Centella Asiatica for Healthier Skin: Benefits and Uses

The History of Centella Asiatica

Centella is the official botanic denomination of this peculiar plant. In Asia, it has many names — Mandukaparni, Brahmamanduki, Ondelaga, Ekuparni, Timori, Indian pennywort, and dozens of others, the most well-known being Gotu Kola. In India, Africa, and China, Centella asiatica has been considered practically a panacea for thousands of years. 

Traditional Chinese, Malaysian, and Indian medicine has been using this medicinal herb for over 3000 years at any given time. It is mentioned in the most ancient manuscripts. The tiger grass legend has it that people were taught to use Centella by an Asian tiger. The wounded animals would find a spot where Centella grows and rolls in it, quickly healing their wounds, and the second name of tiger grass was born. 

An ancient Sinhalese saying goes: Eat two leaves of mandukparni a day, and you’ll cheat age. Ayurveda puts Centella asiatica in the brahma category — a plant of higher order, able to prolong life.

Centella leaves are shaped somewhat similar to the human brain with its two hemispheres, which, according to the Ayurveda followers, means that the Centella plant helps preserve wisdom for many years. 

Spiritual and Mental Benefits of Centella Asiatica

For centuries, ancient civilizations have been using medicinal plants to heal the body, mind, and spirit. Among the many herbs used for spiritual benefits is Centella.

The plant is popularly known as the “herb of longevity”, widely used in Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine practices. It contains active compounds that can help alleviate anxiety and depression and promote relaxation.

One of the most significant spiritual benefits of Gotu Kola extracts is the ability to combat stress and anxiety. The centella asiatica herb works by reducing cortisol levels, a hormone that triggers stress in the body.

Also, the herb is known for its cognitive benefits, such as improving memory, concentration, and brain function. A study has shown that consuming Gotu Kola extracts for two months can increase blood circulation in the brain, which improves its function.

The herb’s antioxidant properties also help in reducing the damage caused by free radicals that can hinder cognitive abilities. Some people say it improves mental clarity, enhances intuition, and awakens spiritual energy.

Gotu Kola is believed to help improve focus and concentration, making it easier to meditate or engage in spiritual practices that require mental clarity. By controlling antioxidant levels, it promotes a sense of calm and mental clarity. Centella asiatica may help people connect more deeply with their spirituality, regardless of their specific belief system.

How Centella Asiatica Products Were Introduced to Dermatology

One of the most incredible stories about studying centella’s properties happened in the 1930s. A French botanist, Pierre Boiteau, was very fond of Madagascar. Once, he was invited by Doctor Charles Grimes to visit the leprosarium Manankavaly — one of the infamous Madagascar “attractions” of the time.

Boiteau was the only European who spoke Malagasy, the local tongue, which helped him gain the trust of the local wise man, who treated the lepers with traditional remedies never used in Western medicine. Boiteau was able to identify six plants used by the healer. Centella Asiatica was one of them. 

The headstrong botanist insisted on an official pharmacological review and more research on the healing properties of traditional medicine, and the clinical trials began in 1937. In 5 years, in 1942, another Frenchman, a chemist named Bontemps, discovered in Centella leaves extract substances, which he called asiaticoside and madecassoside.

In 1942, Bontemps, in collaboration with a Madagascar scientist, Albert Rakoto Ratsimamanga, released the first healing ointment based on Centella Asiatica, which they called Madecassol. This medicine became so popular that the money from its sales was enough for the creators to establish the Malagasy Institute of Applied Research, which is still open today. In 1982, the Madagascar Post Office printed a special stamp to honor Boiteau’s contribution. 

At the end of the XX century, modern science confirmed that Malagasy healers were right — asiaticoside and madecassoside are, in fact, able to destroy lepra mycobacteria, the agent of leprosy. It turned out that it could also be used to treat another formidable infection known for its drug resistance — cutaneous tuberculosis. 

