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Kutki: Uses, Benefits and Side effects by Dr. Rajeev Singh  

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

Introduction:   

With rising health awareness, people around the world are exploring foods with wonderful nutrients and health benefits. A millet that has gained popularity recently is Kutki. It is scientifically known as Picrorhiza kurroa Royle ex. Benth. It belongs to the family Plantaginaceae. It is mainly grown at 3000-5000 m. above sea level in the Himalayan region of India, Nepal, Pakistan, western China, Tibet and Burma.1 

Kutki is a small annual herb with a long root, creeping stems and oval leaves. The plant is harvested from October to December.1 It is known by different names in different languages and regions. Kutki in English is called hellebore, kutki in Hindi is called as tikta, kaurohini, kavi, tiktarohini, kauka, sutiktaka, and rohini, kutki in Tamil is katuka rohini, kadugurohini, and katuku rohini whereas kutki in Malayalam is katuka rohini and kaduk rohini. 2 

benefits of kutki

In our article, we have described the roots of kutki. These are bitter to taste and their extract is used for medicinal purposes. Kutki herb benefits are recorded in the Ayurveda Samhitas.1 Keep scrolling down to read about the kutki benefits and side effects! 

Did you know?

  • Kutki has been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat jaundice and other liver-related conditions. source: PubMed
  • Studies have shown that Kutki may help reduce cholesterol levels and improve lipid profile. source: NCBI
  • Kutki has been found to possess anti-diabetic properties and may help regulate blood sugar levels. source: PubMed
  • Studies have shown that Kutki extract may have antimicrobial properties and could be effective against certain bacteria and fungi. source: NCBI
  • Kutki has been traditionally used to treat respiratory conditions such as asthma and bronchitis. source: PubMed
  • Research suggests that Kutki may have neuroprotective effects and could potentially be used in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases. source: NCBI

Nutritional Value of Kutki: 

Kutki has many phytochemicals. A few of the chemical constituents of kutki are as follows:1 

  • Kutcoside 
  • Glycosides 
  • Cucurbitacins 
  • Kutkin 
  • Iridoids 
  • Phenolics 
  • Alkaloids 
  • Drosin 
  • Terpenes  
  • Apocyanins 
  • Flavonoids 
  • Aromatic acids such as cinnamic acid and vanillic acid 
  • Carbohydrate D-mannitol 

Although more research is required to understand the nutritional value of kutki, according to B & B organics, the nutritional value of kutki is as follows: 

Nutrient Amount 
Protein 9.7 gm 
Carbohydrate 60.9 gm 
Fat 5.2 gm 
Iron 9.3 mg 
Phosphorous 220 mg 
Calcium 17 mg 
Magnesium 114 mg 
Energy 329 Kcal 
Crude fibre 7.6 gm 
Ash 5.4 gm 
Thiamine 0.30 mg 
Riboflavin 0.09 mg 
Niacin 3.2 mg 

Table 1: Nutritional Chart for Kutki per 100 gms 

According to my experience, to get maximum health benefits from Kutki, you must take them in certain dosages. For example, for fatty liver, you must take Kutki root powder (2 to 3 gms) with warm water two times every day, at least for three months to see the effects. However, you must avoid self-medication and always opt for medical advice before its use.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, MD

Properties of Kutki:   

Kutki might have the following properties:1  

  • It may act as an anti-inflammatory agent. 
  • It may lower blood sugar levels.   
  • It may reduce ulcer formation.  
  • It may be an antioxidant.  
  • It may reduce fever.  
  • It may facilitate easy passing of stools (stool-softener).  
  • It may be an anti-bacterial agent. 
  • It may stop the growth of cancerous cells. 
  • It may lower high cholesterol levels. 

Potential Uses of Kutki for Overall Health:   

The existing studies show the following kutki health benefits:  

1. Potential uses of kutki for diabetes  

Blood sugar levels in diabetes are high that cause damage to the eyes, bones, heart and other organs. A study by Joy et al. in 1999 on rats showed that extracts from kutki can lower blood sugar levels. It also showed that it could reduce the damage caused by a chemical called alloxan in diabetes, which may prevent further complications of diabetes. The study proves that kutki extracts might be helpful for people with diabetes.2 However, before taking it, you should consult a doctor and understand the benefits of kutki powder for diabetes.   

