Kutki or Picrorhiza kurroa, an ancient medicinal plant from the Himalayan region of Asia, may be the last thing on your mind when you’re struck down by an ailment. But you may be surprised at how this plant can heal an ailing liver, bring down a fever, and much more!
Kutki is available as a root powder, as ayurvedic churnas with other herbs, or even in tablet form.
Kutki features in many herbal formulations and ayurvedic remedies for issues you too might encounter. So here’s a closer look at some of the most compelling reasons to consider exploring Picrorhiza kurroa for your health.
1. Supports Liver Function
An imbalance of pitta is implicated in bile disorders. Kutki can set this right by balancing pitta and improving bile secretion.
Kutki’s main claim to fame is as a hepatoprotective agent. As a “yakkrduttejaka,” it supports liver function and bile secretion and can help keep your liver enzymes at normal levels. This beneficial effect of the herb on the liver is attributed to components called kutkin or picroliv. Here are some of kutki’s promising effects on the liver:
- Kutki can protect the liver when taken before or after you have been exposed to toxins, including those from alcohol, cigarette smoke, and certain medications.
- It may help cleanse the liver and work as a treatment for those with cirrhosis of the liver.1
- A herbal medicine known as arogyawardhani largely made up of kutki (about 50%) has shown promise against viral hepatitis. Test subjects with viral hepatitis saw levels of serum bilirubin come down after taking the remedy. Transaminase level, another indicator that is normally elevated in those with hepatitis, also dropped.2
- Kutki can also help treat jaundice and improve bile secretion.3
2. Boosts Appetite And Helps With Weight Management
If you are grappling with a sluggish appetite and just don’t feel like eating, a dose of kutki may be just what the doctor ordered. It stimulates gastric secretions and improves your appetite. Literature even suggests its use in countering anorexia – by improving your ability to eat, it may help fight symptoms like extreme weight loss and fatigue.4
On the other side, if you are struggling with a weight problem, kutki can step in there too. It has the ability to boost the digestive fire (aqni), improve metabolism, and keep your bowel movements regular, helping you cut fat accumulation and manage weight better.5
id="fights-digestive-problems-like-indigestion-constipation-and-nausea">3. Fights Digestive Problems Like Indigestion, Constipation, And Nausea
Besides improving liver and digestive function, kutki can also help with spleen disorders.6
Kutki has far-reaching benefits for your digestive system and can help with indigestion or dyspepsia.7 If your bowel movements have taken a hit, turn to kutki. It has laxative properties, which is why ayurveda uses it to treat constipation. Struggling with nausea and vomiting? Kutki to the rescue again.8
id="boosts-immunity">4. Boosts Immunity
Kutki can be taken along with licorice to soothe a case of the hiccups.9
Kutki exhibits immunomodulatory activity in the body, helping recalibrate your immune responses for the better. As one animal study found, kutki extracts were able to bring about a significant increase in lymphocytes, white blood cells that are a vital part of the immune system and fend off infections. Kutki also increased the levels of cell signaling proteins known as cytokines that are involved in maintaining the immune defenses of the body.10
5. Fights A Fever
Finely powdered kutki can be mixed with warm water and sugar and given for fevers. A kutki decoction with ghee is also recommended.11
6. May Have Respiratory Benefits
Ayurveda suggests the use of kutki in treating respiratory problems including asthma and bronchitis. Its muscle relaxant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-boosting effects are all well established.13 But while this might make it seem like the perfect remedy, actual research and trials have failed to back this up yet. In one study, taking the root powder even at high doses (900 mg daily) failed to be very effective at improving lung function, preventing bronchial asthma, or treating it.14 Further research is needed on this front to establish whether kutki could help with such respiratory problems.
id="counters-inflammation-and-eases-arthritic-pain">7. Counters Inflammation And Eases Arthritic Pain
Studies on kutki suggest that it inhibits the inflammation associated with arthritis, making it a promising possible therapeutic option for the condition.15 Clinical trials on people with osteoarthritis as well as arthritic pain of the spine (ankylosing spondylitis) have yielded positive results.16
8. Offers Relief From Skin Problems
Ayurveda uses the herb for its antioxidant properties to treat skin disorders.17 It can help soothe skin irritation from dermatitis, fights skin allergies, and also heals skin wounds. Kutki has shown promising outcomes in tackling psoriasis and may even have potential against vitiligo.18 19
id="is-good-for-heart-health">9. Is Good For Heart Health
Kutki is also given as a cardiotonic for its health-giving benefits for the heart. How does it help? Because it is antioxidant-rich and can fight inflammation, it is great for your cardiovascular health overall. Its anti-inflammatory components like apocynin can help prevent blockage formation in the arteries and may help you ward off heart attacks.20 Researchers have even suggested its potential use in antithrombotic drugs which act by preventing platelets from clumping and forming clots.21
10. Has Cancer-Fighting Potential
What has also piqued interest in kutki is its anti-neoplastic properties, helping inhibit and even prevent the development of tumors. Kutki helps fight cancer on other fronts too: its antioxidant properties help rein in free radicals implicated in cancer. It also has been seen to induce apoptosis or cell death of tumor cells.22 While it may not replace mainstream treatment anytime soon – or at least until more research is done – it may be a beneficial therapeutic treatment to consider alongside. After you run it by your doctor first, of course.
