Katuki – A Promising Bitter Tonic with Hepatoprotective Activity


Katuki, a bitter tonic botanically known as Picrorrhiza kurroa, is very famous in the Ayurveda world for its promising hepatoprotective action. Katuki is a perennial herb and is locally known as Karru. Katuki belongs to the Scrophulariaceae family and is found in the alpine Himalayas from Kashmir to Skkim at an elevation of 3000 to 5000m. This herb has also been used from ancient times in the Chinese system of medicine. In Ayurvedic classical texts, Katuki is mentioned as drying, cooling, and light to digest. It is bhedini (softens and expels the hard feces), an appetizer, pleasant after consumption and reduces Kapha, Pitta, and fevers. It also brings relief from urinary diseases, dyspnea, cough, Rakta diseases, burning sensation skin diseases, and worm infestations. In recent research, katuki is found to have various active ingredients like iridoid glycoside, picroside I and Kutkoside, veronicoside, minecoside, phenol glycosides like picein and androsin, cucurbitacin glycosides and 4- hydroxy- 3-methoxy acetophenone, etc due to which Katuki exhibits hepato- protective, immune-modulatory, anti- diabetic, digestive activity, etc


कटाति वर्षति पित्तस्रावं वर्धयतीति ।

Katuki is an herb which helps in releasing bile (Choleretic).

Synonyms of Katuki

  • According to habitat

काण्डरूहाकाण्डेन रोहति 

Katuki plants may be grown by stem cutting.

  • According to Morphology

मत्स्यशकला– मत्स्यस्य शकलमिव शकलमस्या

Rhizomes of Katuki resemble fish scales.

चक्रांगी – चक्राकारकाण्डच्छेद

When cut the stem spears like a wheel.

कृष्णभेदा- कृष्ण: भेदश्चदो अस्या: ।

On breaking the rhizome, it becomes black powder.

  • According to Properties and Action

तिक्ता– तिक्तरसा 

Katuki has a very bitter taste.

कटवी –अस्वादु

Katuki has an unpalatable taste.

मत्स्यपित्ता– स्वादे कर्मणि  मत्स्यपित्तवत्।

Katuki has a bitter taste like that of fish bile and even the action is also similar to the bile of the fish.

आमघ्नि– आमं हन्तीति 

Katuki mitigates Ama.

रोहिणी– रोहयति पुनर्जीवयति शरीरें यकृदूबलदानेन रक्तशोधनेन चेति | रोहः लोहित॑तन्मूलाय यकृते हितकारिणी  

Katuki purifies blood and improves the liver function thus act as regenerative.

कटुरोहिणी – कटुश्चासौ रोहिणी च।

Katuki has regenerative actions.

Regional Names of Katuki

  • Hellebore, Picrorrhiza (English)
  • Kutki (Hindi)
  • Katukrohini (Kannada)
  • Kadukrohini (Malayalam)
  • Kalikutki (Marathi)
  • Katukarogini (Tamil)
  • Katuka Rohini (Telegu)
  • Kaundd (Punjabi)
  • Kadu (Gujarati)

Botanical Name

Picrorrhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.

Picrorrhiza means Palmented root


Scrophulariaceae (Katuki Kula)

Ayurveda Reference for Katuki (Picrorrhiza kurroa Willd.)

Scientific Classification of Katuki

Class Dicotyledons 
Series Bicarpellate
Family Scrophulariaceae
Species kurroa

Classification of Katuki as per Charaka and Sushruta

Charaka: Bhedniya Mahakshaya, Lekhniya Mahakashaya, Satnya Shodhana Mahakshaya, Prajasthapana Mahakshaya, Balya Mahakshaya, Sangya Sthapana Mahakshaya.

Sushruta: Patoladi Gana, Pipplyadi Gana, Mustadi Gana

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Arishta

Arishta is considered to be a synonym for Katuka or Gangeruki.

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Su. 4/ 49, C. S. Sa. 8/ 29, 89

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Ashokarohini

This is usually accepted as Katuka but according to Arunadatta, this is a climber having leaves like those of Asoka. It may be, according to him, Erycibe paniculata Roxb., which is called Urimbida in Orissa while Asoka is known there as Husargada.

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Su. 4/ 48, C. S. Sa. 8/ 93, C. S. Ka. 1/ 26

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. Su. 42/ 18

Vagbhata: A. H. U. 2/ 47

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Tikta Rohini, Tiktaka Rohini

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Chi. 3/ 241, C. S. Chi. 7/ 139, 143, C. S. Chi. 12/ 20, 51, 70, C. S. Chi. 26/ 90, C. S. Chi. 27/ 29

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. Chi. 5/ 10, S. S. Chi. 16/ 17, S. S. U. 45/ 32

Vagbhata: A. H. Chi. 10/ 56, A. H. Chi. 15/ 22, A. H. U. 22/ 103

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Bhadra Rohini

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. U. 40/ 105

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Rohini

Rohini has been accepted as a synonym of Katuka-got, Katutumbi, a variety of Haritaki, and Katphala but there is no indication of the use of Mamsarohini which is popularly known as Rohina in tribal areas and many parts of the country. This has been identified with Soymida febrifuga A. Juss. Katuka has been used in the texts under the names of Katurohini, Tiktarohini, and Katvi, etc., and where the use of Rohiniphala (fruit) and bark has been indicated the use of Katuka seems to be overruled. Thus, the use of Soymida bark may be tried in some places, especially where the wound-healing properties have been emphasized.

