Kutaja (Holarrhena antidysenterica) -
Kutaja powder is a simple formulation prepared from the stem bark of Holarrhena antidysenterica (Roxb. ex Flem.) Wall., a small to medium-sized tree, found throughout India. The stem bark is collected from 8-12 years old trees during the middle of rainy season (July to September) and again at the end of winter by hewing and peeling and separating it from the attached wood.
The stem bark is bitter in taste and used in Ayurveda for the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders, particularly diarrhoea and dysentery. Most of the Ayurvedic formulations described in literature and various commercially marketed formulations for diarrhoea essentially contain Kutaja as one of their ingredients. Kutaja is mentioned in the Indian Ayurvedic Pharmacopeias as well as Formulary. Apart from the preferred use of Kutaja in the treatment of diarrhoea, scientific studies have established its anti-protozoal, anti-giardia and antiamoebic properties.
Composition - Kutaja powder is prepared from the stem bark of Kutaja.
English name - Kurchi, Tellicherry bark.
Latin name - Holarrhena antidysenterica Roxb. ex Flem. Wall.
Family - Apocynaceae.
Parts used - Stem bark.
Therapeutic properties - The bark of Kutaja has anti-diarrhoeal, constipating, astringent, antidysenteric, anthelmintic, carminative and digestive properties.
Dose and mode of administration - The adult dose of Kutaja powder is 3-5 g and for children 500 mg to 1 g, twice or thrice daily with warm water, before meals.
Indication and uses - Kutaja bark is useful in various kinds of diarrhoea and dysentery.
Precautions and safety aspects -
(1) No side effect or toxic effect of Kutaja powder has been mentioned in the classical Ayurvedic literature. Clinical studies have also shown no adverse effects in patients treated with Kutaja powder within the recommended dose alone as well as in combination with other home remedies. Kutaja may cause distension of the abdomen after using for a few days.
(2) As prolonged use of Kutaja powder may produce constipation, hence as soon as the diarrhoea is checked the dose of Kutaja powder should be tapered off.
(3) A study on the side effects of Holarrhena antidysenterica in patients has revealed that it can lead to subjective symptoms as well as hypertension7. Hence hypertensive patients should take Kutaja powder under medical supervision.
(4) Prolonged use of Kutaja powder during pregnancy should be done under medical supervision. However, it is safe for the baby if a nursing mother is taking this medication.