What Is Madecassoside?

Madecassoside has recently become trendy because of its active promotion as an ingredient in new skin-care products addressing sensitive and mature skin. Despite its similar source and very similar function, asiaticoside was less fortunate and stayed less known to the public.

Ironically, Asiaticoside was described first by Boiteau, so it had a fair glory almost a hundred years earlier. Madecassoside is one of the main terpenoids found in the extract of Centella Asiatica, with prominent anti-inflammatory properties.

With its proven effectiveness and positive mechanism of action, madecassoside can relieve sensitive or atopic and psoriasis-prone skin according to its anti-inflammation effect. A study by La Roche Posay reviewed the anti-aging properties of 0.1% Madecassoside combined with 5% Vitamin C. After 6 months, the result showed a significant improvement in fine lines, wrinkles, firmness, and roughness.

Asiaticoside acts similarly, promoting the repair of damaged skin, but it is mainly used due to its ability to remove scars, wound healing activity, and reduce wrinkles. Both of these twin ingredients are widely used for soothing and moisturizing skin, as well as for anti-aging and anti-wrinkle formulations.

Moreover, studies in vitro show that Asiaticoside stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid and the synthesis of collagen I type, also called youth collagen. However, asiaticoside and madecassoside have some differences in skincare.

The study indicates that the inhibitory effect of Centella asiatica on the proliferation of scar fibroblasts is from strong to weak in the order of Madecassic acid> Asiatic acid> Madecassoside> Asiaticoside.

That means the healing-wounds effect of Madecassoside is slightly more potent than that of Asiaticoside but still less prominent than the effect of madecassic and Asiatic acids, also extracted from Centella and even less known to press that asiaticoside. 

Madecassoside has been implicated as a promising treatment for the skin condition vitiligo, an acquired pigmentary disorder of the skin and mucous membranes that is characterized by chronic and progressive loss of melanocytes from the epidermis and the follicular reservoir.

Evidence shows that oxidative stress caused by H2O2 is a major contributor to the onset and progression of vitiligo. An experimental study to test the effects of Centella asiatica on oxidative stress in human melanocytes demonstrated that madecassoside could protect the mitochondrial structure against ROS overproduction and attenuate the overall oxidative damage in melanocytes via the activation of autophagy. 

Also, Madecassoside is confirmed to significantly protect the skin against acne inflammation by inhibiting the production of pro‐inflammatory cytokines. Moreover, madecassoside can notably increase hydration and moisturizing of the skin both in vitro and in vivo, proving to be medically and cosmetically beneficial.

Where you find madecassoside as a common ingredient in cosmetic products: 

  • Sensitive skin care products
  • Anti-acne skincare
  • Menopausal skincare
  • Anti-wrinkle solutions
  • Hand skin care products
  • Moisturizing and hydrating skincare

Centella Asiatica Plant Use in Skincare

Centella plant extract is favored for the wide variety of its wound-healing effects on the skin. The main reactants of Centella Asiatica are saponins or triterpene compounds, one of them being asiaticoside and madecassoside, mentioned earlier.

Besides those, the plant contains sterols, tannins, flavonoids, fatty acids, and even amino acids (lysine, alanine, serine, amino butyrate, aspartate, glutamate, and threonine). One of the saponin’s qualities is its ability to impact collagen production (type I and III).

Some scientists say that the use of the whole plant is more beneficial than the use of one of the active substances extracted from it as a whole range of active molecules produced by plants acts in natural synergy, improving skin health globally. 

Phytosterols, fatty acids, and amino acids help restore the skin’s barrier functions and its natural ability to retain moisture while reducing skin sensitivity. This means that using centella asiatica products helps with improving skin hydration as well as lowering skin irritation.

Today, it is confirmed that centella has not only moisturizing and antiinflammatory properties but a healing effect as well. The use of

Centella asiatica cream strengthens the capillaries and helps restore damaged or varicose veins. 

