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Rev Esp Enferm Dig. 2005 Feb;97(2):115-24.

Hepatotoxicity associated with the ingestion of Centella asiatica.

[Article in English, Spanish]

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Gastroenterology Department, Hospital EspaƱol, Mendoza, Argentina.



Hepatotoxicity due to herbal remedies is being increasingly recognized. Centella asiatica (Centella asiatica Linn Urban) is commercialized for multiple conditions. Its active principles are pentacyclic triterpenic saponosides (asiaticoside, madecassoside).


We present three women (61, 52 and 49 years old) who developed jaundice after taking Centella asiatica for 30, 20 and 60 days. Respective laboratory tests: ALT: 1193, 1694 and 324 U/L; ALP: 503, 472 and 484 U/L; bilirubin: 4.23, 19.89 and 3.9 mg/dl. The first patient also had ASMA 1/160 and AMA 1/320. Respective pathological diagnoses: granulomatous hepatitis with marked necrosis and apoptosis; chronic hepatitis with cirrhotic transformation and intense necroinflammatory activity, and granulomatous hepatitis. All patients improved with Centella asiatica discontinuation, and ursodeoxycholic acid 10 mg/kg/day. The first patient took Centella asiatica again, with recurrence of the damage. The second one had taken this herb a year before.


Many plants synthesize hepatotoxic compounds. Germander, Skullcap and Glycyrrhizin contain di- or triterpenic active principles, which can produce hepatic injury by promoting apoptosis and altering cell membranes. We hypothesize that these mechanisms may have resulted in injuries associated with Centella asiatica. The presence of autoantibodies and granulomas also favors an immune-mediated mechanism. Ursodeoxycholic acid has anti-apoptotic properties, but we cannot rule out that Centella asiatica discontinuation alone may have resulted in patient improvement.

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