Picrorhiza kurrooa: An important endangered herb of Himalayas

Himalayas are one of the greatest reservoirs of medicinal and aromatic plants, which have made people to use them for various health related problems. Due to their high therapeutic qualities, they are under high demand in national and international market. The ruthless unscientific extraction from nature and illegal trade of many important medicinal herbs have kept them on the verge of extinction and as a result many species have become endangered in the nature. One such important medicinal herb of Himalayan region is Picrorhiza kurrooa commonly known as Kutki or Kadwi, which is found at an altitude of 2700-4500m.

The herb contains a ‘bitter principle’ which is a mixture of two molecules, the irioid glycosides known as picroside I and picroside II (picroside II also being called kutkoside) and the mixture overall is then called kutkin or picroliv. Overall, these are the active components (https://examine.com/supplements/picrorhiza-kurroa/).

The herb is an indigenous medicine that is a bitter tonic. The Plant is useful in relieving periodic attacks of hysteria, epilepsy and convulsion. The herb helps in promoting the secretion of bile juices and has antibiotic properties as well. The Picrorhiza kurroa is a powerful laxative, a liver stimulant, laxative, appetite stimulator and a febrifuge. Tests have shown that the herb is useful in relieving patients of viral hepatitis, anorexia, vomiting as well as nausea. The plant is a bitter carminative and a digestant that has a cooling effect on the body. It is a cardio tonic, anthelmintic and an antipyretic. A number of studies of have shown that the herb is useful for relieving spleen disorders, skin problems and hepatomegaly (http://www.alwaysayurveda.com/picrorhiza-kurroa/). The herb has become endangered due to overexploitation, therefore conservation strategies and sustainable use of this valuable herb could definitely save the natural pockets of this herb which is under tremendous pressure.

By:- Neha Tiwari Joshi
Department of Botany.
Uttaranchal (P.G.) College Of Bio-Medical Sciences & Hospital