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Su. 4/ 7, 48, C. S. Chi. 3/ 257, C. S. Chi. 7/ 99, 127, C. S. Chi. 30/ 258, C. S. Si. 11/ 24

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. Su. 38/ 48, S. S. Su. 42/ 18, S. S. Chi. 1/ 94, S. S. Chi. 18/ 5, S. S. Ka. 8/ 50, S. S. U. 34/ 5, S. S. U. 39/ 210

Vagbhata: A. H. Chi. 21/ 59, A. H. Ka. 4/ 37, A. H. U. 2/ 55, A. H. U. 5/ 20, A. H. U. 9/ 32

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Shakuladini

It has been used as a potherb except in C. S. Su. 4. 4. As a vegetable it is astringent. In C. S. Both Sakuladani and Jalapippali have been mentioned separately as different pot herbs. According to Bhavamisra, Gandadarvi-, Matsyaksi, and Sakuladani have also been mentioned as synonyms and if Alternanthera sessilis ( Linn.) R. Br. is accepted as this Sakuladani, it may also be used as Sakuladani Saka (vegetable) of the texts. In C. S. Su. 4.4, however, Katuka, being one of the purgative ( Bhedaniya) group of drugs may be accepted.

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Su. 4/ 4, C. S. Su. 27/ 93

Vagbhata: A. H. Su. 6/ 77

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Tikta, Tikta Dwaya

Tiktadvaya evidently refers to Tikta ( Katuka) and Kakatikta. Tiktadvaya in A. H. Su. 15. 40 i.e., Mustale gana is in the place of Katurohini and Sargnesta of the same Gana in S. S. Su. 38. 54. 1 Therefore, it appears that Kakatikta and Sargnest are synonyms whose identity has been discussed under Sargnesta.

Charaka Samhita: C. S. Chi. 3/ 342, C. S. Si. 3/ 59

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. Chi. 5/ 10, S. S. Chi. 9/ 29, S. S. Chi. 38/ 105

Vagbhata: A. H. Chi. 15/ 40, A. H. Chi. 1/ 60, 64, 68, 90, A. H. Chi. 9/ 105, A. H. Chi. 10/ 34, 40, 53, A. H. Chi. 13/ 14, A. H. Chi. 19/ 33, 38, A. H. Chi. 21/ 48, A. H. Chi. 22/ 10, A. H. U. 2/ 24, 25, A. H. U. 5/ 19, A. H. U. 22/ 98, 104, A. H. U. 39/ 79

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Katvi

Sushruta Samhita: S. S. Su. 42/ 18

Vagbhata: A. H. Su. 14/ 25, A. H. Chi. 6/ 45, A. H. Chi. 16/ 13, A. H. U. 37/ 74

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Ullaka

Ullaka is considered to be a synonym for Katuka or Lata Kasturi.

Vagbhata: A. H. Chi. 8/ 149

Katuki’s Description in Brihtrayi as Katurohini, Katukarohini, Katukakhyarohini

Charaka Shusruta Vagbhata (Ashtang Hridya)
C. S. Su. 4/ 3, 18S. S. Su. 36/ 15, 16A. H. Su. 15/ 15
C. S. Su. 23/ 18S. S. Su. 38/ 22, 33, 54A. H. Chi. 1/ 48, 49, 160
C. S. Vi. 8/ 150S. S. Chi. 5/ 8A. H. Chi. 3/ 162
C. S. Chi. 3/ 200, 203, 206, 209, 211, 218, 298S. S. Chi. 9/ 8, 9A. H. Chi. 4/ 52
C. S. Chi. 5/ 105, 114, 118S. S. Chi. 11/ 8A. H. Chi. 10/ 57
C. S. Chi. 6/ 40S. S. Chi. 15/ 21A. H. Chi. 12/ 26
C. S. Chi. 7/ 61, 101, 105, 108, 131, 135S. S. Chi. 17/ 44A. H. Chi. 14/ 55
C. S. Chi. 9/ 51S. S. Chi. 22/ 54, 74A. H. Chi. 19/ 28
C. S. Chi. 10/ 17S. S. Ka. 5/ 65A. H. Ka. 2/ 27
C. S. Chi. 13/ 132S. S. Ka. 6/ 18A. H. U. 2/ 14
C. S. Chi. 14/ 235S. S. U. 39/ 185, 189, 204A. H. U. 6/ 35
C. S. Chi. 15/ 102, 137, 173, 182, 188S. S. U. 40/ 37, 39, 43, 61A. H. U. 7/ 20
C. S. Chi. 16/ 46, 98, 122S. S. U. 42/ 111A. H. U. 30/ 25
C. S. Chi. 17/ 140S. S. U. 47/ 33A. H. U. 34/ 64
C. S. Chi. 19/ 87, 112S. S. U. 50/ 28A. H. U. 39/ 46
C. S. Chi. 21/ 58, 59S. S. U. 51/ 43
C. S. Chi. 27/ 29, 34, 35
C. S. Ka. 7/ 57
C. S. Si. 12/ 27

Historical Background of Katuki

Charaka indicated it for the treatment/management of Pandu and Grahani mainly. Asokarohini of Brihat Trayi (C. S. Su. 4/ 48, S. S. Su. 42/ 18 & A. H. Ut. 2/ 47) is believed to be a climber having leaves like those of Asoka. Which is identified with Erycibe paniculata Roxb. It may be the other variety of Katuki mentioned as Rohini by Sodhala later. Ullaka, of Vagbhata (A. H.  Ci. 8/149) may be the synonym of either Katuka & or Latakasturi. The names Katuka and Katuka rohini are used the majority of times in the Brihattrayi works. Katvi is the synonym mentioned by Susruta and Vagbhata a limited number of times. Tiktarohini and Tikta are the names that are befitting to be herb P. Kurroa owing to its bitter taste. Tikta Dravay as mentioned by Vagbhata (A. H. Su. 15/ 40), are Tikta and Kaka Tikta. Sushruta earlier quoted Katurohini and Sargnesta in the place of these two herbs (S. S. Su. 38/ 54). Both are mentioned in the context of Mustadi gana. Therefore Kaka Tikta and Sargnesta appear to be synonyms of the same plant which is identified by many as Physalis minima Linn. or Cardiospermum helicacabum Linn. (Preferably the latter one). Sharngdhara quoted it as an example of Bhedana drugs. It is proved to be an excellent choleretic agent and hepatoprotective agent. Picroliv is the component patented by CDRI, Lucknow.

