Asiatic Pennywort in traditional medicine
From Health and Wellness
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Asiatic Pennywort (Centella asiatica) is a small herbaceous annual plant that is used as a medicinal herb in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional African medicine, and traditional Chinese medicine. In India, it has long been used as an aid to meditation, apart from its use as a medicine.
Asiatic Pennywort is recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as one of the most important medicinal plant species to be conserved and cultivated. Commercial production is presently limited to two countries, Sri Lanka and Madagascar.
2. Plant description: Asiatic Pennywort is a small, slender, creeping herb. It has long-stalked, green leaves with rounded apices. Its bisexual flowers grows in clusters near the surface of the soil. Each flower is minute in size, being less than 3 mm (0.1 in), and of pinkish to red color. Rhizomes grow vertically downwards, while shoots grow horizontally, interconnecting one plant with another.
Asiatic Pennywort is easily propagated asexually by using rhizomes with at least one to 2 nodes. It prefers some shade, as well as moist, sandy loam soils, with high organic matter. Harvesting can be done after 60 days of planting. The whole plant, including its roots, is normally harvested when the leaves reach full size of about 4 cm (1.5 in) wide. Asiatic Pennywort do not have many pest and disease problems. Its major pest are snails, white flies, and spider mites.
3. Medicinal properties: Asiatic Pennywort is valued for its following medicinal properties:
- antianxiety to treat anxiety, and its related psychological and physical symptom;
- antibacterial and antifungal;
- antidepressant to alleviate mood disorders;
- anti-fertility to reduce fertility;
- anti-inflammatory to reduce inflammation;
- antimitotic to prevent or interfere with mitosis (cell division) in cancer patients;
- antipyretic to relieve or reduce fever;
- antispasmodic to suppress muscle spasms;
- diuretic to promote the flow of urine;
- hypotensive to lower blood pressure;
- sedative to induce sedation by reducing irritability or excitement; and
- insecticidal to kill insects.
4. Uses in traditional medicine: This herb is referred to as a rejuvenating medicament and often consumed as a cooling drink and brain tonic. Its leaves are eaten raw or finely cut and roasted with scraped coconut. They are believed to be good for mothers who have just given birth, as well as for preserving youthfulness. Because of its bitter taste, the paste and juice are always taken along with equal quantities of honey. In India, the leaves are dried, powdered, and taken with milk to improve memory and as tonics. When taken in excess, however, fresh leaves can cause dizziness.
Asiatic Pennywort has been used for treating: Minor ailments:
- sores, wounds, bruises, boils, ulcerations and abscesses, using a poultice of leaves or juice from the roots;
- fever, using leaves pounded into a paste and then applied to the body;
- common cold;
- sore throat, pharyngitis, and cough;
- tonsilitis (inflammation of the tonsils most commonly caused by viral or bacterial infection; symptoms include sore throat and fever);
- stye and acute conjunctivitis;
- excessive secretion of gastric juices;
- edema (abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body)
- leukorrhea (thick, whitish or yellowish vaginal discharge); and
- napkin rash and anus rash in babies.
More serious ailments:
- acute enteritis (inflammation of the small intestine);
- asthma (chronic inflammatory disease of the bronchial airways);
- bronchitis (inflammation of the mucous membranes of the bronchi);
- chronic eczema (inflammation of the epidermis, the outer layer of the skin);
- chronic rheumatism (medical problems affecting the joints and connective tissue);
- dysentery (inflammatory disorder of the intestine, especially of the colon, resulting in severe diarrhea containing mucus and/or blood in the feces, with fever and abdominal pain);
- enlargement of glands;
- glaucoma (an eye disorder in which the optic nerve suffers damage, permanently damaging vision in the affected eye(s) and progressing to complete blindness, if untreated);
- hepatitis (inflammation of the liver);
- high blood pressure;
- kidney diseases;
- leprosy (a chronic disease caused by the bacteria Mycobacterium leprae, forming silvery scales on the skin and eating away affected parts);
- mastitis (inflammation of breast tissue);
- measles (a viral infection of the respiratory system);
- mumps (inflammation of the parotid glands, the largest of the salivary glands, caused by a virus);
- secondary and tertiary syphilis with ulceration;
- shingles (a disease of the nerves);
- skin diseases;
- snake bites;
- uremia (illness accompanying kidney failure);
- urethritis (inflammation of the urethra, causing painful or difficult urination); and
- urinary tract infections and kidney stones.
5. Clinical trials: Clinical tests have substantiated many of the positive benefits of Asiatic Pennywort extracts in the healing of skin wounds, burns, and skin diseases, as well as in the treatment of stomach and duodenal ulcers, leprosy, lupus, scheroderma, diseases of the veins, and hypertension.