Indian Pennywort(Thankuni)

Botanical Name: Centella asiatica

Indian Name: Khulakudi or Brahmamanduki


Grows in the warmer regions of both hemispheres, it is a slender, creeping plant abundant in swampy areas of India, Sri Lanka, China, South Africa and in tropical areas of Central and South America.

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Active Constituents:
Flavonoids, glycosides ,saponin glycosides, triterpenoids (asiaticosides)

Medicinal Actions:
Adaptogen, alterative, anti-pyretic, anti-spasmodic, diuretic, nervine, tonic, vulnerary

Medicinal Uses:
Centella is well known as a tonic in Chinese medicine. It is considered to be bitter, pungent, with cold properties entering the spleen, liver and kidney meridians. It is said to clear heat and promote water metabolism and is a yin tonic.

Centella is known to increase the tensile binding strength of connective tissue and to reduce scar tissue formation associated with wound healing. It has demonstrated wound-healing action in treatment of dermal ulcers, dermal tuberculosis and leprosy. It is also said to promote longevity in a manner similar to Panax ginseng and Ganoderma. It is shown to have action in the immune system to reduce fever, has been use as a “blood cleanser”. Some ability to act as an anti-microbial has been demonstrated in tests on animals.

It has been used as a trophorestorative, which means it has a sedative action to reduce anxiety, yet helps focus thinking and to promote memory. It is said to calm the mental chatter, promoting calm and clarity. It probably has this action due the adaptogenic action of restoring the normal stress response in maladapted individuals.
Infusion: 1 Tbl/cup H2O BID – TID
Tincture (1:5): 2-5 ml TID
Fluid Extract (1:1.5, 1:3): 1-4 ml TID
Powder Extract: 100 mg – 200 mg TID

Origin, Distribution and Composition:
Indian pennywort is a perennial wild creeper which grows horizontally and is small and smooth. It has slender branches and small internodes. A number of leaves shoot out at each node on the upper. side and numerous roots grow into the soil at each node. The creeper thus has abundant leaf growth and new plants shoot out of various nodes.

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The leaves of the plant are simple or of one blade, thickish, almost round or kidney-shaped and yellowish green in color. The fruits are small, flat circular and hard. The fresh leaves have an aroma due to the presence of an oily matter called vellarine. The aroma is lost on drying.
The stems are slender, creeping stolons, green to reddish green in color, interconnecting one plant to another. It has long-stalked, green, reniform leaves with rounded apices which have smooth texture with palmately netted veins. The leaves are borne on pericladial petioles, around 20 cm. The rootstock consists of rhizomes, growing vertically down. They are creamish in color and covered with root hairs.

The flowers are pinkish to red in color, born in small, rounded bunches (umbels) near the surface of the soil. Each flower is partly enclosed in two green bracts. The hermaphrodite flowers are minute in size (less than 3 mm), with 5-6 corolla lobes per flower. Each flower bears five stamens and two styles. The fruit are densely reticulate, distinguishing it from species of Hydrocotyle which have smooth, ribbed or warty fruit.

The crop matures in three months and the whole plant, including the roots, is harvested manually.

Indian pennywort is indigenous to India. It was known to Sanskrit writers from ancient times. This plant is found throughout India both in the plains and hilly tracts upto 2000 metres. It grows abundantly in moist areas and river banks, thriving in shade.

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Several other substances have been isolated from the herb, These include an essential oil, a fatty oil, sitosterol, tannin and a resinous substance. The dry plant yields an alkaloid, hydrocotylin. The leaves and roots contain a bitter principle, vellarine, pectic acid and resin. The leaves of the plant have a mixed taste-sweet, sour, astringent and bitter. The cellulose content is very low.

Uses : : It is Tonic, Diuretic and Alterative. It is used in treatment of leporasy and known to ameliorate the symptoms of the disease and improves general health of the patient. It is a brain tonic and stimulates hair growth.

Healing Power and Curative Properties

The herb corrects the disordered processes of nutrition, by which organism ingests, digests, absorbs, utilizes and excretes food substances and restores the normal function of the system. It counteracts inflammation and is a mild purgative. It also increases the secretion and discharge of urine.

All the parts of the creeper are used both for therapeutic and culinary purposes.

Improving Memory
The leaves of the Indian pennywort are considered beneficial in improving memory. The powder of the leaves taken with milk in small doses for this purpose helps in correcting the disorders.

Dysentery in Children
The leaves of the plant are an effective remedy in the early stages of dysentery in children. Three or four leaves can be taken with cumin and sugar in addition to applying a paste of the leaves on the navel.

Bowel Complaints
In case of bowel complaints amongst children, half a cup of an infusion of its leaves with fenugreek (methi) can be taken, in a single dose.

Nervous Disorders
The herb is effective in nervous disorders including nervous debility. A powder of the leaves dried in shade and taken in doses of 3 to 6 decigrams, thrice a day’ for adults, is effective. Reduce the dose to 0.75 to 2.5 decigrams for children.

Female Sterility
Indian pennywort is effective in female sterility when combined with another herb called chotakulpha, (trichodesma Indicim). The two herbs should be uprooted when matured and dried in the shade for use. An equal quantity of both herbs should be taken, powdered with sugar candy in the ratio 2:1. Three grams of this powder should be taken both in the morning and evening with cow’s milk for 3 consecutive days after menstruation. However, the woman using this recipe should be free from menstrual pain, leucorrhoea, obesity or any such disease. If she has any, these should be treated before going in for this remedy.

The drug is useful in treating elephantiasis of the scrotum and legs, which is marked by gross swelling. The juice extracted from a portion of the fresh plant or the dried stem and leaves of the plant ground with water, should be applied locally to the affected parts. A poultice of the fresh leaves or an ointment made of four grams of the leaf extract with 30 grams of lanoline is equally efficacious.

Skin Disorders
Indian pennywort is a common household remedy for skin diseases like chronic and persistent eczema, chronic ulcers and syphilitic sores. A fine powder of the dried leaves can be used as a dust in skin eruptions and syphilic ulcers. To check fever associated with these diseases, the juice of the leaves should be taken thrice a day in doses of I to 5 drops.

Dosage: the drug is generally given as a decoction in doses of 30 to 60 ml or as powder in doses of 21 to 6 decigrams thrice a day. The leaves of the plant can be taken in doses of 30 to 60 grams. The juice of the leaves can be taken in doses of 60 to 100 ml and the decoction of the leaves from 120 to 150 ml.

Precautions: It is advisable to take the raw juice of the leaf in small doses as the juice is very potent and an excess intake may lead to coma.

Other Uses:
The leaves of Indian pennywort have culinary uses too and can be used for making soup, raw chutney, tea, raw juice and chapatis (mixed with wheat flour).

The information presented herein  is intended for educational purposes only.Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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