External Morphology of Picrorrhiza kurroa

  • Habit – Katuki is a creeping herb, which spreads by stolon. A whorl of radical leaves arises from the rhizome tip.
  • Root – Primary root of Katuki grows a maximum of up to 38 cm in length, but is usually 6-10 inches long. Many adventitious roots arise from the rhizome.
  • Shoot – Stem of Katuki is represented by stolon and underground rhizome which bear leaves and flowering scape.
  • Leaves – Leaves of Katuki are 5-10 cm long, oval with a sharp apex, flat and serrated.
  • Inflorescence – Inflorescence of Katuki is an indeterminate spike forming more or less a triangular head.
  • Flower – Flowers are white or pale purple, bisexual, and have a convex thalamus.
  • Fruit – Capsule, 1-15 cm long and oval shaped.
  • Seed – Extremely small sized 1 mm long and 1 mm wide. The embryo is enclosed in the large bladdery loose hyaline reticulate taste.

Flowering and fruiting time

Katuki grows in the Himalayan region from Kashmir to Sikkim at a height of 7000 to 14000 feet.

Distribution of Katuki

The plant occurs in the western Himalayas and Indus valley to the Kumaon region. It is found wild in Uttar Pradesh’s hilly region at 3,000-6,000 ft. altitude.

Varieties of Katuki

There are two varieties of Katuki mentioned in Nighantus i.e Katuka Rohini (Picrorrhiza kurroa) and Ashoka Rohini (E. paniculata).

The Useful Part of Katuki


The rhizome is straight or slightly arched, cylindrical, up to 12 cm long, and 4 to 10 mm in diameter. The outer surface is gray or creamish brown, bearing impressions of round root scars and numerous scales. Rhizome terminates in a scaly leaf, bed, or stem. A transversely cut portion of the rhizome shows a smooth dark brown surface with large creamish vascular bundles arranged in a prominent broken ring. On breaking becomes short pieces and black powders spread around, having a faint, disagreeable odor. The taste is very bitter.

Important Phytoconstituent of Katuki

Irridoid bitter substances, picroside I, Picroside IL, Kutkoside Kutkin, and Picrorhizin are present in Rhizome. Roots contain Kutkin, Kurrin, Vanillic acid, Kutkiol, Kutkisterol, D-Mannitol, Picroside I, Picroside I, and a glucoside called Kutkoside.

