Katuka (Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth) -
Katuka is a perennial hairy herb grown in alpine regions with
temperate climatic conditions.The medicinal plant in Indian medicine
is named as Katuka or Katuki owing to its immense bitter taste. The
rhizome of the plant is a bitter tonic used for the treatment of febrile
and liver disorders.Uses of Katuka are documented in the ancient
classical texts – Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita. Most of
the Ayurvedic remedies described in literature and commercially
manufactured for jaundice and liver disorders essentially contain
Katuka as one of the ingredients.
Composition - Katuka powder is made from dried rhizomes and roots of the plant for oral use.
English name - Picrorhiza, Hellebore
Latin name - Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.
Family - Scrophulariaceae
Part used - Rhizome with roots
Therapeutic properties -Katuka is a bitter tonic with cooling, laxative, carminative, digestive, stomachic, cholagogue, hepato-protective, anti-viral, anti-pyretic, immunomodulating, free-radical scavenging, anti-spasmodic and antiinflammatory properties5. In large doses, it acts like a purgative.
Dose and mode of administration -The dose of Katuka powder for adults is one to three grams and for children 500 mg to 1 gram, to be taken twice daily with water, preferably after meals. Consuming the medicine on an empty stomach should be avoided as it may cause nausea and vomiting due to its highly bitter taste.
Indications and uses - Katuka is useful in jaundice, liver and spleen dysfunctions, decreased appetite, flatulence, constipation and piles. It is also used in intermittent febrile conditions and skin diseases.
Precautions and safety aspects -
(1) No side or toxic effects are reported in literature with the recommended dose of Katuka. Clinical studies have shown no adverse effects in patients treated with Katuka alone and with formulations containing Katuka.
(2) Katuka being a purgative, large doses should be used carefully in patients with loose motions and in pregnant women. The dose should be reduced; if stools are watery and associated with abdominal pain.
(3) Bitter taste of the medicine may induce nausea and vomiting in sensitive individuals. This tendency can be masked by consuming the medicine mixed with honey or sweet syrup.
(4) Medication with Katuka should be stopped if the intensity of jaundice does not decrease within three to five days and the symptoms get aggravated. Chronic and severely jaundiced patients should consume Katuka under medical supervision.
(5) Jaundice with complications such as body itching, bleeding, anaemia, edema, loss of weight etc. should be properly investigated and treated under medical supervision.
(6) Hot, spicy, pungent, sour, fatty and heavy foods should be avoided. It is advisable to take a soft, semi-solid or liquid diet during and after medication till normal digestive power is restored and the blood bilirubin level becomes normal.