Kutki- picrorhiza kurroa Benefits, Dose, Side Effects, Research

Kutki – Picrorhiza kurrPicrorhiza kurroa is a bitter root of a perennial herb with presence of rhizomes, used in treating mainly chronic fever, skin disorders and diabetes. It is also used in purgation (Virechana Panchakarma) procedure
In Ayurveda, it is also well known as Katuki or Katukarohini. In English it is recognized by the name Picrorrhiza, Hellebore, Yellow gentian etc. 
Katuki is known to be a cooling agent possessing the ability to pacify pitta and kapha dosha, without disturbing the digestive fire.

Botanical Name: Pichrohiza Kurroa Royle ex. Benth
Family- SCROPHULARACEAE (Tikta Kula)

Medicinal qualities

Kutki medicinal qualities: 
Rasa (Taste) – Tikta (Bitter)
Vipaka – taste conversion after digestion- Katu (pungent)
Guna (qualities)-Ruksa, Laghu (light to digest)
Veerya- Sheeta (cold potency)
Effect on Tridosha – Balances Kapha and Pitta

Part used, dosage

Part used- Root, Underground stem (Rhizome & Roots)
Dosage- Powder 0.5-1 g (therapeutic) and 3-6 g (purgative)


Katuki contains various important phytochemicals like iridoids, cucurbitacins and acetophenones. The iridoid glycosides compound contain picroside I and II, as their bioactive components.

The other principles are pikuroside, phenol glycosides, veronicosides, 4-hydroxy-3-methoxy acetophenone picein, androsin, drosin, monocyclic phenolic compounds like apocyanin, mannitol, cinnamic acid, ferulic acid and vanilic acid.

In  India Katuki is found in Himalayan  regions like from Garwal to Bhutan and Kashmir to Sikkim;Other habitats are  Pakistan, Tibet, west of China and north Burman regions.

Scientists have found its potent anti-diabetic,anti asthmatic,anti inflammatory,hepatoprotective and immuno-modulatory  activities.

According to Ayurveda it acts as a very good carminative, bitter tonic, liver stimulant, laxative, blood purifier, stomachic, cholagogue (promotes the flow of bile from the gall bladder into the duodenum), anti-viral, anti-pyretic wormicide etc.

Usually it is believed to be drug of choice in the trteatment of jaundice.
Arogyavardhani is a well known combination containing significant amount of Katukarohini.

Sanskrit verses

Kutki benefits

Traditional Uses

Asrajit – being coolant, useful in bleeding disorders such as menorrhagia, nasal bleeding etc.
Dahajit – relieves burning sensation (as in case of diabetic neuropathy)
Arochaka – useful in anorexia
Vishamajvara – useful in chronic recurrent fever
Bhedani, Rechani – piercing, causes purgation / diarrhea
Deepani – improves digestion and metabolism
Hrudya – good for heart
Kapha Pitta Jwarapaha – useful in fever of Kapha and Pitta origin.
Prameha – useful in urinary tract disorders, diabetes
Shvasa – useful in asthma, dyspnoea,
Kasa – useful in cough, cold,
Kushtahara – useful in skin disorders
Orally, it is used in the treatment of Vitiligo, jaundice, hepatitis and rheumatoid arthritis.
It acts as a potent liver stimulant. In higher doses, it acts as purgative.
It is very useful in relieving intestinal worm infestation
It is useful in weight loss treatment.
Useful in restoration of liver functions after alcohol toxicity.

The katuki is cold in potency and has a pungent vipaaka [post digestive taste]. It possesses dryness and lightness as its attributes.
By the virtue of the presence of bitterness taste, pungent vipaka, dryness; lightness attributes and cold potency, the katuki aggravates vata dosha.
The combination of bitter taste and cold potency of katuki enacts mitigation of aggravated pitta dosha, when given in prescribed format of lower or moderate dosage.
When administered in a high format of dosage the katuki instead of mitigating the pitta, expels the pitta dosha from the body through purgation.
By the combination of bitter taste, pungent vipaka, dryness; lightness attributes, katuki helps in mitigating the kapha dosha too.
To sum up, katuki has vata aggravating and pitta, kapha pacifying pharmacological properties.

Katuki is very useful in controlling high blood sugar level, normalizing Liver enzyme levels and high cholesterol.
It has wide applications in many diseases such as obesity, gall stones, PCOD, uterine fibroid, hypothyroidism, asthma, chronic respiratory disorders etc.

Kutki in Asthma – In respiratory system disorders, Kutki has a very high significance. Ayurveda says, “Tamake Tu Virechanam” – In case of asthma, Virechana treatment is best. For daily Virechana (purgation treatment) in asthma and bronchitis, Kutki – 1-3 grams, once or two times a day is advised along with honey or any such suitable co drink.

