Christine Irven, CPL Hong Kong
Centella asiatica, also known as gotu kola, pennywort or pegaga, is a perennial herb native to many tropic and subtropical climates in the Asia Pacific region. Thriving in or around water, it carries green, rounded leaves atop long stems. The flowers are presented in beautiful tiny bunches that can be white or a light pink-purple in color.
Centella has been used for centuries in traditional medicines across Asia. From China to India to Indonesia, centella is used in natural remedies and cosmetic products for its therapeutic properties and numerous health benefits. It is comprised of a super-blend of nutrients that are beneficial for the skin, promoting anti-aging, healing and regeneration. Centella can be taken in many forms including dried herb, capsule, tea and extract. It is also popular in many Far Eastern cuisine, being added to curries, side dishes, salads and herbal drinks.
The herb has been revered throughout history as a miracle elixir as it is rich in antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins, amino acids and more. In China, it is referred to as the ‘fountain of life’ and is used in Traditional Chinese Medicine for its ability to promote longevity and cure illness. It is even said that elephants live long lives from eating this plant. Whether taken in herbal tea or cosmetic products, centella is favoured for its potent skin care benefits and ability to promote youthfulness through its anti-aging, brightening, firming and tightening properties.
In India, centella is used in Ayurvedic medicine to heal skin ailments, like eczema, and to help soothe inflammation. In fact, centella is often referred to as Tiger Grass or Tiger Herb as ancient Laotian legend has it that tigers would rub their wounds on the leaves for faster healing. In Malaysia and Indonesia, the leaves are used in herbal tonic drinks to promote inner as well as outer beauty, while maintaining health. It is thought to improve mental focus, clarity and increase memory retention.
Centella is considered a ‘balancing’ tonic that relaxes the body, creating a calming effect to help encourage sleep or meditation. Carrying these associations with mental clarity and calmness, ingredients like centella are sought-after solutions to the worldwide issue of anxiety.
A favorite in traditional remedies, centella is now gaining global attention as beauty brands promote its many benefits for skin – further fueled by consumers eager to discover ancient cures, the next ‘super ingredient’ or natural beauty remedy. As the creation of many beauty products continues to be informed by concepts around wellness and holistic approaches, such ingredients become more important in a brand’s claim.
Whether it be local cosmetic brands in Southeast Asia, K-beauty innovation or luxury skincare companies across the globe, centella has become one of the latest hot ingredients in the beauty industry. Brands are catching on to centella’s regenerative, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. For example, centella is highlighted in many firming creams, as it known to help stimulate blood circulation and collagen production in skin. Furthermore, centella is full of antioxidants, which are known to protect against free radical damage, thus making it a top choice in anti-aging formulas.
Centella appeals not only to local consumers through natural beauty remedies, but also to those searching for unique ingredients paired with modern science in premium skincare formulas.