Centella asiatica, also known as tiger grass, Hydrocotyle asiaticaor Gotu Kola, is plant that’s prevalent in the swampy regions of India, China, Indonesia and Australia. It is part of the Apiaceae family.
A rampant, semi-aquatic plant, it is easily recognised by its fine, pinkish-green stems and rounded green leaves. When in flower, it bears small pink and green flowers which form a kind of umbrella over it.
The plant is harvested 3 months after planting, the time it takes to reach maturity. It is primarily the leaves and stems which are used in phytotherapy.
Steeped in legend, Centella asiatica has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine. It gets its ‘tiger grass’ name from the fact that tigers would use its healing properties to soothe their wounds.
The people of Laos recount a vivid story about this plant: a young peasant fell in love with the daughter of the village chief. When the young man asked her father for her hand in marriage, the village chief showed his disapproval by cutting off the poor suitor’s ear. The only condition he laid down for allowing him to marry his daughter was to come back the next day with his ear healed. Aware of the regenerative properties of Centella asiatica, the young man applied it to his wound all night before returning to the chief the following day with his ear completely intact!
More generally, this plant is considered to be a sign of longevity and good health in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine. In Sri Lanka, there’s a proverb which says: “two leaves of Gotu kola a day keeps ageing away”. In Tibet, Centella asiatica features in certain meditation rituals that benefit the mind. Nowadays, it is used topically as well as internally, in the field of cosmetics or to support daily well-being.
Centella asiatica contains saponosides (primarily asiaticoside and madecassoside), flavonoids, phytosterols, carotenoids and vitamin C.
Studies carried out over the last few years have identified centella’s benefits as being largely due to asiaticoside and madecassoside, the plant’s two most active molecules (1).
Centella asiatica offers numerous benefits for brain, heart, stomach and skin health. It supports:
Tiger grass can be consumed as a herbal tea, mother tincture or even in a salad made from the leaves. However, to maximise your intake of its active ingredients, the simplest and most effective way is in the form of a dietary supplement.
With regard to dosage, you should aim for between 60mg and 180mg of Centella asiatica a day, taken with meals. Studies generally recommend taking 30-60mg, two to three times a day.
It’s important to choose a supplement with a high content of asiaticosides and madecassosides, the plant’s active ingredients (such as the product Centella asiatica, standardised to 20% asiaticosides and madecassosides).
If you’re particularly interested in the plant’s effects on mental health and cognition, Centella asiatica also features in specific synergistic formulations, usually combined with compounds such as Ginkgo biloba (good for memory and emotional stability), Bacopa monnieri (good for brain reactivity) or Huperzia serrata (good for cognitive performance and mental health). It is also an ingredient in the supplement Neurex, which combines the best natural substances for brain health.
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