Hydrocotyle asiatica / Waternavel

Hydrocotyle asiatica (Aziatische waternavel). Centella asiatica of ook wel Gotu Kola genoemd, is afkomstig uit Zuid-Azië, Madagascar of India. Daar word de plant al heel lang gewaardeerd vanwege zijn verjongende en vitaliteit verhogende eigenschappen. Geroemd omdat het de concentratie bij ouderen verbetert en het geheugen bevordert. In de Ayurvedische kruidengeneeskunde is dit één van de belangrijkste planten en wordt Brahmi of in de volksmond mandukarpani (‘als een kikker’) genoemd. Dit omdat de wortels uit de bodem omhoog komen en in een halve boog weer in de grond verdwijnen. In China heet deze plant Fo ti tieng (lang leef kruid) en zou de energie en levenslust doen terugkomen als men moe en lusteloos is. Gotu kola is a creeping, low-growing (4-18 inches), perennial herb bearing fan-shaped, tasteless, odorless green leaves on thin stems and small white to purplish-pink flowers.1-3 It commonly grows in damp, swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, South Africa, and Central and South America,1,2 and is widespread throughout tropical and subtropical Asian countries including Bhutan, China, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Thailand, and Vietnam.4 Most commercial material originates from India, but the finest quality is thought to come from Madagascar.2 In Europe and North America, the plant part most often used for medicinal purposes consists of the dried aerial parts collected during the flowering period.2 The dried whole plant (root, stems, leaves, and fruits) is used in the traditional Chinese and Indian Ayurvedic systems of medicine.5,6

Gotu kola should not be confused with cola (Cola nitida, Sterculiaceae), aka kolanut, the seeds of which contain caffeine and are used in cola beverages.1 Gotu kola contains no caffeine and is not a stimulant.1,3 It should also be noted that in India, gotu kola is commonly adulterated or substituted with bacopa (Bacopa monnieri, Scrophulariaceae). Both are sold commonly in Indian markets under the same vernacular name Brahmi. Although official Ayurvedic texts are clear that Brahmi is the Sanskrit name for bacopa (whole plant) while Mandukaparni is the Sanskrit name for gotu kola (whole plant), Mandukaparni is also the regional name used for bacopa in the Hindi and Kanada languages, respectively, and both plant materials are named Brahmi in the Urdu language, among other vernacular confusions. However, bacopa can be recognized easily by both morphological characteristics and chemical assay.2

Histoy and Cultural Significance

Centella asiatica (syn. Hydrocotyle asiatica) has over 60 common names in addition to those already mentioned; these include pennywort, Indian or water pennywort, marsh penny, ji xue cao, and talepetrako.1,2 Gotu kola, in the the Sri Lankan Singhalese language, means cup-shaped leaf.4 Sri Lankans, noting that elephants, renowned for their longevity, eat the plant, began eating a few leaves a day in hopes of increasing their lifespan.1,7 Gotu kola’s historical use is mentioned in the Chinese Shennong Herbal (circa 1st-2nd century CE). It has been called one of the “miracle elixirs of life” because a Chinese herbalist named Li Ching-Yun, who some believe lived to the age of 197 (but not the 256 or 265 years frequently cited), reportedly used gotu kola regularly.8

Gotu kola has been used as an aphrodisiac and to treat a variety of illnesses including abscesses, asthma, diarrhea, epilepsy, fever, hepatitis, high blood pressure, mental fatigue, stomach ulcers, and syphilis.1-3 It was incorporated into the Indian Pharmacopoeia in the 19th century and accepted by the French as a drug in the 1880s.7

Today, gotu kola is most commonly utilized for a variety of conditions: the treatment of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI, a condition where the leg veins and their valves do not work effectively, impeding blood flow to the heart), burn wounds, stress-related duodenal ulcers, as a stomachic to tone the stomach and improve its function, and for skin conditions such as scleroderma (hardening of the skin and connective tissue), psoriatic arthritis (inflamed scaly skin with swollen, painful joints), and scabies (a parasitic infection caused by a mite).1-3,9 Gotu kola is available as a dried herb or extract, in teas, ointments, tinctures, capsules, tablets, and in cosmetic preparations.3

In Ayurvedic medicine, gotu kola is best known as a mental rejuvenator, or medhya rasayana, a tonic used to reduce mental fatigue and improve mental clarity.10 It is also used for treating various types of skin conditions and internal and external ulcers, as well as for improving blood circulation and reducing edema. The specific therapeutic uses listed in the Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India include the treatment of inflammation, tastelessness, fever, cough, itching, skin diseases, excessive urination, dyspnea (difficult breathing)/asthma, and anemia.11 An important Ayurvedic formulation containing gotu kola is Brahma Rasayana, a complex mixture of herbs and fruits in a paste form, taken with warm milk as a cerebral tonic for mental exhaustion, nervous weakness, insomnia, and memory loss.

