Plants contribute to 75% of molecular medicines (MM) either directly or indirectly. Centella asiatica (CA) is being extensively used in experimental and clinical studies. However, its scientific approval is not forthcoming. It is well known that every plant contains useful as well as some harmful compounds. Subjecting whole plant extracts containing harmful compounds to modern pharmacological methods will only demonstrate that they are not safe for use as medicines. To ascertain both the useful and harmful compounds in CA extract, all the compounds of the extract must be identified. In the present study, a methanol extract was prepared from the whole plant. The compounds were identified using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry with database confirmation. 3,201 compounds were identified using the METLIN database. Database searches yielded 1,187 biological compounds of which 154 were for human/human cell lines. These 154 compounds were classified based on their already reported effects. Two contemporary medicines found in this extract were quantified. Here, we report both beneficial and harmful compounds in the methanol extract of CA. We propose that the harmful compounds can be removed to yield safe medicines from CA.
Key words: Centella asiatica, mass spectrometry, secondary metabolites, traditional medicine, medicinal plant, molecular medicine.
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