 1979); a topical extract of Centella asiatica was found to be useful in Pseudofolliculitis barbae (razor bumps) when used as a shaving lubricant (Spencer 1985).

Toxicity: No relevant data found.

Indications: Gastric ulceration and inflammation, dysentery, jaundice, hepatitis, fever, bronchitis, alopecia, eczema, psoriasis, leprous ulcers, venereal diseases, burns, anxiety, poor memory, ADD/ADHD, senility, Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, chronic fatigue, premature aging, hypertension, anemia, diabetes, edema, varicosities, phlebitis, venous insufficiency, immunodeficiency, autoimmune disorders, cancer.

Contraindications: A water-soluble fraction of Centella asiatica was reported to inhibit hepatic enzymes responsible for barbiturate metabolism (Leung & Foster 1996), and has been found to have a GABAnergic activity (Chatterjee et al 1992).  Maṇḍūkaparṇī is thus contraindicated with the concurrent use of drugs such as benzodiazepines, barbituates or antiepileptics.  Contact dermatitis has been reported in some patients using preparations of fresh or dried parts of the plant (Eun & Lee 1985).  Although the triterpene constituents have shown to lack any kind or teratogenic effects (Bosse et al 1979), relaxation of the rat uterus has been documented for brahmoside and brahminoside, and therefore Maṇḍūkaparṇī is thus avoided in pregnancy (Ramaswamy  et al 1970).  Hyperglycemic and hypercholesterolemic effects have been reported for asiaticoside in humans (Newall et al 1996), and caution should be exercised with the concomitant use of hypolipidemic and hypoglycemic therapies.  Frawley & Lad  report high doses of Maṇḍūkaparṇī may cause a loss of consciousness and headaches, and that it may aggravate pruritis (1986).  The majority of texts indicate that Maṇḍūkaparṇī is contraindicated in vāttika conditions (Warrier et al 1995), and if used should be formulated with other botanicals to offset this effect, e.g.  Aśvagandhā.

Medicinal uses:  Maṇḍūkaparṇī is a common green vegetable throughout Southeast Asia, from India to the Phillipines, sometimes eaten raw as a side dish, or prepared as a juice.  It is said to be a favourite food of elephants in Sri Lanka.  Modern clinical research has supported many of the time-honoured properties attributed to Maṇḍūkaparṇī.  Plant geneticists have recently termed Maṇḍūkaparṇī as an “araliaceous hydrocotyloid” (Downie et al 2000), for although it is a member of the Apiaceae, it bears many similarities both botanically and in therapeutic action with other genera of the Araliaceae, such as Ginseng (Panax ginseng).  For internal administration the fresh plant is considered best, either as a juice, or more recently, as a fresh plant tincture.  Dried plant preparations howeve are used in Āyurveda and should not be considered as useless, but care should be taken to carefully source the herb, as Maṇḍūkaparṇī grows quite well along the edges of rivers and sewer outfalls and could be contaminated with heavy metals, fecal coliform or parasites.  Maṇḍūkaparṇī is a useful treatment in a range of mental and cerebrovascular conditions including epilepsy, stroke, dementia, memory loss, poor concentration, and attention deficit disorder.  Some texts state that Maṇḍūkaparṇī is the same as Brāhmī (Bacopa monnieri) in action, some even suggesting that they are even one and the same.  They are,, however, different plants with a different range of activities, but both are active as agents to enhance mental function.  Generally speaking, Maṇḍūkaparṇī is used in cognitive dysfunction where pitta is the predominant doṣa, best used as the fresh juice, 25 mL twice daily.  In skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema benefit can be obtained by using Maṇḍūkaparṇī with hepatics such as Bhṛṅgarāja, Mañjiṣṭhā, Dāruharidrā and Yellowdock (Rumex crispus)Maṇḍūkaparṇī may also be used topically in salves and balms to treat chapped lips, herpetic lesions, leprosy, scrofula, seborrheic dermatitis, ‘dish pan’ hands, eczema, psoriasis and insect bites and stings.  As an alternative to antibiotics, Maṇḍūkaparṇī could be taken internally with Kaṭuka and Bhūnimba, or Western herbs such as Goldenseal (Hydrastis canadensis root) and Purple Coneflower (Echinacea spp.) in the treatment of infectious conditionsFor wounds Maṇḍūkaparṇī can be combined with Comfrey (Symphytum officinalis root), applied topically and taken internally to speed healing and recovery.  Maṇḍūkaparṇī, along with other immunomodulants such as Huang qi (Astragalus membranaceus) and Aśvagandhā should be considered an adjunct in the treatment of immunodeficiency diseases.  The Aṣṭāñga Hṛdaya mentions the usefulness of Maṇḍūkaparṇī in the treatment of saṃnipātaja udara (abdominal enlargement in which all three doṣāḥ are active), after purgative therapies have been initiated, taken as the fresh juice for a period of a month (Srikanthamurthy 1995). 

• Cūrṇa: 3-10 g b.i.d.-t.i.d.
• Svarasa: 25 mL b.i.d.-t.i.d.
• Phāṇṭa: 30-120 mL b.i.d.-t.i.d.
• Tincture: fresh plant 1:2, 95% alcohol; dry plant 1:3, 50% alcohol, 1-5 mL b.i.d.-t.i.d.
• Ghṛta: 2 gtt. s.d. taken as nasya for nervous disorders
• Taila: ad lib. in abhyaṅga etc. for nervous system disorders