Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Healing Herb: Picrorhiza kurroa

Picrorhiza kurroa 
Picrorhiza kurroa (family Scrophulariaceae, common name Picrorhiza, Katuka, Kutka, kutki) is one of the oldest medicinal plants found in the Himalayas. Since time immemorial, this perennial herb has been used in Ayurveda for treating diseases caused by kapha and pitta, and is valued for its hepatoprotective properties. In small doses, it helps in curing loss of appetite, liver diseases, jaundice, bronchial asthma, bile disorders and weakness. In larger doses, it is useful as an antioxidant, antibacterial, anticholestatic, antiallergic, antiperiodic, cathartic, laxative, and to treat abdominal diseases, adiposity and related disorders.

Roots of Picrorhiza kurroa 
The leaf, bark and the underground parts of Picrorhiza, mainly rhizomes are widely used in the treatment of the health ailments. The root of this plant is rich in glucosides including kitkin and picrorhizin, cucurbitacin, D-mannitol, benetic acid, kutkisterol, vanillic acid and some steroids. P. kurroa also contains apocynin, a powerful anti-inflammatory agent, which helps reduce platelet aggregation.

Experimental studies have revealed the cytotoxic role of curcubitacins (found in the plant) having antitumor activity. It is also said to reduce blood cholesterol levels and the coagulation time. Furthermore studies of plant rhizome, is shown to improve the immunity of the body, as well as known to have a specific action against the parasite Leishmania, which causes the disease called leishmaniasis.

The plant is also used in treating abdominal pain, stomach disorders, anemia, and for promoting bile secretion. It is helpful in acute viral hepatitis, as immune-modulator, and in treating fever and allergies. Other instances of use include vitiligo, skin disorders, infections, scorpion stings, chronic diarrhea, epilepsy, malaria and rheumatoid arthritis. The plant and its formulations are widely used in treating epidemic jaundice.

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