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Herbs & Botanicals

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Picrorhiza (hu huang lian)

What is picrorhiza? What is it used for?

Picrorhiza is a creeping plant native to the mountains of India, Nepal, Tibet and Pakistan. Also known as Kharbagehindi, the plant consists of long leaves and five-lobed flowers, which are pale blue or reddish-blue in color. The largest part of the plant is the rhizome, which can grow as long as 10 inches. The rhizome is used medicinally.

Picrorhiza contains a number of active ingredients, including acetophenone derivatives (which have antiasthmatic properties), iridioids and cucurbitacins (which are extremely bitter). In traditional Chinese medicine, picrorhiza has been used to treat everything from hyperemia and dysentery to jaundice, hemorrhoids, epilepsy and carbuncles. Scientific tests have found the compounds in picrorhiza to stimulate the immune system, fight bacteria and protect the liver from toxic substances.

How much picrorhiza should I take?

Most practitioners recommend 0.6-1.2 grams of dried picrorhiza root daily. Some providers also recommend 2-4 ml of a picrorhiza tincture. Picrorhiza is often used in combination with other botanicals, such as cardamon and crushed orange peels.

What forms of picrorhiza are available?

Picrorhiza is available in powder or tincture form. Some stores may sell dried picrorhiza root. It is also often found as part of larger traditional Chinese medicine formulas.

What can happen if I don't get enough picrorhiza? What can happen if I take too much? Are there any side-effects I should be aware of?

Picrorhiza is available in powder or tincture form. Some stores may sell dried picrorhiza root. It is also often found as part of larger traditional Chinese medicine formulas.

References

  • Chander R, Dwivedi Y, Rastogi R, et al. Effect of different extracts of kutaki (picrorhiza kurroa) on experimentally induced abnormalities in the liver. Indian J Med Res Feb 1990;95:34-7.
  • Chander R, Dwivedi Y, Rastogi R, et al. Evaluation of hepatoprotective activity of picroliv (from picrorhiza kurroa) in Mastomys natalensis infected with plasmodium berghei. Indian J Med Res Feb 1990;95:34-7.
  • Dorsch W, Stuppner H, Wagner H, et al. Antiasthmatic effects of picrorhiza kurroa: androsin prevents allergen- and PAF-induced bronchial obstruction in guinea pigs. Int Arch Allergy Appl Immunol 1991;95:128-33.
  • Shukla B, Visen PK, Patnaik GK, et al. Cholerectic effect of picrolic, the hepatoprotective principle of picrorhiza kurroa. Planta Med Feb 1991;95:29-33.
  • Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, Doshi JC, et al. Picrorhiza kurroa (kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent — experimental and clinical studies. J Postgrad Med Oct-Dec 1996;42:105-8.

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