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), dried gotu kola whole plant, known as ji xue cao (at dosage of 15-30 g), or fresh plant (at dosage of 30-60 g) is indicated for treating jaundice, heat-stroke with diarrhea, urolithiasis (stones forming in the kidney, bladder, and/ or urethra), hematuria (blood in urine), carbuncles and boils, and traumatic injuries.5

Gotu kola is permitted by regulation in the United States for use in dietary supplements, cosmetics, and homeopathic preparations. In Canada, gotu kola is found as a component in licensed Natural Health Products with the approved claim statement, “Traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine to relieve lack or loss of the appetite for food and to relieve cough.’’12 In the United Kingdom, gotu kola is a General Sale List medicine for external use only.13 In November 2010, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) published a public statement that it is not possible to propose a Community Herbal Monograph for C. asiatica preparations at this time for 2 reasons: (1) Although the medicinal use of titrated extract of C. asiatica (TECA) has been established for at least 30 years in Europe, EMA has decided that TECA (commercially known as Madecassol® or Centellase® or Blastoestimulina®) cannot be classified as an herbal preparation; it is a highly purified extract, fractioned and enriched in triterpenic acid and triterpenic sugar ester fractions to reach about 40% asiaticoside and 60% triterpenic genins (asiatic acid and madecassic acid). The purification steps involve chemical treatments that remove the herbal matrix. (2) Although some data are available on other gotu kola preparations, the available data was deemed insufficient for the development of a labeling standards monograph at this time.14 There is, however, an official European Pharmacopoeia quality standards monograph for the dried, fragmented, aerial parts of C. asiatica, containing minimum 6.0% of total triterpenoid derivatives, expressed as asiaticoside.15 As of 2011, 4 new gotu kola dietary supplement quality standards monographs are proposed for inclusion in the United States Pharmacopeia 34th Revision: Centella Asiatica, Powdered Centella Asiatica, Powdered Centella Asiatica Extract, and Centella Asiatica Triterpenes.16

Meer info en referenties bij Maurice Godefridi vlaamseherboristen@gmail.com

Hydrocotyle vulgaris / Gewone waternavel vlgs Phillipijnse monografie

Genus hydrocotyle is an extensive family of almost 100 species of small, inconspicuous marsh herbs. The name "sheep rot" came from a false belief that it causes the "liver rot" when eaten by sheep; the real culprit proving to be liver fluke which lives in the plant. It has more than a century of recorded folkloric medicinal use.


Pennyworth is a creeping or floating perennial herb. Stems are slender, creeping, rooting at the nodes. Leaf stalk is attached to the leaf blade in the center of the under-surface. Leaves have long and slender petioles, glossy, dark green, crenate, peltate to orbicular, 6 to 9 veined, up to 4 cm across. Flowers are white, tinged with pink to purplish green, 1 millimeter, subsessile, 3 to 6 in a simple head-like umbel, 3 millimeters across, sometimes with 1 to 3 whorls of flowers below..


- Recently introduced to the Philippines.

- Grows wells in marshy and acidic soil.

- Provides good ground cover.

- Propagated by cuttings and seeds.


- Study isolated an amorphous saponin designated as

hydrocotyle-saponin B. (6)

- GC-MS analysis of stem, flowers and leaves (S, F, L) for essential oil yielded 15 components viz., hexenal, (2E)-hexenal, 3-hexen-1-ol, santalene, ß-farnesene, ß cubebene, y-muurolene, ß-bisabolene, y-sesquiphellandrene, nerolidol, caryophyllene oxid, ledol, Z-α-bisabolene epoxide, glubulol, epi-globulool, 5,5-dimethyl-4-(3-methyl-1,3,butadienyl)-1-oxapirol[2.5]octane. (see study below) (10)


- Considered vulnerary.

- Studies have shown cytotoxic and phytoremediative properties.

Parts utilized

Leaves and roots.



- Leaves are cooked; with a strong carrot taste, eaten in limited amounts.


- In Samar, used for diarrhea.