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Recent Research on Katuki

  • This study attempts to determine the in vivo pharmacokinetic profile of picrosides I and II in rats after oral administration of three different preparations namely, kut kin (a mixture of picrosides I and II) P. kurroa extract and Picrolax capsule (marketed formulation). Upadhyay D, Dash RP, Anandjiwala S, Nivasarkar M. Comparative pharmacokinetic profiles of picrosides I and II from kut kin, Picrorhiza kurroa extract and its formulation in rats. Fitoterapia. 2013 Mar; 85: 76- 83. doi: 10. 1016/ j. fitote. 2013. 01. 004. Epub 2013 Jan 18.
  • The antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of methanolic and aqueous extracts of P. kurroa rhizome were investigated in the present study. The study concludes that P. kurroa possesses diverse therapeutic potentials which might be useful in the development of drugs or their precursors. Rajkumar V, Guha G, Kumar RA. Antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of Picrorhiza kurroa extracts. Food Chem Toxicology. 2011 Feb; 49 (2): 363- 9. doi: 10. 1016/ j. ft. 2010. 11. 009. Epub 2010 Nov 21.
  • The present study was undertaken to investigate the effect of standardized aqueous extract of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth. on diabetes. The findings provide in vivo evidence that a standardized extract of Picrorhiza kurroa possesses significant antidiabetic activity in streptozotocin nicotinamide-induced type- 2 diabetes mellitus in rats. Husain GM, Singh PN, Kumar V. Anti-diabetic activity of standardized extract of Picrorhiza kurroa in a rat model of NIDDM. Drug Discovery The. 2009 Jun; 3 (3): 88- 92.
  • The effect of P. kurroa treatment on the antiproliferative response and hepatic antioxidant enzymes of rats administered with 2- acetylaminofluorene (2-AAF) was studied in Wistar rats. There was an increase in the levels of transaminase, enzymes, and LDH. 2- AAF treatment also enhanced ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) activity and [3H] thymidine incorporation into hepatic DNA. Pretreatment of rats orally with P. kurroa extract (250 and 500 mg/ kg body weight) resulted in significant decreases in lipid peroxidation, transaminase en-Zymes, LDH, hepatic ODC activity, and DNA synthesis (P< 0.001). Rahman S, Sultana S. Protective effects of Picorrhiza kurroa extract against 2-acetylaminofluorene induced hepatotoxicity in Wistar rats. J. ENVIRONMENT, Patho toxicology. 2007. 26 (3), 195- 205.
  • Singh, Harbans & Sharma, Y. (2011). Clinical evaluation of the hepatoprotective effect of Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.) processed in Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia Wild.) Miers in patients receiving lipid-lowering drugs (Statins). Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 10. 657- 660. Hypolipidaemic drugs have attracted considerable attention because of their potential to prevent cardiovascular disease by retarding accelerated atherosclerosis in hyperlipidaemic individuals. Statins are the first-choice drugs for primary hyperlipidemias with raised LDL and total cholesterol levels, with or without raised triglycerides levels, as well as for secondary hypercholesterolemia. Statin therapy is commonly associated with liver damage in terms of elevated amino transaminases. Simultaneous use of hepatotoxicity-reducing formulation is desirable for the successful continuation of HMG-CoA reductase inhibitor (stains) over a desired period in hyperlipidaemic patients. So, the present clinical study was planned to evaluate the hepatoprotective effect of Katuki (Picrorhiza karma Royle ex Benth.) processed in Guduchi [Tinospora cordifolia (Wild.) Miers], on scientific parameters. In the present clinical trial, two groups of patients receiving the standardized lipid-lowering drug (Atorvastatin 20 mg, twice daily) have been studied to evaluate the hepatoprotective effect of these drugs. The first group was given 2 gm of Katuki processed in Guduchi, twice daily with statin therapy. The second group was given 500 mg of starch powder filled in capsules, twice daily with statin therapy. The trial was conducted for three months, and liver functions tests were periodically evaluated to assess the hepatoprotective effect of the drugs under trial. At the end of the trial, the trial group exhibited its hepatoprotective efficiency over the control.
  • Kant, Kamal & Walia, Mayanka & Agnihotri, Vijai & Pathania, Vijaylata & Singh, Bikram. (2013). Evaluation of Antioxidant Activity of Picrorhiza kurroa (Leaves) Extracts. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 75. 324-329. 10.4103/0250-474X.117438. Picrorhiza kurroa is a well-known herb in Ayurvedic medicine. Although it shows antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory activities, it is most valued for its hepatoprotective effect. The rhizomes are widely used against indigestion problems since ancient times due to improper digestive secretions. This study aimed to explore the antioxidant study of P. kurroa leaves for a new source of naturally occurring antioxidants. Two pure compounds, luteolin-5-O-glucopyranoside (1) and picein (2) were isolated from butanol extract through column chromatography. Different extracts of P. kurroa leaves (ethanol, ethyl acetate, butanol) were quantified for isolated compound (2) by high-performance liquid chromatography. All the extracts and isolated compounds were evaluated for their antioxidant activity using two assays, 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical and 2, 2′- casino- bis (3-ethyl benzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) assay. The linear detection range was 1.56-200 μg/ml for picein. The limit of detection and limit of quantification for picein were 2.34 and 7.81 μg/ml, respectively. Butanol and ethyl acetate extract showed greater antioxidant activity as compared to ethanol extract. Compound 1 and ascorbic acid showed nearly similar antioxidant activity whereas 2 showed no activity at standard concentration. The IC 50 values for 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical and 2,2′-casino-bis (3-ethylbenzothiazoline-6-sulphonic acid) assay for ascorbic acid, compound 1, ethanol extract and its different fractions (ethyl acetate and butanol) were found to be 0.81, 1.04, 67.48, 39.58, 37.12 and 2.59, 4.02, 48.36, 33.24, 29.48 μg, respectively.
  • Raina, Ravinder & Mehra, T.s & Chand, Rupa & Sharma, Yash. (2010). Reproductive Biology of Picrorhiza kurroa – a Critically Endangered High-Value Temperate Medicinal Plant. Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. 1. 40-43. Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex. Benth. (Family: Scrophulariaceae), an important endangered temperate medicinal plant used as a hepatic stimulant is a perennial herb propagated mostly by stolen segments. Chromosome number and its reproductive behavior are reported for the first time. Meiosis is normal in the species with 2n=34 chromosomes. P. kurroa mostly prefers out-crossing as evinced by pollination experiments and floral architecture.
  • Hepatoprotective activity is noticed with decoction against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity in rats (Chaturvedi & Singh, 1965).
  • The alcoholic extract showed protection against CCl4-induced hepatotoxicity. Marked regression of SGOT, SGPT & alkaline phosphatase levels are noticed (Pandey & Chaturvedi, 1968).
  • Water soluble fraction of 90% alcoholic extract exhibited smooth muscle relaxant laxative (in rats) and choleretic (in dogs) activities (Das & Raina 1967).
  • Rats treated with alcoholic PE and chloroform extracts regressed the transaminase levels even when subjected to CCl4-induced liver injury (Pandey & Chaturvedi, 1969).
  • The alcoholic extract showed a hydro choleretic action with a simultaneous fall in the concentration of biliary bilirubin, cholesterol, and alkaline phosphatase in dogs (Pandey & Chaturvedi, 1970).
  • Apocyanin showed choleretic action in the dog and also produced a moderate to marked relaxation of the rabbit ileum (Basu et al., 1971).
  • The ethanolic extract exhibited marked hydro choleretic activity in anesthetized dogs (Vohora et al., 1972). (Dhar et al., 1973).
  • The 50% ethanolic extract revealed diuretic activity in () Kutkin, as well as two acids (Cinnamic & vanillic), which showed significant choleretic and laxative activities. Kunkin and vanillic acid were relatively more potent than cinnamic acid (Das et al. 1976).
  • The aqueous extract showed moderate antibacterial activity against Staph. aureus and Sal. typhi and marked inhibition against Esch. coli (Vohora et al., 1972).
  • P. Kurroa has also been claimed to have led to beneficial results in the management of bronchial asthma (Rajaram, 1976).
  • P. Kurroa and Cichorium intybus extracts showed almost equal beneficial effects against chlorpromazine-induced hepatic injury in rats (Pandey, 1980).
  • The alcoholic extract reversed the altered activities of
  • Na* K+ ATPase in animals subjected to hepatic injury by paracetamol and aflatoxin (Moore et al, 1981).
  • In a clinical study of 20 patients with bronchial asthma, P. Kurroa showed significant improvement in reducing the frequency and severity of asthmatic attacks (Yegnanarayanan et al., 1982).
  • Root and rhizome extract exhibited hepatoprotective activity in the rat. Active principle identified as Kutkin and Kutkin- free fraction found to be devoid of any activity (I.J.M.R. 1988, 87, 401).
  • Plant extract suppressed inflammatory edema at 1 hr., 3 hr., and 5 hr. post-insult in rats. Macrophage depletion in animals did not affect the anti-inflammatory effect of the extract (Ind. J. Physiology Pharmacology. 1988, 32, 289).
  • Alcoholic extract of roots exhibited anti-inflammatory activity in adjuvant-induced and formaldehyde arthritis in rats and mice (Phytotherapy. Res. 1993, 7, 402).

