Latin name Centella asiatica, Hydrocotyle asiatica
Family: Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) Also known as Indian pennywort, tiger grass and gotu kola
The Plant One of about twenty species of low growing perennials, Centella asiatica is a perennial herb found in India and islands in the Indian ocean from Madgascar to Indonesia.
The plant has small kidney shaped leaves up to 5cm (2 inches) across with indented margins on long running stems and has umbels having very small pink flowers soprne beneath the foliage in the summer.
Height is 15-20 cm (6-8 inches). It is known to contain an essential oil but this is not extracted. Hydrocotyle resembles the related European marsh pennywort (Hydrocotyle vulgaris) in appearance.
The Oil A macerated oil is available; sweet almond oil is normally used as a base.
Folk-lore and Traditional Plant Uses
Used in India since antiquity to treat dermatitis, to aid the healing of superficial wounds (this healing property is now thought to be associated with asiaticoside) and for care of the skin.
Centella extracts are used topically in the treatment of surgical wounds and minor burns, and as a complementary treatment of leg ulcers of venous origin because it improves circulation of the lower limbs.
Orally it is used to relieve symptoms of venous and lymphatic insufficiency (Bruneton 1995). It is thought that this oil stimulates regeneration of the skin and loss of elasticity.
It has long been used to aid meditation in India and has been used both there and in Africa for leprosy (Bown 1995) and entered into the French pharmacopoeia via Madagascar. Indian pennywort oil has a reputation for longevity and for treating cellulite.
Reference: Carrier Oils For Aromatherapy & Massage: Len Price with Ian Smith & Shirley Price