- Subanens of Zamboanga del Sur use decoction of whole plants for cough and kidney stones. (9)

- Elsewhere has a long recorded history of folkloric medicinal use.

- In 1850s, used in India for treatment of leprosy.

- Used for eczema and other dermatologic maladies: scrofula, ulcers.

- Also used for rheumatism, headaches, dizziness, bloody stools.

- Leaves used to dress burns or applied to skin diseases.

- In Malaya, traditionally used for treating wounds and as a diuretic.

- In Danish folk medicine, used for whooping cough.

- Preferred infusion use, 1 ounce of root in 1 pint of fluid, used as 1/2 - 1 fluid ounce 3 - 4 times daily.


• Cytotoxicity: Study showed cytotoxic activity of compounds isolated from the stem and root of H vulgaris, tested against a human erythromyeloblasted leukemia cell line. (2)

• Waste Water Purifying Effect: Study was done to evaluate the removal effects of H. vulgaris on CODCr, nitrogen and phosphorus in municipal domestic wastewater. Results indicated H. vulgaris was adaptable to grow in municipal domestic waste water with good purifying effect and is recommended as a specific aquatic vegetation in phytoremediation of municipal waste water. (3)

• Phytoremediation Potential: Study evaluated the potential of H. vulgaris as an aquatic plant for phytoremediation of C.I. Basic Red 46. Overall, the increase in activity of antioxidant enzymes was much higher in the roots than in the leaves. (7)

• Essential Oil / Antimicrobial Activity / Cytotoxicity: Study of leaves, stems, and flowers for essential oil yielded 16 components. The essential oil was evaluated for antimicrobial activity on E. coli, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus, F- oxysporum and for cytotoxicity on RD, Hep-G2, LU cancer cells. The essential oil of H. vulgaris had weaker bioactivities than H. bonariensis. (see constituents above) (10)

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1)Hydrocotyle.—Water Pennywort

(2)BIOASSAY GUIDED ISOLATION OF CYTOTOXIC COMPOUNDS FROM HYDROCOTYLE VULGARIS / Tee Shin Leong et al / Malaysian Journal of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (2009) 17(1)

(3)Purifying effect of Hydrocotyle vulgaris L. on municipal domestic wastewater / Zhou Yi-pin, Liu Wen et al / Journal of Zhongkai University of Agriculture and Engineering, 2011-02 / DOI: CNKI:SUN:ZNJX.0.2011-02-005

(4) Hydrocotyle vulgaris / Synonyms / The Plant List

(5)Sorting Hydrocotyle names / /Maintained by: Michel H. Porcher / MULTILINGUAL MULTISCRIPT PLANT NAME DATABASE / Copyright © 1995 - 2020 / A Work in Progress. School of Agriculture and Food Systems. Faculty of Land & Food Resources. The Univers ity of Melbourne. Australia.

(6)The Glycosidic Constituents of Hydrocotyle Vulgaris L / Chr. J. K. Mink / Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, Volume 11, Issue 1, pages 244–247, September 1959 / DOI: 10.1111/j.2042-7158.1959.tb12550.x

(7)Potential of Hydrocotyle vulgaris for phytoremediation of a textile dye: Inducing antioxidant response in roots and leaves / F. Vafaei, Ali Movafeghi, Alireza Khataee, Seyed Yahya Salehi Lisar / ECOTOXICOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL SAFETY 93 · MAY 2013 / DOI: 10.1016/j.ecoenv.2013.03.035

(8)Nutrient enrichment alters impacts of Hydrocotyle vulgaris invasion on native plant communities / Lin Liu, Han Quan, Bi-Cheng Dong, Xiang-Qi Bu, Lin Li, Fu-De Liu, Guang-Chun Lei, and Hong-Li Lia / Sci Rep. 2016; 6: 39468 / doi: 10.1038/srep39468


Medicinal Plants of the Subanens in Dumingag, Zamboanga del Sur, Philippines / Lady Jane G. Morilla, Nanette Hope N. Sumaya, Henry I. Rivero and Ma. Reina Suzette B. Madamba / International Conference on Food, Biological and Medical Sciences (FBMS-2014) Jan. 28-29, 2014 Bangkok (Thailand)

(10) CONTRIBUTION TO THE STUDY ON CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS OF HYDROCOTYLE VULGARIS (L.), APIACEAE / Ton Nu Lien Huong, Nguyen Kim Phi Phung, Nguyen Ngoc Suong / Science & Technology Development, Vol 12, No.10- 2009