Kutki Dosage And Side Effects
Dosage for kutki tends to be around 100 mg to 500 mg on average and can be fine-tuned for you by an ayurvedic practitioner. Kutki doesn’t seem to have any major or serious side effects. However, for some people, this herbal remedy may result in a headache, dizziness, difficulty breathing (dyspnea), abdominal pain, and even vomiting.23 If you experience any of these symptoms, you should stop using the remedy or consult your doctor to alter dosage. Because of the limited human studies and clinical trials available, it is best for pregnant women, nursing mothers, and children to avoid it.
Kutki has the potential to offer respite from many health niggles. But if you have a more severe health issue or are undergoing treatment or taking medication for a health problem, always check with your doctor before you start taking kutki. Do not treat it as a substitute for regular medication and therapy.
|↑1, ↑12, ↑20||Gautam, Rahul, Rajat Kaushik, D. K. Vishwakarma, and Alok Kumar. “Mathematical model in herbal drug (Kutki) kinetics.” IJAR 2, no. 2 (2016): 61-67.|
|↑2||Vaidya, A. B., D. S. Antarkar, J. C. Doshi, A. D. Bhatt, V. V. Ramesh, P. V. Vora, D. D. Perissond, A. J. Baxi, and P. M. Kale. “Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent–experimental & clinical studies.” Journal of Postgraduate Medicine 42, no. 4 (1996): 105.|
|↑3, ↑6, ↑8||Meena, A. K., C. M. Krishna, M. M. Rao, Sunil Kumar KN, Komal Preet, M. M. Padhi, and Ramesh Babu. “EVALUATION OF PHARMACOGNOSTIC AND PHYSICOCHEMICAL PARAMETERS OF PICCRORRHIZA KURROA ROYLE EX BENTH.” International Journal of Ayurvedic Medicine 1, no. 1 (2010).|
|↑4, ↑7, ↑9||Kurian, Alice, and M. Asha Sankar. Medicinal plants. Vol. 2. New India Publishing, 2007.|
|↑5||Pole, Sebastian. Ayurvedic medicine: the principles of traditional practice. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2006.|
|↑10||Gupta, Amit, Anamika Khajuria, Jaswant Singh, K. L. Bedi, N. K. Satti, Prabhu Dutt, K. A. Suri, O. P. Suri, and G. N. Qazi. “Immunomodulatory activity of biopolymeric fraction RLJ-NE-205 from Picrorhiza kurroa.” International immunopharmacology 6, no. 10 (2006): 1543-1549.|
|↑11||Shukla, Anil Kumar. “KUTKI: INDIAN GENTIAN: PICRORRHIZA KURROA.” Journal Of Vishwa Ayurvedic Patrika: 42.|
|↑13||Leach, Matthew. Clinical decision making in complementary and alternative medicine. Elsevier Australia, 2010.|
|↑14||Doshi, V. B., V. M. Shetye, A. A. Mahashur, and S. R. Kamat. “Picrorrhiza kurroa in bronchial asthma.” Journal of postgraduate medicine 29, no. 2 (1983): 89.|
|↑15||Kumar, Rohit, Yogendra Kumar Gupta, Surender Singh, and S. Arunraja. “Picrorhiza kurroa Inhibits Experimental Arthritis Through Inhibition of Pro‐inflammatory Cytokines, Angiogenesis and MMPs.” Phytotherapy research 30, no. 1 (2016): 112-119.|
|↑16, ↑19||Kamhi, Ellen, and Eugene R. Zampierson. An Alternative Medicine Definitive Guide to Arthritis: Reverse Underlying Causes of Arthritis With Clinically Proven Alternative Therapies. Random House Digital, Inc., 2006.|
|↑17||Kant, K., M. Walia, V. K. Agnihotri, Vijaylata Pathania, and B. Singh. “Evaluation of antioxidant activity of Picrorhiza kurroa (leaves) extracts.” Indian journal of pharmaceutical sciences 75, no. 3 (2013): 324.|
|↑18||Stansbury, Jill. Herbal Formularies for Health Professionals, Volume 1: Digestion and Elimination.Chelsea Green Publishing, 2018.|
|↑21||Engels, Ferdi, Bastien F. Renirie, Bert A. t Hart, Rudi P. Labadie, and Frans P. Nijkamp. “Effects of apocynin, a drug isolated from the roots of Picrorhiza kurroa, on arachidonic acid metabolism.” FEBS letters 305, no. 3 (1992): 254-256.|
|↑22||Rajkumar, V., Gunjan Guha, and R. Ashok Kumar. “Antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of Picrorhiza kurroa extracts.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 49, no. 2 (2011): 363-369.|
|↑23||Shah, Bina K., S. R. Kamat, and U. K. Sheth. “Preliminary report of use of Picrorrhiza kurroa root in bronchial asthma.” Journal of postgraduate medicine 23, no. 3 (1977): 118.|