Indian pennywort is a creeping herbaceous plant that prefers a moist habitat and is found near reservoirs and streams. This pantropical species is commonly found in India and throughout Sri Lanka, Madagascar, China, South Africa, the southeastern United States, Mexico, Venezuela, and Colombia. It is possible that Centella asiatica is identical with the medicinal plant called manduk-pani in the Sanskrit text of Susruta (ca. 1200 bc), and today it is used not only in Ayurvedic medicine, but in a large number of medical systems, for a great variety of diseases, and throughout its native range. The major application of C. asiatica has been in the treatment of leprous lesions, first reported in 1887. The active triterpenoid principles were identified 70 years later, but in clinical trials have only been found to be effective in aiding wound healing, vein problems, and striae gravidarum (stretch marks of pregnancy). Standardized extracts of C. asiatica are today incorporated into various ointments and tablets. Other potential pharmaceutical uses are also currently being investigated.
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