2. Potential use of kutki for obesity  

Obesity is an inflammatory and metabolic disorder that occurs due to excess accumulation of fat in the body tissue that releases various inflammatory mediators that can cause cellular damage. A study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that the root extracts of kutki can reduce the levels of inflammatory mediators involved in inflammatory processes.1 Therefore, kutki might help with inflammation and inflammatory diseases, but you should always consult a doctor regarding kutki benefits.  

3. Potential uses of kutki for microbial infections 

Bacteria and fungi can enter the body and release toxins that can cause infection in the eyes, nose, skin, lungs and other body organs. A study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that the phytochemicals found in the kutki extracts could inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi in the body and may help in managing bacterial and fungal infections.1 However, it is advised not to self-medicate. You should consult the doctor regarding kutki powder benefits and seek treatment accordingly. 

4. Potential uses of kutki in cancer 

Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide. A study by Rajkumar et al. in 2011 found that kutki extracts are rich in flavonoids, phenolic acids, and antioxidants that can stimulate the cell death process in cancerous cells of the breast, liver, and prostate cancer. The study shows that kutki might help in slowing the progression of cancer.3 However, if you suspect cancer, do not self-medicate. Consult your doctor regarding the benefits of kutki and seek treatment accordingly.  

5. Potential uses of kutki for liver diseases 

The liver is a major organ that plays a vital role in the absorption of fat, synthesis of hormones and detoxification of the body. A study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that kutki benefits in liver-related issues such as jaundice, recurrent fever and viral hepatitis. Its extracts have kutkin, which protects the liver by suppressing substances that can harm liver health. The phytochemicals in kutki extracts also help in reducing the liver toxicity caused by alcohol. Although more research is required to understand the benefits of kutki for liver cirrhosis, the study shows that kutki might help manage liver diseases.1 However, you should not self-medicate with it and consult the doctor regarding kutki benefits for the liver.  

6. Potential uses of kutki for stomach ulcers 

When stomach or intestinal linings get damaged because of the acid present, it causes stomach or intestinal ulcers. A study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that kutki root extracts have a protective effect on the stomach. It can reduce ulcers caused by a medicine named Indomethacin. The extract promotes mucus formation, which protects the stomach and intestinal lining from ulcer formation. It also lowers the production of chemicals involved in ulcer formation. The study shows that kutki might help those struggling with ulcers.1 However, you should consult with a doctor instead of self-medicating.  

Other potential uses of kutki: 

Let’s see some more kutki medicinal uses:1 

  • It might help manage diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating, abdominal discomfort and burning sensations. 
  • It might help in dealing with immune dysfunction. 
  • The phytochemicals in kutki might reduce free radicals that can damage heart health. It may potentially keep the heart healthy and free from illnesses.  
  • It may lower cholesterol levels. 
  • It might help in managing asthma. 
  • Kutki leaf extracts might help in managing anaemia. 

Although with the advancement in knowledge and technology, new research methods are employed to study the health benefits of kutki, they still need to be improved, and further studies are required.   

I would suggest following the dosage of Kutki powder for its benefits for fever, high cholesterol, gastritis, and hepatitis. For fever, you must boil two gms of Kutki powder in 100 ml of water till it reduces to 1/4th of its initial quantity. Similarly, two gms of Katuki powder mixed with sugar after a meal two times a day can be beneficial in gastritis. For high cholesterol and hepatitis, Kutki powder should be mixed with Haridra powder and Bhumya Malaki, respectively.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

How to Use Kutki?   

Kutki can be used in the following ways:  

  • Kutki roots, stems, and leaves extracts can be used in the form of capsules, powder, ‘churna’,  decoction, infusions and confections to manage various ailments.1 
  • It is used as an astringent and applied on the skin in case of minor abrasions.1 
  • It can be used as an appetizer. 
  • Decoction of kutki with honey or kutki powder with sugar is used to treat jaundice in ayurveda.5 
  • Kutki is also used to make an ayurvedic formulation named ‘arogyavardinivati’ to treat liver diseases.5 
  • In ayurveda, kutki is used with various herbs to manage viral hepatitis and fatty liver.5 
  • Kutki is used to prepare ayurvedic kwath to remove Kapha and pitta dosha.5 

 
You must consult a qualified doctor before taking any herbal supplements. Do not discontinue or replace an ongoing treatment of modern medicine with an ayurvedic/herbal preparation without consulting a qualified doctor.     

