This magical ingredient goes by many names and is the spa, wellness and skin care trend you need to know about

Research suggests Centella asiatica may be effective as a wound healer, antidepressant, antiepileptic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory, as well as for staving off cognitive decline and as a treatment for gastric ulcer – among other things.

The beauty world is a abuzz about cica, a trendy ingredient in Korean Skin Care products.

Almost completely unheard of in mainstream circles until fairly recently, cica is now all the rage in K beauty. And since Korea is becoming the new global leader in skin care, it’s  now showing up in western skin care products and spas. In reality cica, or Centella asiatica, isn’t a new ingredient and it has a long history of culinary use and as an internal and topical medicine in its native Asia. It’s well known in traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurveda, and in other alternative health areas. You might know it under the names gotu kola, Asian pennywort, Brahmi, or tiger grass.

According to legend, people in Sri Lanka noticed that elephants — known for their longevity and excellent memory – were consuming the gotu kola plant, and decided to try it for themselves.

Scientific studies of Centella asiatica show promise

A 2010 study titled Pharmacological Review on Centella asiatica: A Potential Herbal Cure-all reviewed the research on cica’s uses as a wound healer, antidepressant, antiepileptic, sedative, and anti-inflammatory, as well as for staving off cognitive decline and as a treatment for gastric ulcer.

The authors wrote:

“Apart from wound healing, the herb is recommended for the treatment of various skin conditions such as leprosy, lupus, varicose ulcers, eczema, psoriasis, diarrhoea, fever, amenorrhea, diseases of the female genitourinary tract and also for relieving anxiety and improving cognition.”

They concluded that “The therapeutic potential of this plant in terms of its efficacy and versatility is such that further detailed research appears crucial.” And noted that the risk of misuse may increase with the growing number of herbal preparations on he market.

And recent studies have centred around its potential for use in skin care and cosmetics.

Among these:

  • A 2012 study found that “extracts of Centella asiatica facilitate the wound healing process in both incision and burn wounds.”
  • A 2013 report says research results indicate that Centella asiatica can be used in the treatment of “photoaging skin, cellulite and striae [stretch marks].”
  • A 2016 study found that “cosmetic formulations containing Centella asiatica extract have … moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties.”
  • A 2017 study found that titrated extract of Centella asiatica could be a promising agent for inhibition of Atopic Dermatitis.

It’s said to have antioxidant properties and to increase collagen production. According to a recent Allure article, it’s full of amino acids, beta-carotene, fatty acids, and phytochemicals, including vitamins C, A, B1, and B2, and is believed to soothe and repair irritated skin. The article also stated that it’s believed to be able to improve the appearance of wrinkles and age spots, and “fight premature aging by protecting against external sources of skin damage, such as pollution.”

In other words, there is no limit to what Centella asiatica can do right now. And people are very excited about it. Centella asiatica is enjoying its time in the sun and being explored as a general cosmetic panacea.

How is it being used in spas and skin care?

Here are just XX products and treatments that contain or feature cica/Centella asiatica/gotu kola.

Peach & Lily CC Cream

Major league K- beauty player Peach & Lily offers a variety of products containing Centella asiatica, one of which is CC cream, or “color-correcting cream.” Among other ingredients, which include squalane, shea butter, argan, and rose and olive oils is Centella Asiatica, which combined with licorice root extract works “to soothe and keep skin calm.”

SUNDÃRI skincare products

SUNDÃRI is a line of skincare products designed to combat aging, created by Ayla Hussain, Cavan Mahony and supermodel Christy Turlington. SUNDÃRI “combines adherence to Ayurvedic principles based on an ancient eastern philosophy with the finest quality ingredients from nature, delivering a holistic approach to wellness that results in outer radiance and inner serenity.” One of the key ingredients of the line is gotu kola, featured in the Gotu Kola and Carrageenan Body Cleanser.

A gentle and effective cleanser without harsh sulfates. It is infused with herbal extracts and oils to help soothe and increase hydration. It is suitable for all skin types. Gotu Kola Oil stimulates fibroblastic activity to firm and lift tired skin. Carrageenan functions as a topical microbicide.

SUNDÃRI is used in spas around the world, including Spa InterContinental London Park Lane, Anantara Dubai The Palm Resort & Spa, and Spa Lux in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Firming Gotu Kola and Walnut Body Exfoliation at SPA LUX

This body treatment which uses SUNDÃRI Gotu Kola and Walnut Body Exfoliator is designed to aid firmness and regenerate the skin. “Finely ground walnut shell powder, steeped in Firming Gotu Kola helps exfoliate the skin to its highest potential. Regenerating Rose Hip and invigorating Cardamon oils bring vitality and smoothness to skin.”

Summer Splash Jelly Pedicure at the Kohler Waters Spa at Destination Kohler (available during summer 2018)

A pedicure using a blue jelly bath, alchemy oil and an organic lemon peel scrub, while “Gotu Kola healing balm and citrus body butters hydrate the feet for fun in the sun.”

Moisture Drench Facial and the Four Seasons Dallas Spa

Thus facial includes a “Soothing Hibiscus Enzyme Peel,” “Vitamin-rich Cassis Ultra Replenishing Cream” with hyaluronic acid, “White Tea Antioxidant Mask,” and a facial massage with “Gotu Kola Healing Balm” to leave skin “radiant and protected from harsh environmental elements. Ideal for high altitudes, extreme weather and desert climates.”


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