What Is Kutki?
Kutki or Katuka is a traditional hepatoprotective herb that has immense healing properties. In fact, over the past few years, with more and more knowledge about this incredible herb, and forever increasing demand in the national and international market, various medicinal companies have extracted potent hepatoprotective drugs and compounds from the roots of Kutki and formulated them into powerful medications. Known by the botanical name Picorrhiza kurroa, Kutki comes from the Scrophulariaceae family. The name Picorrhiza comes from the Greek word ‘Picroz’ which means ‘bitter’ and ‘rhiza’ meaning ‘root’, referring to the bitter taste of the herb.
Touted for its intense bitter taste, this eastern root is said to be cooling, cleansing, and anti-bacterial by nature. These properties make Kutki a great option as a powerful herbal antibiotic, Pitta pacifier component, anti-inflammatory agent, detoxifier, and an antimicrobial powerhouse. Kutki can also be used as a main herbal component for any weight-loss regimen or diet as this bitter agent is great for increasing the digestive fire, promoting healthy elimination of excess fat and cholesterol, and boosting overall metabolism.
Kutki is a small perennial herb, that usually grows to a height of about 20-30 cm. The plant has roots that are elongated, tubular, straight or slightly curved with a few longitudinal and dotted scars, mostly attached with rhizomes. The useful rhizome part of the plant is normally thick, sub-cylindrical, straight or curved, with a greyish-brown tinge, marked externally with longitudinal furrows and spherical scars of roots. The plant has creeping stem which is small, weak, leafy and slightly hairy. Leaves are 5-15 cm long, oblanceolate, toothed, narrowed to a winged stalk, and are alternately arranged on the stem. Flowers are small, pale or purplish blue, borne in cylindric spikes, and are 5 lobed. Flowering period lasts long and usually takes place from June to August. The fertilized flowers are followed by a two-celled, small spherical capsule, tapered at the top, divided into 4 valves, and enclosing several white, oblong seeds.
Kutki is chiefly found growing in higher mountain elevations, of the Himalayan range. It is found thriving in moist rocks, from timberline to alpines, moist rocky crevices, and sandy-clayey textured soil. It is native to the Himalayan region across India, Pakistan, Southeast Tibet, Nepal, North Burma and West China. Within India, it is found growing in the alpine Himalayas of Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Kutki
Time and again, Kutki has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Jvara (useful in fever), Yakrit Vikara (prevents liver infections), Sangrahini, Kamala (prevents jaundice), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Kupachan (prevents bloating, indigestion), Anulomana (improves breathing), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), Shonitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Sangrahini , Pandu (treats skin disorders), Raktadoshahara (blood purifying), Vran Ropana (heals wounds), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Pandu (treats anaemia), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis), Varnya (improves complexion), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), and Hridaya (treats heart problems).