Cica can be one of two things: The abbreviated name of the herb, centella asiatica (first letter of the first word and last three letters of the second), or of the French word “cicatrisation” which means “to heal”.
Mainly found in South-east Asia, India and China, it also grows in tropical wetlands around the world. According to a study on the use of centella asiatica in cosmetology by the Department of Pharmacognosy in Poznan University of Medical Science, Poland, cica has been used topically as a powder or ointment on small wounds, scratches, burns, eczema and ulcers. When its leaves are powdered, mixed with water and consumed as a drink, or added to salads and rice, it reportedly improves problems like memory loss and lack of concentration. A 2010 study published in the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences found that it is also used to treat conditions like eczema, diarrhoea and fever.
Animals are said to know that cica is good for them too: Tigers in India “treat” their wounds or infections by rolling over the plant (hence cica’s other name, tiger grass); and it is believed that elephants in Sri Lanka have a better memory because they frequently snack on cica.
What’s used in traditional medicine and in the wild is now used cosmetically – not to treat wounds but skin redness, dryness and itching. Here's what to try:
This story was originally published in the April 2018 issue of Her World magazine.