Rasa Panchaka of Katuki

Rasa (Taste)Tikta (bitter)
Guna (Virtue)Laghu (light), Ruksha (dry)
Virya (potency)Sheeta (cold potency) (Ushana by Priya Nighantu)
Vipaka (post-digestion)Katu (pungent)

Dosha Karma of Katuki

Kapha- Pitta Shamaka

Pitta Shamaka due to Sheeta Virya and Tikta Rasa. Kapha Hara because of Tikta, Rasa and Katu Vipaka.

Karma (Actions) of Katuki

Bhedana, Dipana, Hrdya, Jwaraghna, Pramehahara, Swasahara, Kasahara, Dahahara, Kusthaghna, Krimighna, Visaamajwaraghna, Arsoghna.

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Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indication) of Katuki

Kamala, Yakrut vikara, Vibandha, Hridroga, Agnimandya, Jwara, Visamajawara, Prameha, Swasa, Kasa, Daha, Kustha, Krimi, Arsas, Raktavikara.

Aamyik Paryog (Therapeutic Uses) of Katuki

Jwara (Fever):-

  • Katuka, finely powdered and mixed with sugar, alleviates fever caused by pitta. (Ashtanga Sangreha Chikitsa Sthana. 1. 76, Gada Nigreha. 2. 1. 238)
  • If one takes Katuka 10 gm mixed with sugar along with warm water, he overcomes fever caused by Kapha and Pitta. (Vrinda Madhava. 1. 128)
  • Katuka is powdered and then heated on an earthen piece. The juice expressed therefrom and mixed with ghee alleviates fever and burning sensation. (Ashtanga Hridya Chikitsa Sthana. 1/ 59)
  • Oil cooked with powder of Katuka or leaves of Guduchi or juice of Sahadevi alleviates fever. (Vaidya Manorma. 1. 22)

Paandu, Kaamla (Anaemia-Jaundice):-

  • Katukadya Ghrita (Charka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 6. 47- 49)
  • Katuka 10 gm. with sugar, juice of Dronapuspi applied as collyrium, and snuffing with powder of devadali- each one of them alleviates anemia. (Siddha Bhaishjya Manni Mala. 4. 282)

Hridya Roga (Heart Disease):- In heart disease caused by pitta, one should take a paste of katuka and madhuka with sugar water. (Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 26/ 91, Ashtanga Hridya Chikitsa Sthana. 6/ 44. Vagbhata adds sugar to the paste itself)

Amlapitta (Gastritis): (In Amlapitta) Katuka mixed with sugar or patola and Sunthi mixed with honey should be taken. In case of hemorrhage, however, khanda- Kusmandaka is the best formulation. (Vaidya Manorma. 53. 14)

Stanya Shodhana (For Purification of Breast Milk): For purification of breast milk, the decoction of Katuka should be given. (Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 30. 261- 61)

Kustha (Skin Disorder): Katuka mixed with ativisa, usira, and Chandana is efficacious in kustha. (Charka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 7/ 132)

Hikka (Hiccough): In hiccough, the following four formulations mixed with honey are useful (1) fruit and flower of patella (2) red ochre and katuka (3) kernel of kharjura and pippali, and (4) kasisa, and kapittha. (Sushruta Samhita Uttara Tantra. 50/ 27- 28)

Benefits of Katuki

Liver Disorders: Kutaki exhibits hepato- stimulant, hepato- protective properties, due to which it affects the liver and gives marvelous effects on jaundice. Katuki helps in normalizing the liver enzyme levels by secreting the bile. Katuki also helps to normalize and detoxify the liver.

Promotes a Healthy Heart: Katuki exhibits cardio-protective properties due to its strong antioxidant nature. Katuki not only helps to lower the cholesterol level but also helps in dilating the blood vessels. Katuki helps in reducing the risk of a heart attack.

Weight Loss: Katuki helps lower the LDL in the body and along with this Katuki consists of lots of flavonoids which help in losing fats faster. Katukrohini which is bitter also consists of lots of essential nutrients and fibers which prevent overeating by satiates sudden hunger pangs.

Prevent Respiratory Issues: Katuki is full of anti-asthmatic, anti-inflammatory, and antibiotic properties which is very beneficial in treating and preventing respiratory issues.

Prevents and Heals Ulcers: Katuki has marvelous anti-ulcer and anti-inflammatory properties which helps in treating different types of ulcers like Ulcerative colitis, canker sore, peptic ulcers, etc.

Diabetes: Kutaki has hypoglycemic properties due to which it helps in the production of beta cells from the pancreas, also reduces the breakdown of starch into glucose, and thus lowers the blood glucose level in the body.

Benefits of Katuki on Different Systems of Bodies

Digestive System: Bitter to taste, if given in small doses it stimulates taste buds and increases appetite, liver stimulant, and cholagogue. An excess amount acts as a purgative. It is also anthelmintic. In small doses, it is useful in conditions like loss of appetite, liver disorders, and jaundice which are due to obstruction in biliary passages. In constipation, flatulence, and ascites, it acts as a purgative if given in large doses. When given in congestive cardiac failure it causes watery diarrhea. This reduces the circulatory hydrostatic pressure on the heart and thereby the workload on it. It is an appetizer, purgative and vermifuge and hence is useful in abdominal diseases.

Circulatory System: It is Pittavaha Srotogami and RaktavahaSrotogami. It reduces heart rate and palpitations. It increases heart strength and blood pressure. Purifying blood reduces inflammation. It reduces pulse rate which is similar to the action of digitalis. In heart disease, kutaki and glycyrrhiza in equal quality with sugar are prescribed. It is used for jaundice and anemia.

Respiratory System: As it acts on the rakta dhatu, it reduces pulmonary disorders. Being an expectorant, it alleviates cough and dyspnea.

Urinary System: It acts as a diuretic in diabetes.

Skin: It reduces burning and pruritus induced by improper secretion and excretion of bile. It reduces kapha and pitta dosha in blood. It is used in many skin disorders.

Temperature: Useful in fever, pitta shodan and increases the flow of bile, reduces burning in fever. Rigors in malarial fever are suppressed with kutaki shodan in 3 gm. doses.