The regular use of solutions with Centella Asiatica herb helps blood vessels become less fragile and less permeable, thus restoring circulation even in the smallest capillaries, which is especially important for mature and damaged skin.

Centella also reduces puffiness and draws excessive liquid out of the skin and hypodermic fatty tissue, which allows it to be used for cellulite treatment, among other things. Also, it was found to be an efficient solution for atopic dermatitis, which can be explained by the anti-inflammatory properties of Centella Asiatica.

It is one of the rare cosmetic ingredients able to alleviate symptoms of retinoic dermatitis in patients during systemic retinoic treatment, such as Roaccutane and others. 

Where You Can Find Centella Asiatica in Skincare

The plant can be used in cosmetic formulations of:

  • Sensitive skincare products
  • Rosacea skincare
  • Eye care for puffy eyes and dark circles
  • Anti-acne skincare
  • Couperosis treatment
  • Menopausal skincare
  • Anti-wrinkles solutions
  • Hand skincare products
  • Moisturising skincare
  • Post-care recommended to use after high-intensity aesthetic treatments or surgery
  • Anti-cellulite skincare
  • Face and body sculpting skincare
  • Dermatological skincare formulations: atopic dermatitis, acne, vitiligo, and others.

The wisdom of Indian tigers is confirmed by modern science — Gotu Kola or Centella Asiatica is indeed a real potential herbal cure-all for the skin. 

How to Find Madecassoside and Centella Asiatica? Read the Label: 

Source of: Centella Asiatica Extract. INCI: Centella Asiatica Extract.

Other names: Asiatischer Wassernabel, Asiatischer Wassernabel-Extrakt, Centellae Asiatica- Extrakt, Extractum Centellae Asiaticae, Extractum Hydrocotyle Asiaticae, Hydrocotyle, Hydrocotyle Asiatica, Hydrocotyl Extract, Tigergras, Tigerkraut, Madecassoside, Extrait d’herbe du tigre. 

Recommended concentration:

• 0.00002–0,5%. 

Meder Skincare Products with Centella Asiatica

In Meder, we use Centella Asiatica from ancient Madagascar plantations. It was never treated by chemicals, and plants from Madagascar are proven to be highly concentrated in Asiatic and madecassic acids as well as in madecassoside and asiaticoside.

This plant extract is one of the natural treasures of this beautiful island, helping local communities and wildlife's protection. 

Meder Products that contain plant extract include:

  • Soin-Apax serum for sensitive skin based on Centella asiatica used in a very high concentration of 0.89%. This unique antioxidant serum calms down sensitivity in all skin conditions, including acne, atopic, or damaged skin. Also, it is a part of the rosacea skincare range, helping to reduce skin’s redness and irritation, as well as the visual appearance of spider veins. We recommend using it twice a day on a daily basis for individuals with sensitive skin or skin conditions. Also, it is highly recommended as post-care after high-intensity treatment, such as laser or RF therapy and chemical peels. Helps alleviate retinoic dermatitis during Accutane or other systemic retinoid treatment. 
  • Red-Apax mask for redness and sensitive skin. Awarded as the best calming mask by the Attracta Beauty Award, it helps to restore skin comfort immediately, reducing redness, minor itching, or irritation in 20 minutes. It moisturizes and soothes skin and helps restore a natural skin barrier and protection, efficiently decreasing skin’s sensitivity. Recommended for weekly use. 
  • Lipo-Oval mask for face puffiness and face sculpting. Another awarded face mask that helps to eliminate an excess of water, reduce fat volume, and sculpt face features. Hydrating and comforting, it is a real after-party S.O.S. solution, but also a great aesthetic treatment. Featured in Forbes UK as a part of a recognized aesthetic face sculpting treatment, it helps to restore and maintain a fresh look in people who are overweight as well as in people following weight management programs. Prevents loss of skin elasticity, also known as “Ozempic face.” Recommended for weekly use.
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