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Plants of value.

posted Jan 31, 2015, 4:24 AM by Ranmini Perera   [ updated Nov 24, 2015, 6:29 PM by Upali Salpadoru ]
Centella asiatica- Wonder herb.
Gotu kola, Centella asiatica,( kannada "ಒಂದೆಲಗ". Tamil) is a native of the tropics  that can creep in rough terrain or flourish under shady and moist conditions. The man had been using this for food and medicine,  since ancient times. Now the plant seem to have broken all climatic barriers and creeping all over the globe. The latest demand seem to be from the pharmaceutical firms to make cosmetics.


Fig.1 Centella asiatica New Zraland veriety.

The Family
Many would not know that this is a very close cousin of the popular European root crop, Carrot.  (Daucus carota). They belong to the family of Umbeliferae (Apiacae) along with, coriander, celery and fennel. A typical feature of these plants is the production of a flower cluster (infloresence) which is described in botany as an ‘umbel’. It has the shape of an inverted cone. Almost all specimens, from the roots to  stem, leaves and  and even the seeds usually have pleasant aromas. Gotu kola,( Centella sciatica) may be the only member of the family where the stem remains underground.


Fig.2  Umbel infloresence .

The Gotukola Plant
The vegetative part consists of a stem which could range from a few millimeters to about 10cm, depending on the specie and the environment. The leaf blade has a conical shape and the stalk is attached at a cleft. In Fig.1 shown here is New Zealand specie where the cleft has been closed. The lamina (leaf blade) is completely circular probably modified to away the frost.


Fig.3 Thee underground stems which can withstand unfavorable conditions.
Gotukola as a food


Warning; Some sources have warned that it is better to keep pregnant and breast feeding women and babies from consuming this.
1.    Eating raw or as mallung.
The leaves are generally eaten raw in salads and special preparations called ‘sambol’. The leaves are very finely
sliced and mixed with about half the volume of grated coconut. Sliced onions , maldive fish, pepper and  green
chillies are then added to suit the taste required. Salt and lime juice must be added just before it goes to the
table.
When the mixture is cooked under low heat and eaten it is called a ‘mallung’.

2.    Porridge
Gotukola porridge is another favourite among the Asians. The leaves are processed in a blender and when the juice is extracted and added to any kind of porridge it becomes a very tasty and nutritious breakfast.

 

Food value

 

Nutrient

Malaysia

Kenya

 

Energy

37.0Kcal.

38.9Kcal

 

Protein

2.0%

9.94g

 

Carbohydrate

6.7%

51.9g

 

Fat

0.2%

 

 

K

0.4g

 

 

Ca

0.2g

 

 

Vitamin

 

 

 

A

442 μg

---

 

B1 

0.1mg

-----

 

B2

0.2mg

-----

 

C

48.5mg

9.7mg

 

niacin

0.1mg

------

 

carotine

2.6g

1.0g

 

Fe

21mg

32mg

 

P

5.6mg

370mg

 

Ca

 

1.1g

 

fibre

1.8%

18.3g

 

ash

 

 

 

Moisture

1.6%

84.7%

 

 

Putra Infoport, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia Hashim, P

 

(KIRDI 2009- Laboratory analysis report on Centella asiatica)

3University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197 Nairobi, Kenya

 

 

 Healing wounds

 Applying the fresh leaves or in a crushed form to wounds have been proved to have a rapid healing effect and also to minimise the scar formation.  This is supposed to be for due to the presence of two chemicals asiaticoside and madecassoside.
(Sources: Biotechnology Letters, June 2008, ePublication; Planta Medica, June 2008, pages 809-815; )


Extra ordinary benefits.


Search the web; you are bound to come across miraculous benefits of this herb. Here are a few of them.


1.    “Skin ageing appears to be principally related to a decrease in the levels of type I collagen, the primary component of the skin dermis. Type I collagen is also known to impart tensile strength to skin. In vitro evaluations have demonstrated the receptorial activity of Asiaticoside on collagen synthesis. Clinical evaluations confirm its anti-wrinkle efficacy”
2.    “Gotu Kola can be used to increase brain function, improve concentration, learning skills and memory retention capabilities.”                                                                                   (In India, Gotu Kola, an Ayurvedic herb, is called Mandookaparni. There, an impressive study dealt with the effect of gotu kola on general mental ability of mentally retarded children. Whole plants were dried in the shade, powdered, and made into 1/2 gram tablets. Half of the thirty children studied were given one gotu kola tablet and half a placebo tablet daily. Apart from nutritional deficiencies, the children had no major illnesses. A Binet-Kamat test was administered and the children's Intelligence Quotients were recorded. Separate tests were also administered to record any changes in the children's co-operation, memory, concentration, attention, vocabulary and overall adjustment. After three months, the tests were repeated.

The findings showed that youngsters taking gotu kola had increased their powers of concentration and attention.[5]]”

3.    “In Chinese medicine, it is known as the longevity plant for its remarkable rejuvenating qualities and that it will increase the vitality of an 80 year-old person to that of a 40 year-old.”

4.    “Gotu Kola has a positive effect on circulation, improving the flow of blood throughout the body and strengthening the veins and capillaries. It may also be used to support the heart by lowering high blood pressure, promote healthy liver and kidney functions, and to relieve symptoms of neuritis and rheumatism”

5.    “Another Indian study showed that gotu kola extracts administered over a period of 42 months to normal healthy adults in the 45-50 age group had several benefits: haemoglobin increased by a significant percent, and the mean levels of blood urea and serum acid phosphatase were decreased. Subsequent examinations have revealed that this herb has brought about a steady increase in blood sugar level (statistically significant).[6] A relationship between hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar levels, and mood swings, mental illness, fatigue, depression, confusion and schizophrenic tendencies is well documented. Dr. Heinerman feels that perhaps the 'memory enhancing' attributes of gotu kola may be attributed to the herb's ability to elevate blood sugar levels markedly.”

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