Satmikaran: Rasayani in a small dose; acts as scraping (lekhan) in a large dose. It is a boon to the physician by this dual action.

Matra (Therapeutic Administration and Dosage) of Katuki

  • Kwatha (Decoction): 40- 60 ml
  • Churna (Powder): 0.5 to 1 gram (therapeutic) and 3- 6 grams (purgative)
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Classical Reference of Katuki

Bhava Prakasha Nighantu Haritkyadi Varga- 151


कट्वी तु कटुका तिक्ता कृष्णभेदा कटम्भरा ।

अशोका मत्स्यशकला चक्रांगी शकुलादनी ।।

मत्स्यपित्ता काण्डरुहा रोहिणी कटु रोहिणी: ।

Bhava Prakasha Nighantu Haritkyadi Varga- 152

Properties and Actions

कट्वी तु कटुका पाके तिक्ता रूक्षा हिमा लघु: ।

भेदिनी  दीपनी हद्या कफपित्तज्वरापहा ।

प्रमेह श्वास कासास्रदाहकुष्ठकृमिप्रणुत्‌।।

Dhanwantri Nighantu Guduchyadi Varga- 38

Properties and Action

कटुका पित्तजित्तिक्ता कटुः शीतास्रदाहजित्‌ ।

बलासारोचकान्‌ हन्ति विषमज्वरनाशिनी ।।

Kaiydeva Nighantu Aushadi Varga, 1123- 1124

कटुका शीतला तिक्ता कटुपाकरसा लघु: ।

भेदनी  दीपनी रूक्षा  कफपित्तज्वरापहा ।।

प्रमेहश्वास कासार्श: दाह कुष्ठकमीन्‌ जयेत्‌ ।।

Raja Nighantu Pipplyadi Varga, 132

कटुका अतिकटुस्तिक्ता शीतपित्तास्र दोषजित्‌ ।

बलासारोचक श्वास ज्वर हद्रेचनी च सा ।।

Priya Nighantu Shatpushpadi Varga, 157- 158

कटुका तु रसे तिक्ता वीर्यो उष्ण  भेदनी सरा ।

कफपित्तहरी वन्हि वर्धनी पित्तरेचनी ।।

ज्वरे रक्तविकारेषु कुष्ठे कृमिगदे तथा।

यकृद्वोगे कामलायां विबन्धे तु प्रशस्यते ।।

Dhanwantri Nighantu Guduchyadi Varga

कटुका मत्स्यशकला मत्स्यपित्ता च रोहिणी । 

कृष्णभेदा काण्डरुहा नाम् कटुकरोहिणी।। 

अशोकरोहिणी तिक्ता चक्रांगी शकुलादनी । 

कटुरोहिण्यरिष्टा च प्रोक्ता तिक्तकरोहिणी।। 

आमघनी  शतपर्वा च विप्राज्ञी जननी जना। 

कटुका पित्तजित्तिक्ता कटु:  शीतास्रदाहजित्‌ ।

बलासारोचकान्‌ हन्ति विषमज्वरनाशिनी।। 

Shodhala Nighantu

कटुकायां सुचित्रांगी मत्स्यपित्ता च रोहिणी।। 

जननी मत्स्यशकला चक्रांगी शकुलादनी ।

आमध्नी शतपर्वा च नाम्रा तिक्तकरोहिणी ||

Shodhala Nighantu

रोहिण्यां रक्तहंत्री च कासघ्नी चंद्रवल्लभा । 

कटुकाहवा सरा रूक्षा कफपित्तज्वरापहा । रोहिणी वातहत्कास श्वास शोणितनाशनी

 Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 7/ 132

आलेपन प्रियंगुहरेनुका वत्सकस्य  फलानि।

सातिविषा   सेव्यचंदनारोहिणीकटुका 

Charaka Samhita Chikitsa Sthana. 30/ 261

पायेयेत अथवा स्तन्यशुद्धया रोहिणी शृतं।

Ashtanga Hridya Chikitsa Sthana, 6/ 44

कटवी मधुककल्कञ्चपिबेतसितअंभसा।

Specific Formulation of Katuki

  • Arogyavardhini Vati for Kustha and Yakrit Vikara (used in treating liver disorders, skin diseases, and fever)
  • Sarivadyasava – Fermented liquid medicine, used in treating gout, diabetes, and skin disorders.
  • Mahatiktaka Ghrita – Herbal ghee medicine used in skin diseases
  • Katurohini churna – For Kapha Pittaja Jwara used in Kaphapitta jwara
  • Mahayograj Guggul – Used mainly in joint and skin disorders.
  • Katukamaladi kshaya – Used as Mala Shodhanartha.
  • Katukadi Kashaya for Kapha Pittaja Jwara

Adulteration of Katuki

Bitter plants and sometimes the roots of coconut are used. Roots of Lagotis glauca Gaertn. It is also used as an adulterant.

Substitution of Katuki

Trayamana (Gentiana kurroa)

Toxic Study of Katuki

The tincture of Katuki is unpalatable due to its bitter taste. So Katuki is administered as an encapsulated powder extract with 4% of Kutkin in it. LD50 of Kutaki (Kutkin) is greater than 2600 mg per Kg in rats with no data available for humans.

Contraindication and Side Effects of Katuki

  • Katuki if taken in Ati Matra i.e higher dosage may result in Purgation as it is Rechaka (purgative) in nature. Therefore, it should be used in recommended dosage as prescribed by a doctor.
  • Use strict supervision for Grabhini (pregnant ladies)
  • Use in low dosage in children.
  • Overdosage of Katuki may result in nausea, anorexia, abdominal pain, Rash and headache, etc.

