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Picrorhiza kurroa

Picrorhiza kurroa


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Katuka, katula, katki, kuru, kutakee, katukarosana, kooren, hu huang line, kutki, khairbaque, kharbaq siyah, hon-len, kadukurokani. [1]


Katuka is small perennial herb with long roots that extend into rocky mountainsides. It has grayish-brown roots and produces hermaphrodite flowers. The rhizome is primarily used for medicinal purposes.

Origin / Habitat

P. kurroa is a medicinal herb, found perennially throughout the higher elevations of the Himalayan region particularly from Kashmir to Sikkam. It grows in the cracks of mountain rocks at elevations of 2500 to 4500 meters. [1][2] 

Chemical Constituents

Contains a number of iridoid glycosides including picroside I, picroside III, kutkoside, minecoside and veronicoside. [2][3] Also isolated was a ketone identical to apocynin. Additional constituents include D-mannitol, kutkiol and kutkisterol. [1] 

Plant Part Used

Root, rhizome. [1]

Traditional Use

In Ayurvedic medicine, Katuka is most often used as a hepatoprotective, promoting health in both the liver and the spleen, specifically in cases of jaundice. Katuka is traditionally used in treatment of snake bites and scorpion stings. In high doses it can act as a mild purgative. Katuka is also traditionally indicated to treat many types of fever, anemia and asthma. [1][4] Due to its antiperiodic activity, Katuka is used often used to treat recurring symptoms of periodic illnesses. Katuka is classified as having a tikta (bitter) rasa (taste) and has a cooling effect on the body. It pacifies the pitta dosha while stimulating the kapha and vata doshas. [1] 


1-1.5 g powdered as tonic, 3-3.5g powdered as antiperiodic. [1]

2 ml daily extract.

Standardization Dosage

250 mg extract standardized to 4%-10% kutkin.



In a randomized, double-blind placebo controlled trial in patients diagnosed to have acute viral hepatitis (HBsAg negative), P. kurroa root powder, 375mg three times a day, was given for two weeks. [5] P. kurroa was reported to significantly decrease lab values of bilirubin, SGOT, and SGPT as compared to placebo. The time in days required for total serum bilirubin to drop to an average value of 2.5mg% was 75.9 days in placebo compared to 27.44 days in the P. kurroa group. Also, the active principles picroside I, catalpol, kutkoside, and kutkoside 1 were tested for the presence of anti-hepatitis B virus surface antigen (anti-HBsAg) like activity in vitro. [6] A promising anti-HBsAg like activity was noted which differed from the classical viral neutralization. P. kurroa also inhibited purified HBV antigens prepared from healthy HBsAg carriers from binding in vitro

Several studies have reported benefit in patients with asthma when using P. kurroa. In a randomized crossover study using laboratory animals, administration of isolated androsin orally or by inhalation prevented bronchial obstruction induced by the inhalation of allergens, platelet activity factors (PAF), histamine, and acetylcholine. [7] It was concluded in this study that asthmatic reactions due to histamine and acetylcholine were not altered by P. kurroa, suggesting that androsin is not a broncholytic agent, but prevents bronchial obstruction. It is suggested that androsin may act by depressing the activity of PAF, which plays a major role in the pathogenesis of bronchial asthma. PAF has been reported to provoke long-term inflammatory responses in the lungs, leading to bronchial hyper-reactivity and subsequent bronchial obstruction. Additionally, histamine release from human polymorphonuclear leucocytes, in vitro, has been reported inhibited by some compounds from P. kurroa that have yet to be identified. [8] P. kurroa reportedly stabilizes mast cells in vivo, further elucidated by a repeated study in vitro in laboratory animals. [9][10] This may prove useful as part of an integrative approach in patients with allergic conditions. [11] 


A one-year clinical study of 20 patients (ages 14-60 years), two with perennial asthma, others with seasonal asthma, was conducted using P. kurroa as a therapeutic agent. [12] The degree of clinical improvement in the patients was measured in terms of reduction in the use of bronchodilators, as evident from the results of pulmonary function tests at regular intervals. The patients had experienced asthma symptoms ranging from five to twenty years. The peak expiratory flow rate (PEFR) was monitored and reported sustained increases for up to twelve months of treatment with P. kurroa. The frequency and severity of asthmatic attacks reduced significantly as treatment progressed. A reduction in bronchodilator use was also observed. One observation of interest is that individuals having specific food allergies developed tolerance to these allergens during the period of treatment, probably due in part to the mast cell stabilization properties of P. kurroa.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

No documentation.

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation.


No documentation.

Age limitation

No documentation.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.

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  1) Medicinal Herbs

  2) Tibetan Herbs


  1. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 1990.263.
  2. Premila, M.S. Ayurvedic Herbs: A Clinical Guide to the Healing Plants of Traditional Indian Medicine. Binghamton, NY: The Haworth Press; 2006.
  3. Duke, James A. Handbook of phytochemical constituents of GRAS herbs and other economic plants. Boca Raton: FL. CRC Press;1992.
  4. Medicinal Plants/Ayurvedic Medicines. 1997. Available from [Accessed on 19 February, 2009].
  5. Vaidya AB, et al. Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth As a Hepatoprotective Agent--Experimental and Clinical Studies. J Postgrad Med. Dec1996;42(4):105-108.
  6. Mehrotra R, et al. In Vitro Studies on the Effect of Certain Natural Products Against Hepatitis B Virus. Indian J Med Res. Apr1990;92:133-138.
  7. Dorsch W, et al. Antiasthmatic Effects of Picrorhiza kurroa: Androsin Prevents Allergen- and PAF-Induced Bronchial Obstruction in Guinea Pigs. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol. 1991;95(2-3):128-133.
  8. Langer JG, et al. Clinical Trials on Picrorhiza kurroa. Ind J Pharmacol. 1981;13:98-103.
  9. Pandey BL, et al. Immunopharmacological Studies on Picrorrhiza kurroa Royale Ex Benth Part II: Antiallergic Activity. Ind J Allergy Applied Immunol. 1988;2:21-34.
  10. Panley BL, et al. Immunopharmacological Studies on Picrorrhiza kurroa Royale Ex Benth Par VI: Effect on Anaphylactic Activation Events in Rat Peritoneal Mast Cells. Ind J Physiol Pharmacol. 1989;33:47-52.
  11. Sharafkhaneh A, Velamuri S, Badmaev V, Lan C, Hanania N.The potential role of natural agents in treatment of airway inflammation. Ther Adv Respir Dis. Dec2007;1(2):105-120.
  12. Yegnanarayanan R, et al. Study of Picrorhiza kurroa (PK 300) in Cases of Bronchial Asthma. Bombay Hos J. 1982;24(2):15-18.

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