Indian Journal of Pharmacology Home 

[Download PDF]
Year : 2004  |  Volume : 36  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 377--380

Antinociceptive and antiinflammatory effects of Centella asiatica

MN Somchit1, MR Sulaiman2, A Zuraini1, L Samsuddin3, N Somchit3, DA Israf2, S Moin1,  
1 Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
2 Laboratory of Natural Resources, Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor, Malaysia
3 Universiti Industri Selangor, Jalan Zirkon, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia

Correspondence Address:
M N Somchit
Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor


OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the effects of Centella asiatica (CA) upon pain (antinociception) and inflammation in rodent models. MATERIAL AND METHODS: The antinociceptive activity of the water extract of CA (10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg) was studied using acetic acid-induced writhing and hot-plate method in mice. The antiinflammatory activity of CA was studied in rats by prostaglandin E2-induced paw edema. RESULTS: Water extract of CA revealed significant antinociceptive activity with both the models. The activity was statistically similar to aspirin but less potent than morphine. The CA extract also revealed significant antiinflammatory activity. This effect was statistically similar to the non-steroidal antiinflammatory drug, mefenamic acid. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the water extract of CA possesses antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities.

How to cite this article:
Somchit M N, Sulaiman M R, Zuraini A, Samsuddin L, Somchit N, Israf D A, Moin S. Antinociceptive and antiinflammatory effects of Centella asiatica.Indian J Pharmacol 2004;36:377-380

How to cite this URL:
Somchit M N, Sulaiman M R, Zuraini A, Samsuddin L, Somchit N, Israf D A, Moin S. Antinociceptive and antiinflammatory effects of Centella asiatica. Indian J Pharmacol [serial online] 2004 [cited 2021 Oct 26 ];36:377-380
Available from:

Full Text


Centella asiatica (CA) of the family Umbelliferae is commonly found in parts of India, Asia and the Middle East. It is known as 'Pegaga' in Malaysia, 'Luei Gong Gen' or 'Tung Chain' in China, 'Vallarai' in Tamil Nadu (India) and 'Daun Kaki Kuda' in Indonesia.[1] It is a perennial, herbaceous creeper growing up to 30 cm in height with fan-shaped leaves. CA has been used in traditional medicine in Asia for hundreds of years.[2] The major constituents are triterpene saponins, mainly asiaticoside, sapogenin asiatic acid, madecassoside and madecassic acid.[3] In Malaysia, this herb is commonly eaten fresh as a vegetable, especially by Malay communities. It is also believed to have beneficial effects in improving memory, and treating mental fatigue, anxiety and eczema.[4] Ayurvedic medicine has effectively used CA in the treatment of inflammation, anemia, asthma, blood disorders, bronchitis, fever, urinary discharge and splenomegaly.[5]

The aqueous extract of CA possesses antioxidant, cognitive-enhancing and antiepileptic properties.[6] Although this herb has many useful claims, the mechanism of its medicinal effects are not understood. The objectives of this study were to evaluate the antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities of CA extract in mice and rats.

 Material and Methods


Acetic acid, naloxone hydrochloride, prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), aspirin (ASA), mefenamic acid (MA) and other standard laboratory chemicals were obtained from Sigma Chemicals, Dorset, England. All drugs and extracts were dissolved in normal saline prior to use. Morphine sulfate was generously given by the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Plant material and extraction

Centella asiatica whole plant was purchased from a local producer in Selangor, Malaysia and was authenticated by the curator of the phytomedical herbarium, Institute of Bioscience, Universiti Putra Malaysia. Voucher specimen (SK 533/03) was deposited in the herbarium. One kg of wet CA was oven-dried at 50o C for 24 h and ground to powder. The powder was extracted using distilled water in a Soxlet apparatus according to the previously published method.[7] The resultant extract was freeze-dried and kept at -20o C prior to use.


Adult male ICR Balb/c mice (20-25 g) were used for all the antinociceptive experiments. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats (200-250 g) were used to study the antiinflammatory activity. The animals (five per cage) were maintained under standard laboratory conditions (light period of 12 h/day and temperature 27° C ± 2° C), with access to food and water ad libitum. The experimental procedures were carried out in strict compliance with the Institutional Animal Ethics Committee regulations. All experiments were performed in the morning according to the guidelines for the care of laboratory animals.[8]

Acetic acid-induced writhing

The antinociceptive activity of CA was assessed using writhing test (abdominal constriction test).[9] Acetic acid solution (10 ml/kg, 0.6%) was injected intraperitoneally, and the contraction of abdominal muscles together with stretching of the hind limbs was cumulatively counted over a period of 0.5 h beginning 5 min after acetic acid injection. The extract was administered (0, 10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg, i.p.) 0.5 h before the acetic acid injection. Antinociceptive activity was expressed as the percentage inhibition of abdominal constrictions between control animals and mice pre-treated (n=6) with the extract using the ratio:

(Control mean - Treated mean) x 100 / Control mean

In an attempt to investigate the participation of the opioid system in the antinociceptive effect of this plant extract, separate groups of mice (n=6) were pretreated with non-specific opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone (5 mg/kg, i.p.), injected 15 min before the administration of the extract.

Hot-plate test

The hot-plate test was performed to measure response latencies according to the method previously described.[10] The hot-plate (Model 7280, Ugo Basile, Italy) was maintained at 55.0 ± 0.2° C and the animals were placed into the perspex cylinder on the heated surface and the time (sec) to discomfort reaction (licking paws or jumping) was recorded as response latency, prior to and 30, 60, 120 and 150 min after administration of the extract (0, 10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg, i.p.). A latency period of 20 sec was defined as complete analgesia and the measurement was terminated if it exceeded the latency period in order to avoid injury.