Side Effects of Kutki:   

Consuming kutki formulations in healthy amounts is considered safe. However, a study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that the highest safe dose of kutki in a day is 2000mg/kg, any dose above it may have noticeable side effects.  

Although there are insufficient studies on humans to study the kutki powder side effects, it is best to consult a doctor if you notice any unusual symptoms.   

Precautions to Take with Kutki:    

A few of the important precautions that should be taken when using kutki are as follows:    

  • A study by Almeleebia et al. in 2022 showed that kutki could be stored at 50 degrees for about three months. Its properties degrade with temperatures above 50 degrees.1 
  • If you are breastfeeding, consult a doctor before taking kutki formulations.  
  • It is advised to consult a doctor before giving kutki to children and the elderly.  
  • If you have any medical condition, consult a doctor before consuming kutki.  

The important contraindications where the use of Kutki is not advised: 

  • Pregnant women should not consume kutki as it can lead to serious side effects in the mother as well as the developing baby.1 

Interactions with Other Drugs:   

There is not enough evidence on the interaction of the kutki extracts with other drugs. Further studies are required. Therefore, you must consult your doctor before consuming kutki along with your prescribed medication.   

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):   

1) What are the health benefits of kutki? 

Kutki churna benefits in constipation, skin problems, jaundice, heart problem, allergy, digestion, obesity, and breathing problems.1

2) What are the other names of kutki?  

Kutki is also known as katuka, Katuki, Kuru, Kurri, Katuko, Katukarogani, Kadu, Kutka, HuHuang Lian, Hellbore and Picrorhiza.  

3) What are the benefits of kutki powder for liver disease? 

Although more research is required to understand the benefits of kutki for fatty liver, there are many kutki uses in ayurveda for managing liver diseases. Kutki benefits in managing viral hepatitis, recurrent fever, and alcohol-induced fatty liver. 

4) What precautions should be taken while consuming kutki formulations? 

 Kutki formulations should be stored at 50 degrees for three months.1 Additionally, it should not be consumed during pregnancy.1 It is advised that children, the elderly and breastfeeding mothers should consult a doctor regarding kutki side effects before consuming it.  

5) What are the contraindications of kutki powder?   

Kutki powder should not be consumed by pregnant women. It can cause serious side effects in the mother as well as the unborn baby. So, it is best avoided in any form.

Disclaimer: The information included on this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation. 

References:  

  1. Almeleebia TM, Alsayari A, Wahab S. Pharmacological and clinical efficacy of picrorhiza kurroa and its secondary metabolites: A comprehensive review [Internet]. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland). U.S. National Library of Medicine; 2022 [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9738980/  
  1. Kumari I, Kaurav H, Chaudhary G. Ethnobotanical Significance of Picrorhiza Kurroa (Kutki), a Threatened Species. International Journal of Research and Review. 2021 Apr 24;8(4):363–75. Available from: https://www.ijrrjournal.com/IJRR_Vol.8_Issue.4_April2021/IJRR043.pdf   
  1. R; JKLK. Anti-diabetic activity of Picrorrhiza Kurroa extract [Internet]. Journal of ethnopharmacology. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10619377/  
  1. RA; RVGGK. Antioxidant and anti-neoplastic activities of Picrorhiza Kurroa extracts [Internet]. Food and chemical toxicology: an international journal published for the British Industrial Biological Research Association. U.S. National Library of Medicine; [cited 2022Dec22]. Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21081148/   
  1. Patel Minesh (2021). “A Review on Ayurvedic Formulation (Kwath) for Treating Liver Disorder [Future Clinical Benefits]”. J Pharmacy and Drug Innovations, 3(1); DOI: http;//doi.org/03.2020/1.1035. Available From: https://aditum.org/images/article/1645509990Pharmacy_and_Drug_Innovations_Galley_Proof.pdf 
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