Friday, June 4, 2010


Katuki consists of the dried rhizome with root of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth. rhizome is cut into small pieces

Family : Scrophulariaceae.


Bhedaniya, Lekhaniya, Stanyashodhana, Tiktaskanda (Charaka)

Patolaadi, Pippalyaadi, Mustaadi (Sushruta)

Sanskrit Synonyms:

Katurohini, Katukarohini, Tiktarohini, Ashokarohini, Mastarohini, Rohini, Katuki, Katu, Katvi, Tikta, Tiktaka, Chakrangi, Mastyavinna, Mastyapitta, Matsya, Mastyashafala, Mastyabhedini, Kandaruha, Krishnabheda, Krishna, Krishnabhedi, Malbhedini, Sakula, Sakulaadani, Amaghni, Vataghni, Sataparva, Arishta, Dhanwantrigranthe, Vantiya, Katumbhara, Anjani, Kodarkatuki, Chitrangi, Janani, Matsyakala.

Common Name s :

Hindi : Katuki/ Kutaki.Bengali : Katki/ Kutki/ Kuru.

Marathi : Bakadu/ Kali- kutki.

ujarati : Kadu/ Kaddu/ Kali-katuki.

Malayalam : Katurohini/ Katukhurohini/ Katukhruohani.

Marathi : Kutaki/ Kadukutaki/ Kadoo/ Balakadu.

Punjabi : Kauda/ Karru/ Kaur/ Kali-kutki.

Tamil : Katuku-rogani/ Katkurokini/ Katukuroni.

Telugu : Katukaroni/ Katukarogani/ Nallakola wara.

Urdu : Kutki-shavaha

English : Black heliebore/ Hellebore/ Kurroa


It is distributed in North-West Himalayan from Kashmir to Sikkim. It grows on bare hill sides as well as on the edges of rocks.

Botanical Description

It is a perennial, woody bitter stock. Leaves : 5-10 cm, sub-radical, spathulate, serrate rather coriaceous, tip rounded, base narrowed into a winged sheathing petiole. Flowering stems : Scapes ascending, stout, longer than the leaves, bracteates, embracteate, white or bluish. Spikes 5-10 cm long, sub cylindric, obtuse, many-flowered; bracts oblong or lanceolate as long as the calyx. Sepals: 5, imbricate in bud, Corolla : of the long stamened from short, membraneous, subequally, 5-left to the middle; lobes ovate, acuminate ciliate; of the shorter stamened, corolla tube curved, broad; limb 2-lipped, upper lip longer, emerginate, lower of the three shorter, ovate, acute lobes, the middle one smallest. Stamens: 4, filaments in the longer stamened very slander, four times as long as the corolla; of the shorter stamened stout, two upper shorter than the upper lip of the corolla, with the anthers under the hood, two lower exserted; anther-cells subdivergent confluent at the lip. Ovary : two celled, many ovuled; style of the long stamened long and slender, stigma simple; of the shorter stamened stouter and shorter, stigma-capitate, exserted. Capsule : ovoid, turgid, acute, septicidal and loculicidal, margins of the valves inflexed, exposing the columnar placentiferous axis. Seeds: of an oblong curved nucleus, enclosed in he large, bladdery loose, hyaline, reticulated tests.

Chemical Constituents

In root two bitter glycosides, picrorhizin & kutkin; D-mannitol, vanilic acid (0.1%), apocynin, 4-oxy-methoxy-acetoyhenone kukiol acetate, kutiol and kutaki sterol. cathartic acid, trace of alkaloid, tannins, organic acids, resins, cucurbitacins, iridoid glucosides, phenylethanoids, phenolics. The rhizome contains iridoid glycosides which have been named pircoside I, picroside II and kutkoside.

Kutkin is obtained by crystallization and consists of the glucosides picroside I and kutkoside in a ratio of 1: 2 and other minor glycosides.

Properties and Action

Rasa: Tikta

Guna: Ruksha, Laghu

Veerya: Sheeta

Vipaaka: Katu

Karma: Kaphapittahara

Pharmacological Properties

Immunomodulatory activity, anti-tumour activity, adaptogenic activities, antihepatotoxic, cholretic, hypoglycemic, hypolipidemic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, antitumor, antiviral, purgative, immunomodulatory, antioxidant, neuritogenic, leishmanicidal activities, hepatoregenerative effects.

Therapeutic Uses

Apart from its classification under bioactivity related groups, Katuka is mentioned in the Samhitas in several complex preparations, combined with several other herbs and sometimes with additional mineral preparations. In Charaka Samhita, such preparations are prescribed for: intestinal worms, skin disorders, blood disease, cough, snake poisoning, throat disorders, and elimination in unctuous persons. In Sushruta Samhita, theses complex preparations are prescribed for: wound healing, urustambha, skin diseases, leukoderma, for wound cleaning and healing, Kaphaja elephantiasis, dental sinusis several diseases due to vitiated pitta, as enema, poisonous insect bite, common cold due to Tridosha, fever caused by Kapha and Pitta, dyspepsia, chronic fever, headache, abdominal swellings, abdominal enlargements, jaundice and consumptive cough with fever and pain. However, Picrorhiza may not be the active component in these complex preparations. In Ayurveda, herbs are sometimes added to enhance the efficacy or bioavailability of other components of the preparations.

It is efficacious in disorders caused by kapha and pitta such as jaundice, chronic fever and blood disorder.

Deepana, Hruddha, Kaphapittajwarahara, Prameha, Shwaasa, Kaasa, Rakta dosha, Daaha and Kruminaashana

Part used: Rhizome

Formulation : Aarogyavardhini vati, Katukaddha Louha, Katutrikaadi Kwatha, Sarvajwarahara lauha.

Dose: Powder- 500 mg to 1 gm (bitter tonic), 3 to 6 gm (laxative purpose).

Substitutes and Adulterants

Gentiana kurroa (Gentianaceae) which is known as 'Trayamaana' used as adulterant and substitute for the Katuki and vice versa.

Picrorhiza scrophulariaeflora Pennell,- Northern Himalayan region from Nepal to Sikkim. It possesses properties similar to Katuki.

Helleborus niger Linn. (Ranunculaceae).


  1. Picrorrhiza also known as Kutki is excellent as a liver tonic. My naturopath told me that 90% of things we ingest have to be metabolised by the liver, including fat. So a healthy liver is very good for health she said. For your readers in USA, we purchase our Picrorrhiza at:

  2. Phytochemical Properties of Picrorrhiza kurroa (Katuki)
    •Hepato & renoprotective
    •Promotes Overall immune function
    •Strong support in defense against viral infections
    •Significant adaptogenic / anti-stress activity
    •Increases Stamina

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