Suggestive Reading Regarding Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa)

  • Nagar, Lalit & Lamo, Ringzin & Rath, Sudipt. (2020). HPLC STUDY OF GENUINE SAMPLE OF KATUKI (PICRORHIZA KURROA ROYLE EX BENTH) AND ITS MARKET SAMPLE. World Journal of Pharmaceutical Research. 6. 1078- 1086. 10. 20959/ wjpr201715- 10166.
  • Arya, Vikrant. (2014). Pharmacognostic studies on Rohini.
  • Singh, Harbans & Sharma, Y.. (2011). Clinical evaluation of the hepatoprotective effect of Katuki (Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.) processed in Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia Wild.) Miers in patients receiving lipid-lowering drugs (Statins). Indian Journal of Traditional Knowledge. 10. 657- 660.
  • Partial, Vanita & Devi, Kiran & Sharma, Madhu & Bhattacharya, Amita & Ahuja, Paramvir. (2012). Propagation of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth: An important medicinal plant of Western Himalaya. Journal of medicinal plant research. 6. 4848- 4860. 10. 5897/ JMPR12. 115.
  • Thani, Parbat Raj. “A comprehensive review on Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.” Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry 10, no. 3 (2021): 307- 313.
  • Sardana, Kabir, and Soumya Sachdeva. “Role of nutritional supplements in selected dermatological disorders: A review.” Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 21, no. 1 (2022): 85- 98.
  • Rokaya, Maan B., Bidur Parajuli, Kuber P. Bhatta, and Binu Timsina. “Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora (Pennell) Hong: a comprehensive review of its traditional uses, phytochemistry, pharmacology, and safety.” Journal of ethnopharmacology 247 (2020): 112250.
  • Nidhi, N. Chauhan, Mistry Rujuta, Mandale Drasti, Ugharatdar Siddik Ismail, Dadubhai Ezaj, and C. Patel Vaishnavi. “Formulation, Evaluation, and Comparison of the Poly Herbal Anti-Diabetic Tablet with the Commercial Tablets.” Diabetes 1 (2025): 6.
  • Chandra, Naveen, Gajendra Singh, Shashank Lingwal, Ishwari Datt Rai, and Lalit Mohan Tewari. “Alpine medicinal and aromatic plants in the Western Himalaya, India: An ecological review.” Indian Journal of Ecology 48, no. 2 (2021): 319- 331.
  • Kulatunga, R. D. H., E. D. T. P. Gunarathna, N. D. N. Jayawardhana, R. H. S. K. De Silva, R. L. D. S. Ranasinghe, M. H. Faisulhaq, U. K. A. Samarasinha, and L. D. A. M. Arawwawala. “A comparative analytical study on two types of Sharibadi decoctions: An Ayurveda preparation.” (2019).
  • Tarapure S, Tubaki BR, Khot S. Elastographic liver evaluation of Katukyadi churna in the management of Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) – A single-arm clinical trial. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2021 Jan- Mar; 12 (1): 136- 142. doi: 10. 1016/ j. jaim. 2020. 12. 015. Epub 2021 Feb 10. PMID: 33579578; PMCID: PMC 8039359.
  • Naleefa, M. N. F., S. M. S. Samarakoon, and S. K. M. K. Herapathdeniya. “Seetharama Vati: A Polyherbomineral Formulation of Sri Lankan Indigenous Medicine.” (2021).
  • Shetty SN, Mengi S, Vaidya R, Vaidya AD. A study of standardized extracts of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth in experimental nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Ayurveda Integrated Med. 2010 Jul; 1 (3): 203- 10. doi: 10. 4103/ 0975-9476. 72622. PMID: 21547049; PMCID: PMC 3087357.
  • Vaidya, Ashok & Antarkar, D & Doshi, J & Bhatt, Arun & Ramesh, V & Vora, P & Perissond, D & AJ, Baxi & PM, Kale. (1996). Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent–experimental & clinical studies. Journal of Postgraduate Medicine. 42.
  • Miral, Dobariya & Patel, Ks & Bhinde, Sagar. (2022). Management of Childhood Psoriasis through Ayurveda. 9. 21- 29.
  • Salma, Umme & Kundu, Suprabuddha & Gantait, Saikat. (2017). Phytochemistry and Pharmaceutical Significance of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth.
  • Singh, Sarvesh Kumar & Rajoria, Kshipra. (2014). Ayurvedic Herbs in the Management of Geriatric Problems: A Review.
  • Kant, Kamal & Walia, Mayanka & Agnihotri, Vijai & Pathania, Vijaylata & Singh, Bikram. (2013). Evaluation of Antioxidant Activity of Picrorhiza kurroa (Leaves) Extracts. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences. 75. 324- 329. 10. 4103/ 0250- 474X. 117438.
  • Narayan, Jit & Sah, Jit & Varshney, Vinay. (2013). Chemical constituents of Picrorhiza genus: a review. American Journal of Essential Oil and Natural Products. 1. 22- 37.
  • Sharma, Yash. (2018). Phytochemical study of Kutki- Parbat.
  • Mall, Amarendra & Chaubey, Suresh & Tiwari, Ramesh & Kour, Gagandeep. (2016). PHARMACOGNOSTICAL STUDY OF KUTAKI (PICRORHIZA KURROA ROYLE EX. BENTH). International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy. 7. 36- 40. 10. 7897/ 2277- 4343. 075215.
  • Banerjee D, Maity B, Nag SK, Bandyopadhyay SK, Chattopadhyay S. Healing potential of Picrorhiza kurroa (Scrofulariaceae) rhizomes against indomethacin-induced gastric ulceration: a mechanistic exploration. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2008 Jan 31; 8: 3. doi: 10. 1186/ 1472- 6882- 8- 3. PMID: 18237397; PMCID: PMC 2266895.
  • Raina, Ravinder & Mehra, T.s & Chand, Rupa & Sharma, Yash. (2010). Reproductive Biology of Picrorhiza kurroa – a Critically Endangered High-Value Temperate Medicinal Plant. Open Access Journal of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants. 1. 40- 43.
  • Shetty SN, Mengi S, Vaidya R, Vaidya AD. A study of standardized extracts of Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth in experimental nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2010 Jul; 1 (3): 203- 10. doi: 10. 4103/ 0975- 9476. 72622. PMID: 21547049; PMCID: PMC 3087357.
  • Zhang DK, Yu JJ, Li YM, Wei LN, Yu Y, Feng YH, Wang X. A Picrorhiza kurroa derivative, picroliv, attenuates the development of dextran-sulfate-sodium-induced colitis in mice. Mediators Inflamm. 2012; 2012: 751629. doi: 10. 1155/ 2012/ 751629. Epub 2012 Oct 16. PMID: 23125487; PMCID: PMC 3480037.
  • Hussain A, Shadma W, Maksood A, Ansari SH. Protective effects of Picrorhiza kurroa on cyclophosphamide-induced immunosuppression in mice. Pharmacognosy Res. 2013 Jan; 5 (1): 30- 5. doi: 10. 4103/ 0974- 8490.105646. PMID: 23598922; PMCID: PMC 3579017.
  • Aggarwal BB, Prasad S, Reuter S, Kannappan R, Yadev VR, Park B, Kim JH, Gupta SC, Phromnoi K, Sundaram C, Prasad S, Chaturvedi MM, Sung B. Identification of novel anti-inflammatory agents from Ayurvedic medicine for prevention of chronic diseases: “reverse pharmacology” and “bedside to bench” approach. Curr Drug Targets. 2011 Oct; 12 (11): 1595- 653. doi: 10. 2174/ 138945011798109464. PMID: 21561421; PMCID: PMC 3170500.
  • Rupapara AV, Donga SB, Dei L. A comparative study on the effect of Pandughnivati and Dhatrilauhavati in the management of Garbhinipandu (Iron Deficiency Anemia). Ayu. 2013 Jul; 34 (3): 276- 80. doi: 10. 4103/ 0974- 8520. 123120. PMID: 24501523; PMCID: PMC 3902594.
  • Maurya VK, Kumar S, Bhatt MLB, Saxena SK. Antiviral activity of traditional medicinal plants from Ayurveda against SARS-CoV-2 infection. J Biomol Struct Dyn. 2022 Mar;40(4):1719-1735. doi: 10. 1080/ 07391102. 2020. 1832577. Epub 2020 Oct 19. PMID: 33073699; PMCID: PMC 7597308.
  • Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, Doshi JC, Bhatt AD, Ramesh V, Vora PV, Perissond D, Baxi AJ, Kale PM. Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent–experimental & clinical studies. J Postgrad Med. 1996 Oct- Dec; 42 (4): 105-8. PMID: 9715310.
  • Debnath, Pritam & Rathore, Shalika & Walia, Swati & Kumar, Manish & Devi, Renu & Kumar, Rakesh. (2020). Picrorhiza kurroa: A promising traditional therapeutic herb from a higher altitude of the western Himalayas. Journal of Herbal Medicine. 23. 100358. 10. 1016/ j. harmed. 2020. 100358.
  • Qureshi, Huma & Masood, Maria & Arshad, Muhammad & Qureshi, Rahmatullah & Sabir, Sidra & Amjad, Muhammad Shoaib & Tahir, Zainab. (2015). Picrorhiza kurroa: An ethnopharmacologically important plant species of the Himalayan region. Pure and Applied Biology.
  • Mannan, Mohd & Mohammad, Zakir & Moin, Md Sanaul & Ahmad, Tasleem & Munawwar, Husain & Kazmi, Munawwar. (2021). A REVIEW OF THE ETHNO-PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF KUTKI (PICRORHIZA KURROA) WITH PARTICULAR REFERENCE TO THE UNANI SYSTEM OF MEDICINE*. XCII-XLVI. 117- 129.
  • Nagar, Lalit. (2020). Chromatographic Study between Katuki (Picrorhizakurroa Royle ex Benth) Rhizomes and Roots.
  • Arya, Deepshikha & Bhatt, Deepika & Kumar, Ravi & Tewari, Lalit & Kishor, Dr. Kamal & Joshi, G. (2013). Studies on natural resources, trade, and conservation of Kutki (Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex Benth., Scrophulariaceae) from Kumaun Himalaya. Scientific research and essays. 8. 575- 580.
  • Thani, Parbat. (2021). Picrorhiza Kurroa Royle ex Benth.. 10. 307- 313.


