Picrorrhiza kurroa, commonly referred to as Picrorrhiza, is a small, perennial herb. Its classification exists within the Scrophulariaceae family of plants. [1] Picrorrhiza is native to the alpine Himalayas, growing at elevations from 3000 - 5000 feet. The root and rhizome of the plant has been used for centuries by those living in regions of Southwest Asia. It also has documented use in ancient Ayurvedic medicine - the traditional system of medicine in India. Unfortunately, over-harvesting has led to the threatened, and near extinct, status of this important plant species. [2]

The main constituents in Picrorrhiza are; iridoid glycosides (picrosides and kutkoside), cucurbitacin glycosides, apocynin, and drosin. [1] The principal component for which preparations are often standardized to contain is kutkin, which is made up of the iridoid and cucurbitacin glycosides. [2] Picrorrhiza is considered as a trophorestorative herb for the liver, as well as a potent immune stimulant.

Pharmacologic activity of Picrorrhiza includes anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immunomodulatory effects. In study, Picrorrhiza has demonstrated the ability to inhibit platelet aggregation as well. Animal studies suggest that an ethanol extraction of Picrorrhiza can protect against hepatic oxidation, demonstrating its potent anti-oxidant effect. The purported anti-inflammatory effects appear to be due to increased sensitivity of B-adrenergic receptors and functional impairment of pro-inflammatory cells such as neutrophils, macrophages and mast cells. [3]

Picrorrhiza can also positively affect immune system function by influencing neutrophil activity through reduction of oxidative burst; without affecting chemotaxis, phagocytosis, and intracellular bacteriocidal activity. [4] It may also enhance T-cell, B-cell, and phagocytic function. [5] These particular actions are thought to be caused by the constituent, apocynin. Apocynin is also responsible for anti-platelet activity as it can inhibit thromboxane synthetase and platelet-activating factor, thus inhibiting arachidonic acid-induced platelet aggregation. [4]

Current medicinal actions ascribed to Picrorrhiza include;

  • hepatoprotective
  • choleretic
  • anti-asthmatic
  • anti-inflammatory
  • immunostimulatory

Traditionally, Picrorrhiza was used as a laxative, choleretic, galactagogue, bitter tonic, febrifuge, and for the treatment of asthma and poisonous bites and stings.

Products Containing Picrorhiza
Name Price Rating Serving Price # of Servings Manufacturer Health Condition
Callumae $45.95
$1.53 30 Progressive Health Vitiligo


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