Kushta – Saussurea lappa – Benefits, Usage, Dose, Side Effects

Kushta or Indian costus root is a famous Ayurvedic herb used in treating gout, skin diseases, respiratory disorders etc. Its botanical name is Saussurea lappa.
Botanical Name–  Saussurea lappa C.B Clarke, Saussurea costus
Family – Asteraceae – Bhrungaraja Kula (Bhringaraja kula)

Vernacular Names

Hindi Name– Kuth,
English Name- Indian Costus root, Kuth
Telugu– Changaluva- Kosthu, Kushtam
Tamil Name- Koshtam, Goshtam, Kottam
Malayalam Name– Kottam, Seyuddi
Bengali name – Kood
Gujarati name – Kudu, Upalet
Kannada name – Koshta
Farsi name – Kust-E-Talkh
Arabic name – Kuste

Sanskrit Synonyms

Utpala – grows in moist places
Kashmira – grows in Kashmir,
Vapya – Found near water resources
paribhavya – It is effective in many disorders
Gada, Agada, Ama, Amaya, Kapalam, Kouderam, Japyam, Tvakdosa, Divya, Durnama, Padmaka, Paribhadraka, Mansanjnaka, Ramam, Ruk, Rogahva.

Classical Categorization

Sukrasodhana – group of herbs that cleanse semen, corrects sperm morphology
Lekhaniya – group of herbs that have scraping, fat reducing activity
Asthapanopaga – group of herbs used in Basti treatment.
Sushruta and Vagbhata – Eladi Gana
Bh. Pr. Ni – Haritakyadi varga


Kashmir and Alpine Himalayan ranges at 8,000- 12,000 feet


Habit- Erect, robust, perennial herb, 25 to 180 cm high.
Root-Stout, up to 60 cm long, brownish with longitudinal streaks and furrows with reticulate surface, having characteristic odor.
Leaves- Simple, alternate, membranous, glabrate beneath, irregularly toothed
 Inflorescence- Head, 2 cm long in axillary terminal clusters, bluish purple, hard, rounded, 3 to 5 cm in diameter.
Fruit- Achenes about 3 mm long, curved, compressed. Pappus is about 1.7 cm long, feathery and brown.

Major chemical constituents

Essential oil, costol, taraxas- terol, costunolide, Dehydro constuhactone, alpha- Cyclocostunolide, sitosterol, Sesquiterpenes, Ar- curcumene, isodihydrocostuslacttone, costol- lactone etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)

Medicinal qualities 

Rasa (taste) – Tikta (bitter), Katu (pungent), Madhura (sweet)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Rooksha (dryness), Teekshna (piercing, reaches deep tissues)
Vipaka – Katu Vipaka (Pungent, as per JLN Shastry)
Virya– Ushna – hot potency

Effect on Tridosha

Because of its bitter and pungent tastes, it balances Kapha and because of its sweet taste and hot potency, it balances Vata.

Part Used



Inula royleana
Cardus nutans
Euphorbia thomsoniana
Aconitum heterophyllum
Costus specious
Arctium lappa

Sanskrit verse

kushta - Saussurea lappa

Therapeutic benefits

Of all the herbs used in external application and oil massage for Vata balance, Kushta herb is the best. Hence it is the main ingredient in pain relieving oils – Kottamchukkadi taila, Narayan Oil, Bala Tel

It is used for external application in headache, toothache, osteo-arthritis, Rheumatoid arthritis and balding.
Shukrala – increases sperm count
Vatasrahara – useful in gout treatment
Visarpa – useful in herpes
Kasahara – relieves cough, cold
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Shwasahara – useful in asthma, COPD and other respiratory diseases
Hikkahara – relieves hiccups
Jwarahara – useful in fever
It is used in the treatment of epilepsy
It is hepato-protective (protects liver against degeneration)
It is a good antiviral herb
The oil extracted from Costus root is also used for anti-inflammatory and pain relieving purposes.
It helps to lower blood pressure.


Dosage– Powder 1-2 grams in divided doses per day, is the maximum safe dose for this herb.

Research articles

Efficacy in Ischemic heart disease

Side effects and precautions

Pregnant and lactating mothers should seek medical advice before taking this herb.
People with high BP should take extra precaution, as this herb can lower BP.

Interaction with medicines, supplements

Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.

Can this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets, Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.

With western medicines
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.

Use as dusting powder

Indian Costus root as dusting powder:
Charaka explained Kushta as one among Avachurnana dravya, along with herbs like Musta, Vidanga, Sarjarasa, Lodhra, Daru haridra etc. The body of the patient is smeared with sesame oil. Then the body is dusted with the above powder mix. Dusting process is called Avachurnana.
It relieves Kitibha –  ringworm, Kandu – pruritus, Pama – keloids, Vicharchika – Eczema. Reference: (Charaka Sutrasthana 5th chapter)

Use for external application

Paste prepared with costus root along with Tagara, dill seeds, Licorice, sandalwood and ghee is used to apply externally to relieve headache, shoulder and back pain. Reference: Charaka Samhita Rajayakshma Chikitsa.

Sthanika Karma (Systemic Action)

External – Anti microbial, Analgesic, improve complexion, indicated in skin disorders, prevent bad body odor. powder paste and fumigation with this medicine is indicated in chronic wounds, headache, toothache, inflammatory joints, Rheumatic joint diseases, skin diseases etc. paste is indicated for external application to impart normal skin color. Fumigation with kushta plants gives an aromatic smell to the clothes.

Nervous system – Pacifies vata dosha, Indicated in Epilepsy and in other convulsive disorders.

Digestive System – Carminative, digestant, Anti colic, Facilitate movement of vata dosha in normal direction. Indicated in improper digestion, loss of appetite, abdominal cramp, abdominal distension etc.Circulatory System – Acts as a blood purifier, indicated in Vata rakta, Ama vata etc.

Respiratory system – Helps to eliminate excess kapha dosha from the respiratory tract. It has an action on the higher centers of respiration thus helps to reduce breathing difficulty. Indicated in cough, Hiccough, Asthma etc. Herbal smoking with this is indicated in Asthma.

Reproductive system – Aphrodisiac, Indicated in Amenorrhea, Dysmenorrhea etc. Purifies breast milk and increases breast milk production.
Excretory system – Increases urine output.
Skin – stimulates sweat production, indicated in skin disorders.
Tapakrama – Jvaraghna
Satmikarana – Aphrodisiac

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