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  • Bhavprakasha, commentary by Bulusu Sitaram, forwarded by K.C.Chunekar
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  • Priya Nighantu by P. V. Sharma, Shatpushpadi Varga Chaukhamba Krishnadas Academy; Varanasi.
  • Vaidya Manorma, Chaukhamba Orientalia, Varanasi.
  • Shodhala Nighantu, Gada Nigreha
  • Dr. Gyanendra Pandey, Dravyaguna Vigyana, reprint 2012, Chawkhamba Krishnadas Academy
  • K. Niteshwar Dravyaguna Vigyan, reprint 2017.
  • Dr. J.L.N. Sastry and Dr. B.S. Sastry, Dravyaguna Vigyana, Chaukhambha Orientalia, Varanasi.
  • Chakrapanidatta, Chakradatta with the vaidaya Prabha hindi commentary by indra deva tripathi, chaukambha sanskrita sansthan, varanasi 2nd Edition, 1994.

Ayurveda is an Indian system of medicine that is popular since ancient times. Dr. Gupta’s IAFA® has been conducting research studies to find out different phytoconstituents of herbs and their action in the body. Such knowledge acquired by our experts is used in the preparation of medicines and providing the treatment facilities safely and effectively. IAFA® is the provider of safe and effective treatment for a wide range of diseases, mainly allergic diseases all based on Ayurveda.

Dr. Sahil Gupta completed his Bachelor of Ayurveda in Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) and Master’s Degree in Health Administration (MHA) India. He is Registered Ayurvedic Doctor & Vaidya in India having Registration No. 23780. He is the CEO and founder of IAFA. After completing BAMS, Dr. Sahil Gupta started practicing Ayruveda by giving prime importance to allergic disorders management. He became the first Ayurvedic doctor to cure Food Allergies through Ayurveda. Read More About Dr. Sahil Gupta.

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