Pegaga (scientific name Centella Asiatica), also known as Gotu kola or pennywort, is a perennial plant native to tropical countries, particularly countries in Asia such as Malaysia, China and India. In the wild, they are more often spotted in swampy, wet, or moist areas. Though small and slender, the creeping herb can grow under harsh conditions.
These fan-shaped green leaves have a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine. It is even recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) as an important medicinal plant species to be conserved and cultivated.
As a culinary vegetable, pegaga is an ingredient for various local cuisines in Asia, such as Indonesia's Sambai On Peuga-ga, Vietnamese vegetable rolls, and Malay's vegetable salad cuisine - ulam. Centella leaves are also commonly boiled or blended into healthy herbal drinks. This leafy green has a distinctive sweet and bitter flavour of its own. You can also serve them as a stir-fried vegetable dish with just onions and anchovies.
Studies and research have shown that Centella Asiatica leaves contain rich nutrients and minerals. This includes carbohydrate, calcium, potassium, Asiatic acid, crude fibre, vitamin A & C, essential amino acids, iron, beta-carotene, and more.
The plant has been used as a natural herbal remedy for many health-related issues since ancient times. Its content has shown to be helpful against digestive problems, inflammation, leprosy, heart diseases, and even depression and fatigue.
"The presence of these phytochemicals in Centella Asiatica leaves shows that it could serve important physiological function with good nutritional and therapeutic value" (Source: Longdom.org)
More interestingly, Pegaga is also widely used for skin care. It contains properties that promote blood circulation, regulates hormones, facilitates tissue repair and wound healing. Simply said, drinking a brew of Pegaga may very well nourish your skin!
Worried about ageing signs? Need help with skin firming, hydration, and elasticity? Look out for skincare products and nutritional supplements with Centella Asiatica content in it. With properties that speed up collagen synthesis, pegaga extract has become a prevalent ingredient for skincare products.
A brand that recognizes pegaga as a potent cosmetic ingredient is the renowned American cosmetic brand Kiehl's, the 'finest apothecary skincare.' Kiehl's has a range of sensitive skin products formulated with D-Panthenol and Madecassoside from Centella Asiatica that strengthen and repair the skin's barrier, such as the Centella Sensitive Facial Cleanser and Centella Sensitive Cica-Cream.
What is Skin Barrier? "Our skin barrier is our skin's first-line defense that protects our skin from environmental stressors and stimuli." (Wishtrend)
You can also find Centella Asiatica in various cosmetic brands' moisturisers, serums, makeup removers, and anti-pollution creams. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory agents, and terpenoids constituents have made it a popular ingredient for cosmetics.
Pegaga is also said to be able to combat stretch marks and even cellulite problems that are often experienced by women in the thighs, arms, and buttocks where there is a buildup of fat.
"Treatments for cellulite (e.g., caffeine) generally focus on altering fat tissue and connective tissue, as well as improving circulation. Centella Asiatica extracts are able to regulate connective tissue cell metabolism and improve microcirculation." (Science Becomes Her)
There are also a wide variety of products made with pegaga that helps to strengthen hair roots, nourish the scalp, and promote healthier hair and nail growth overall. Rich in amino and fatty acids, beta carotene, and all things great for improving circulation and stimulating growth, pegaga is like your all-in-one beauty solution!
Aside from ointments, the benefits of pegaga can also be observed through the content of oral nutritional supplements (capsule/tincture/powdered).
Indian multinational herbal pharmaceutical Himalaya has manufactured a brain supplement - Gotu Kola Mandukaparni, formulated with pure extract of Centella Asiatica to help boost memory and concentration. Yes, the Asiatic acid compound in Pegaga works as a neuroprotective agent as well!
Are you amazed by the overarching benefits of Pegaga yet?
If you are looking for a superfood herb to grow in your backyard, look no further. This plant that is known for its healing pharmacological properties can easily be planted in a flower pot. How great it is to have this nutritious food and medicinal herb in your own home.
Psst! Rumour has it that pegaga could also instigate weight loss in the long run as it flushes out toxins and boosts energy!
With so much to gain and so little to lose, perhaps it's time to add some pegaga to your menu today!
Disclaimer: This article is not a piece of professional medical advice, nor does it cover all possible uses or adverse effects. If you plan to take Gotu kola for medicinal purposes, speak to your doctor first, especially if you are pregnant or have other existing health issues. Stay on the safe side to always check in with your personal doctor, nutritionist, or dermatologist on what is right for you, as every individual's health condition is unique.