Herb Detail Picrorhiza kurroa or Katuki

Picrorhiza kurroa is a perennial hairy medicinal herb which is common in north-western Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim. In Ayurveda, it is called as Katuka or Katuki because of its extreme bitter taste. The use of this herb is for medicinal purpose is mentioned in Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, the classical text of Ayurveda.

As per Ayurveda, this medicinal herb pacifies vitiated Kapha dosha, reduces swelling and purifies blood.

Latin name: Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth
Family: Scrophulariaceae

Vernacular name:
Sanskrit: Katukaa, Katurohini, Kattarohini, Katuki, Katukikaa, Krishnabhedaa, Kaandaruhaa, Matsyashakalaa, Chakraangi, Shatparvaa, Arishta, Ashokarohinya, Shakuldaani
Assamese: Katki, Kutki
English: Hellebore, Picrorhiza
Gujrati: Kadu, Katu
Hindi: Kutki
Kannada: Katuka rohini, katuka rohini
Malayalam: Kaduk rohini, Katuka rohini
Marathi: Kutki, Kalikutki
Oriya: Katuki
Punjabi: Karru, kaur
Tamil: Katuka rohini, Katuku rohini, Kadugu rohini
Telugu: Karukarohini
Urdu: Kutki

As per Ayurveda, Properties and Action

Rasa: Katu, Tikta
Guna: Laghu
Virya: Ushna
Vipaka: Katu
Karma: Hridya, Pitta-har, Dipani, Bhedini, Jwar-har

The rhizomeous root of Picrorhiza kurroa is very bitter and used in treatment of febrile and liver disorders. Its roots are dried and pulverised to form the powder which can be used alone or in preparation of other Ayurvedic medicines. The various scientific studies done on this herb have established its liver protecting, bilirubin excreting and anti-inflammatory properties. The roots of Picrorhiza kurroa or Katuki contains picrorhizin and kutkins(mixture of kutkoside andpicroside).

The taste of its root powder is bitter and has cooling, laxative, carminative, digestive, stomachic, cholagogue (promotes the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the duodenum), hepato-protective (liver protective), anti-viral, anti-pyretic ( reduce fever), immunomodulation, free-radical scavenging, antispasmodic (preventing or relieving spasms) and anti-inflammatory properties.

Picrorhiza kurroa or Katuki is useful in treatment of skin diseases, piles, liver and spleen disease, jaundice, low appetite and constipation.

The safe dosage of this herb is 1-3 gms (in adult) and 500 mg-1 gm (in kids) depending on age and health, twice a day with water, after meals.

If its roots powder is taken in larger doses then it causes purgation. In medical term, meaning of Purgation is vigorous evacuation of the bowels as from the action of a laxative or an infective drug or agent. In case of watery loose motions and abdominal pain after its oral administration, stop taking this herb.

When taken in recommended doses Picrorhiza kurroa or Katuki, does not cause any toxic effects. But in larger doses, it causes strong laxative effect. It should be used cautiously in person suffering from diarrhoea and pregnant women.

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