Kutki - Picrorhiza kurroa dry root

Home remedies

Few important home remedies of Katukarohini are explained below by Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD.

Constipation, fatty liver

1. Katukarohini rhizome powder in constipation and fatty liver:
Katuki is made into fine powder and  stored in closed containers.This is administeredwith suitable vehicle (anupana) like warm water, honey, ghee, sugar candy, butter milk, whey water etc.

It has potent effect in managing constipation,liver disorders,especially fatty liver etc.Dose may be fixed as per ones constitution and usually it is administered in the dosage of 125 mg-250 mg in children and 500 mg-2 gram in adults.
Read related: Fatty Liver: Symptoms, Ayurvedic Treatment, Remedies, Tips

Upper respiratory tract infections

2. Root powder with honey in upper respiratory tract infections in children:
Root powder is mixed with honey and given to lick in children.This is administered 4-5 timers a day.This pacifies URTI very effectively in children.


3. Katuki decoction added with honey or jaggery in fever:
20-30 ml decoction or hot infusion of Katuki is administered in fever, eosinophilia and cold.Honey or jaggery can be used as adjuvants here.

4. Katuki and neem decoction in fever:
Equal amount of katuki and nimba are taken and decoction is made.This acts very effectively in chronic recurrent fever,especially in fever, Pyrexia of unknown origin.

Type II DM and cholesterol

5. Katuki and turmeric powder in Type II DM and blood cholesterol:
A combination of equal amount of Katuki and turmeric powder (500 mg-1 gram)  is found to be effective in the treatment of Type II DM and in cholesterol.
Read related: How Turmeric Helps in Diabetes Treatment: 7 Ways

Click to consult Dr MS Krishnamurthy MD (Ayu), PhD

Vomiting and hiccups

(watch on youtube here)
what you need?
Katuki powder (Kutki powder) – 1 gram
Honey – 1 teaspoon

How to make?
Mix 1/2 – 1 gram of Katuki powder in a teaspoon of honey.

Nausea (vomiting sensation)

Dose: Half to one gram of Katuki powder along with a teaspoon of honey, once or twice a day.
How long to take? It can be taken for a period of 3 – 5 days.

Shelf life (expiration date)

Katuki powder can be stored for a period of 3 – 6 months in an air tight container
How does it work?
Katuki promotes natural peristalsis.
It is also found to be very useful in hyper-acidity, gastric and duodenal ulcers in controlled doses (research)
It has hepato-protective action. It protects liver(research). Hence useful in vomiting associated with jaundice.

Safe for kids?
In a dose of 250 – 500 mg, Katuki can be administered to children, under the supervision of doctor.
Pregnancy and lactation?
Not enough data for its usage in pregnancy. Usually safe during lactation in lower doses.

Very high doses may induce vomiting and diarrhoea.
How to tackle side effects?
By having half a cup of milk and by consulting a doctor immediately.


Watch this remedy on youtube here

Home Remedy For Fever – what you need?
(Katuki – Picrorhiza kurroa) – fine powder – 1 gram
Sita – unrefined sugar / sugar candy – 3 grams

It is a useful home remedy / adjuvant remedy of fever of Pitta and Kapha imbalances.
It is useful in fevers due to viral infections.
It helps to relieve headache, heaviness and burning sensation, associated with fever.

Half to one gram of Kutki (katuki) powder is administered along with 2 – 3 grams of sugar candy once or twice a day, 10 minutes before food.
In some places, Kutki capsule is available, one capsule can be taken along with sugar candy, twice a day, 10 minutes before food.

How long to take?
It can be taken for a period of 1 – 2 weeks.

Shelf life (expiration date)?
If it is capsule, it can be stored for a period of one year.
If it is powder, it can be stored for a period of 3 – 6 months.

How does it work?
Kutki is a powerful antiviral and antibacterial herb (research)
It also has hepato-protective activity. Hence, useful in Pitta imbalances.
It is also found to be very useful in hyper-acidity, gastric and duodenal ulcers in controlled doses (research)

Safe for kids?
In a dose of 250 – 500 mg / day, Katuki can be administered to children, under the supervision of doctor.
Pregnancy and lactation?
Not enough data for its usage in pregnancy. Usually safe during lactation in lower doses.

Side effects:
Very high doses may induce vomiting and diarrhoea.
How to tackle side effects?
By having half a cup of milk and by consulting a doctor immediately.


