Alternative Names: Kutki or Katki.
The rhizomes or underground stems of Picrorhiza are used. The herb originated in and continues to grow primarily in the Himalayan mountains.
Function; Why it is Recommended
Of the active constituents in Picrorhiza, the glycosides picroside I, kutkoside, androsin and apocynin have received most of the research attention.
The bitter rhizomes of Picrorhiza have been used for thousands of years in India to treat people with indigestion. [Krishnamurthy A. The Wealth of India vol VIII. New Delhi, Publication and Information Directorate, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1969: p.49
] It is also used to treat people with constipation
due to insufficient digestive secretion and for fever due to all manner of infections. [Indian Materia Medica. Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1976: pp.953-5
Human studies on this plant are not prolific. A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis
in India were reportedly treated successfully by a combination of picrorhiza with a variety of minerals. [J Res Ind Med 1966;1:1-13
] A number of similar reports have appeared in Indian literature over the years.
Between 400 and 1,500mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of studies. One author considers this equivalent to the use of 1-2ml twice per day of fluid extract of the plant. [Townsend Letter for Doctors 1995;May: pp.88-94 (review)
Picrorhiza tastes quite bitter; combination with ginger root powder capsules or tea can improve palatability.
Side-Effects; Counter-Indicators and Warnings
Loose stools and colic have been reported when unprepared picrorhiza rhizomes are used as medicine; extracts in alcohol have shown much less tendency to cause such effects. [J Res Ind Med 1966;1: pp.1-13
No other adverse effects or drug interactions have been reported with picrorhiza.
No information is available concerning pregnancy or lactation
, though there is no reason to suspect picrorhiza would be a problem in either situation. One test tube study found picrorhiza's glycosides to be non-mutagenic. [Phytomedicine 1995;4: pp.319-22