Centella asiatica, locally well known in Malaysia as pegaga, is a traditional herb that has been used widely in Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine, and in the traditional medicine of other Southeast Asian countries including Malaysia. Although consumption of the plant is indicated for various illnesses, its potential neuroprotective properties have been well studied and documented. In addition to past studies, recent studies also discovered and/or reconfirmed that C. asiatica acts as an antioxidant, reducing the effect of oxidative stress in vitro and in vivo. At the in vitro level, C. asiatica promotes dendrite arborisation and elongation, and also protects the neurons from apoptosis. In vivo studies have shown that the whole extract and also individual compounds of C. asiatica have a protective effect against various neurological diseases. Most of the in vivo studies on neuroprotective effects have focused on Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, learning and memory enhancement, neurotoxicity and other mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety, and epilepsy. Recent studies have embarked on finding the molecular mechanism of neuroprotection by C. asiatica extract. However, the capability of C. asiatica in enhancing neuroregeneration has not been studied much and is limited to the regeneration of crushed sciatic nerves and protection from neuronal injury in hypoxia conditions. More studies are still needed to identify the compounds and the mechanism of action of C. asiatica that are particularly involved in neuroprotection and neuroregeneration. Furthermore, the extraction method, biochemical profile and dosage information of the C. asiatica extract need to be standardised to enhance the economic value of this traditional herb and to accelerate the entry of C. asiatica extracts into modern medicine.
Keywords: antioxidant; neurological disease; neuronal injury; neuroprotective; pegaga.