In vitro anti-bacterial activity


The Ayurveda pharmacodynamic of KaTuki:
In conditions of pitta inflicting the rasa dhatu and blood – the katuki by the virtue of its bitter taste and coolant qualities, it pacifies the pitta. Simultaneously, it does prasaadana [toning and nourishing] of those dhatus too.  The breast milk which is the upadhatu of rasa too gets influenced by the purification effect of the katuki upon it.

In constipated bowels, the katukii helps in splitting / breaking up [puriisham bhittvaa] the hardened fecal matters accumulated within the colon and help in getting expelled further downward. The pungent vipaka of the katukii is the reason for the splitting up of the malas which gets enacted by the aggravating vata.
As explained above, the vata aggravating within the colons is further helpful in conditions of kaphasamshlishta srotas, where in it splits / breaks up the kapha and pitta doshas adhering within the mucosal surfaces of colon, and there by helps the body in getting eliminated through the process of defecation.

A very lower dosage of katuki when prescribed augments the digestive agni; cleanses the blocked srotases within the structure of heart and expels the accumulated doshas from the system. Having thus cleared the obstruction within the srotas, katuki thus helps the rasa dhatu to freely circulate within the channels of the heart and thus the heart gets nourished in its entirety.

In conditions of jvara by the virtue of the tikta rasa, the katuki helps in the digestion of aama and mitigation of the pitta and kapha doshas. It further addresses the constipation in a subject suffering from fever by its bhedana effect.
A paste of katuki should be heated in an earthen pot for a while, and later the liquid be extracted from that paste by squeezing it. [This procedure is helpful in getting the swarasa from the dried roots of katuki]. When the above swarasa is given mixed along with ghee, the combination helps in mitigating the burning sensation experienced in subjects suffering from fever of kapha pitta origin.

The katuki is equally helpful in patients suffering from kaphaja type of cough and dyspnoea. By the virtue of clearing the dosha sanghata [accumulation of the doshas] through its bhedana and adhomaargaharana ability the katuki, helps in the chest getting decongested from the accumulated kapha dosha and thus ensues the patency of the srotases within the pranavaha pathway.
In obstructive jaundice the katuki clears the kapha and pitta obstructing the passage of duct by its bhedana action. It is equally a good choice in ascites of liver origin too. In ascites of the origin or either kapha or pitta or in cases of sarvaanga sopha kvaatha – katuki with a higher format of dosage is indicated, to induce purgation. By the purgative action, the accumulated kapha and [or] pitta gets expelled from the system eventually reducing the volume of accumulated fluid within the peritoneum.

The bitter taste of the katuki has an edge over the excessive moisture content over any pathological area, due to its prurificatory effect. Hence, it is used in ulcers of the skin which exhibits excessive moisture where in katuki dries up the moisture and helps in quicker rate of healing the ulcer.

The breast milk when vitiated by kapha or pitta, the bitter and pungent taste of katuki helps in mitigating those aggravated doshas by its purificatory effect.

Numerous animal studies demonstrated the active constituents of Picrorrhiza kurroa effective in preventing liver toxicity and improve hepatic glycogen preservation. It is effective in hepatitis B infection and promising effect on bilirubin, SGOT, SGPT. It has also cytotoxic activities against human breast, liver and prostate carcinoma cell line. It also promotes liver regenerating activities by restoring cytochrome. [Girish C et.al Hepatoprotective activities of picroliv, curcumin, and ellagic acid compared to silymarin on carbon-tetrachloride-induced liver toxicity in mice, Rajkumar v et.al, – Antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of Picrorhizakurroa extracts.]

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurveda medicines with Kutki ingredient:
Arogya Vardhini Vati – tablet, used in treating liver disorders, skin diseases and fever
Sarivadyasava – Fermented liquid medicine, used in treating gout, diabetes, skin disorders.
Mahatiktaka Ghrita – Herbal ghee medicine used in skin diseases
Patoladi Choornam – used in digestive disorders, cardiac disorders
Mahayograj Guggul – used mainly in joint and skin disorders.

Arogyavardhani, Patolakaturohinyadi kashaya, Katukarohinyadi kashayam, Phala ghrita, Sudarshana churna, Maha Sudarshan Ghanavati, Vachadi taila etc are the few formulations possessing Katukarohini with wide application and utility.

Side effects

Kutki side effects
Because of its purgative action in higher doses, it should be very carefully used.
It worsens diarrhea.
It can be used in very low dose in children.
It is avoided or used under strict medical supervision during pregnancy. Safer in lactation period.

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 of the 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.

Pentacare Katuki Churna – Manufactured by Pentacare Pharma
Patanjali Divya Kutki Churna – Manufactured by Patanjali Ayurved Limited.