PGE2-induced inflammation

Sprague Dawley rats were divided into 5 groups (n=6/group). Groups 1 and 2 were given saline i.p. Thirty min after saline injection the control group (Group 1) received 0.1 ml of saline at the hind paw and Group 2 received PGE2 (100 IU) through intraplantar route. Groups 3 and 4 received 2 and 4 mg/kg CA extract (i.p.) respectively. This was followed by the administration of PGE2 through the intraplantar route. Group 5 received 10 mg/kg mefenamic acid i.p. prior to PGE2 administration. The paw volume was measured every 0.5 h for 4 h using the method published previously.[11]

Statistical analysis

Numerical results are expressed as mean±SD, unless otherwise stated. One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used for statistical comparison; PEffect of CA extract on the acetic acid-induced writhing

As shown in [Table:1], water extract of CA (10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg, i.p.) showed a significant dose-dependent reduction in the number of writhing with approximately 13%, 45%, 64% and 85% of inhibition respectively. Maximum inhibition was observed at the dose of 300 mg/kg, which was statistically similar to the control drug aspirin (100 mg/kg). Morphine (10 mg/kg) showed the most potent inhibition.

The mechanism of the CA-induced antinociception was investigated using the opioid receptor antagonist, naloxone. The antinociceptive effect induced by the aqueous extract of CA (300 mg/kg) was significantly antagonized by pretreatment with naloxone in the writhing test [Table:1]. Naloxone also inhibited the other doses of CA in this test (data not shown).

Effect of CA extract on hot-plate test

[Table:2] shows the time course of the antinociception produced by the aqueous extract of CA (0, 10, 30, 100 and 300 mg/kg). Intraperitoneal administration of the extract resulted in significant and dose-dependent prolongation of the response latency in the hot-plate test. The effect reached a peak at approximately 60 min after administration and then gradually decreased.

Effect of CA extract on PGE2-induced inflammation

The extracts of CA elicited dose-dependent antiinflammatory activity [Table:3]. At 2 mg/kg concentration, the extract had mild antiinflammatory property. However, at 4 and 10 mg/kg, the antiinflammatory activity was significantly different from the control (Pet al [3] reported bioactive terpene acids such as asiatic acid and madecassic acid from the water-methanol extraction of CA. These phytocompounds may be present in the crude extract of CA that may account for the antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities. The results from this present study strongly indicate that the water extract of CA possesses antinociceptive and antiinflammatory activities. These findings justify the traditional use of this plant in the treatment of inflammatory conditions or rheumatism. Further biological studies using major phytochemicals from CA, asiaticoside, sapogenin asiatic asid, madecassoside and madecassic acid, are suggested to determine the active chemical(s) responsible for these activities of the extract.


This study was supported by the State government of Selangor, Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia.


1Tolkah NM. Genetic variation of Centella asiatica based on randomly amplified Polymorphic DNA. Ethnobotani J 1999;22:7-13.
2Cheng CL, Koo MWL. Effects of Centella asiatica on ethanol induced gastric mucosal lesions in rats. Life Sci 2000;67:2647-53.
3Inamdar PK, Yeole RD, Ghogare AB, de Souza NJ. Determination of biologically active constituents in Centella asiatica. J Chromatography A 1996;742:127-30.
4Hamid AA, Shah ZMd, Musa R, Mohammad S. Characterization of antioxidative activities of various extracts of Centella asiatica (L) Urban. Food Chem 2002;77:465-9.
5Duke JA. Handbook of Medicinal Herbs. 1st Ed. New York: CRC Press; 2001.
6Gupta YK, Veerendra Kumar MH, Srivastava AK. Effect of Centella asiatica on pentylenetetrazole-induced kindling, cognition and oxidative stress in rats. Pharmacol Biochem Behav 2003;74:579-85.
7Somchit MN, Reezal I, Nur EI, Mutalib AR. In vitro antimicrobial activity of ethanol and water extract of Cassia alata. J Ethnopharmacol 2003;84:1-4.
8Zimmermann M. Ethical guidelines for investigation of experimental pain in conscious animals. Pain 1983;16:109-10.
9Collier HDJ, Dinnin LC, Johnson CA, Schneider C. The abdominal response and its suppression by analgesic drugs in the mouse. Br J Pharmacol 1968;32:295-310.
10Hosseinzadeh H, Ramezani M, Salmani G. Antinociceptive, antiinflammatory and acute toxicity effects of Zataria multiflora Boiss extracts in mice and rats. J Ethanopharmacol 2000;73:379-85.
11Somchit MN, Nur SMH. Antiinflammatory property of ethanolic and aqueous extracts of Zingiber zerumbet. Indian J Pharmacol 2003;35:181-3.
12Zakaria MNM, Islam MW, Radhakrishnan R, Chen HB, Kamil M, Al-Gifri AN, et al. Antinociceptive and antiinflammatory properties of Caralluma arabica. J Ethnopharmacol 2001;76:155-8.
13Carter RB. Differentiating analgesic and non-analgesic drug activities on rat hotplate: Effect of behavioral end-point. Pain 1991;47:211-20.
14Tjolsen A, Rosland JH, Berge OG, Hole K. The increasing-temperature hot-plate test: An improved test of nociception in mice and rats. J Pharmacol Methods 1991;25:241-50.
15Ahmad MM, Qureshi S, Shah A, Qazi NS, Rao RM, Al-Bakiri M. Antiinflammatory activity of Caralluma tuberculata alcoholic extract. Fitoterapia 1983;46:357-60.