Centella asiatica, commonly known as gotu kola, is a herbaceous plant belonging to the family Mackinlayaceae. It is a mild adaptogen and has been used as a medicinal herb for thousands of years in India, where it is commonly used in antiaging preparations for the skin. According to Charaka, often considered the Father of Indian Traditional System of Medicine – Ayurveda, gotu kola is a very useful medicinal plant in preventing aging. It is ranked high in the top ten herbs known for antiaging properties and this may be in part due to its antioxidative effects (Chaudhary, 2010). The plant also possesses neurotonic effects and is known to improve memory and stimulus reflex. It is also supposed to be effective in the treatment of tuberculosis, syphilis, amebic dysentery, and common cold (Ponnusamy et al., 2008).
Scientific studies have shown gotu kola to protect against neurodegerative diseases in animal models. Administration of gotu kola extract is shown to be effective in preventing oxidation of proteins, lipid peroxidation, and prooxidant processes, and to concomitantly increase the antioxidant enzymes in corpus striatum and hippocampus in rats with Parkinson’s disease (Haleagrahara and Ponnusamy, 2010). Gotu kola is also known to improve the neural antioxidant status in aged rats (Subathra et al., 2005), to ameliorate 3-nitropropionic-acid-induced oxidative stress in mice brain (Shinomol et al., 2010), to decrease lead-induced neurotoxicity in mice (Ponnusamy et al., 2008), to mitigate glutamate-induced neuroexcitotoxicity in rats (Ramanathan et al., 2007), and to improve antioxidant status and cognitive skills in rats (Veerendra Kumar and Gupta, 2002). Topical treatment with gotu kola is also reported to be effective in remodeling photoaged skin and to prevent skin aging in human volunteers, thereby validating the ethnomedicinal uses (Haftek et al., 2008).