Distribution, Varieties

There are two varieties described in the nighantu work viz. Katuka rohini (P. Kurroa) and Ashoka rohini (E. Paniculata).

The Kutki / Picrorrhiza kurroa tree is found in the Himalayan region from Kashmir to Sikkim at an elevation of 2700-4500m and in Nepal, found abundantly between 3500 and 4800 m. It is found far away from the community and takes from hours to days to walk to its growing habitat.

Chemical constituents

Pircorhiza kurroa chemical constituents
D-Mannitol, Kutkiol, Kutkisterol,Apocyanin: phenol glucosides; androsim and picein iridoid glycosides; Kutkin, picroside I, ii & iii; Kutkoside, Minecoside, Picrorhizin,arvenin iii etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Phyto-chemistry study reveals the chemical composition of Picrorhiza kurroa to include Kutkin, a bitter glycoside which contains two C-9 iridoid glycosides-Picroside I and Kutakoside.

Vernacular Names

Hindi Name- Kutki, Katuka
Telugu Name- Katuka Rohini
Bengali Name- Katuki, Katki
Tamil Name- Katukarogini, Kadugurohini,
Malayalam name – Kadugurohini
English Name- Picrorrhiza, Hellebore, Yellow gentian, Picroliv
Punjabi Name- Kaundd, Kaud
Marathi Name- Kali Katuki, Bala Kadu
Gujarati Name- Kadu
Arab and Farsi name – Kharabake

Sanskrit Synonyms

Katuka, Tikta (bitter in taste), Katu rohini, Shakuladani
Kandaruha, Matsya Shakala (Stem bark resembles skin of fish),
Chakrangi (has circular designs)
Krushnabheda (when broken, the root looks dark inside),
Shataparva (multi branched),
Ashoka, Katumbhara, Katvi

Classical Categorization

Bhedaniya – group of herbs that are piercing and cause purgation,
Lekhaniya – group of herbs that are scraping and cause weight loss,
Stanyasodhana – group of herbs that cleanses breast milk,
Tikta skandha – bitter tasting group of herbs
Susruta- Patoladi, Pippalyadi, Mustadi
Vagbhata- Patolyadi, Mustadi(A.H) Pippalyadi(A.S)

36 thoughts on “Kutki- picrorhiza kurroa Benefits, Dose, Side Effects, Research”

  1. Wil this herbal katuki tablet is being used for dissolving galblodder stones or not.I have started using this katuki tablet since 3 days as per ayur doctor advise. I have 11mm stone in my gal blodder asper abdoman scanning.pl. advise.

    • Dear sir, Because of its purgative action in higher doses, it should be very carefully used.
      It worsens diarrhea.
      It can be used in very low dose in children.
      It is avoided or used under strict medical supervision during pregnancy. Safer in lactation period

  2. Please tell me sir ihave given kutiki with Honey to my two years child and she is going continue lavatory every five minutes . is there any critical side effect. please guide me sir what should i do

    • Hello sir, Would advise you to stop it right away. Please do avoid over the counter medication when it comes to a kid especially. It is avoided or used under strict medical supervision.

  3. I have been taking 1/2 teaspoon kutki twice daily for 6 months for stage IV colorectal cancer that has spread to the liver. I have had no side effects from the herb and am wondering if I should up the dose. If so, how much do you recommend?

  4. Whether kutki has some concrete role in management of type II diabetes? I have been advised to add Kutki and dried neem leaves to a multi herbal powder for diabetes.

  5. sir. i learnt that it has good results upon. liver ….. and spleen. enlargement and more effective when used with chirata……lowers. sugar levels….. cholesterol…. for a non diabetic patient will this have adverse effect while controlling . .sugar levels.

  6. I have GERD Reflux problem. I get soft motions. I’ve been suggested Kutki powder with small quantity to start with. Is it ok to take it without water, inbetween food?

  7. I have some blockage in the Artery coming from the Aorta to the Kidney,closer to the Kidney.
    Which is causing really High Bllod Pressure.
    Will Kutki help to clear Artery?

  8. I want your advise to how to take(Method of taking and dosage) Kataka Rohini for 1.fatty liver, 2. Dewarming, 3 In case Constipation.

  9. IIhave pigmentation on my face and I do not go out a lot in the sun so was told it could be due to the liver. I was told to suck on a 3 to 4 cms piece of Kutki daily in the morning and night and eat that piece up for a clear complexion. Will that help?

  10. How to consume ? 1 . Before food or after food ?
    2. Or is it consumed in empty stomach in the morning ?
    3. How much mg for normal consumption ?


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