Viral Hepatitis and Picrorhiza
Picrorhiza kurroa, also known as picrorhiza and by many local names such as kutaki, is an Ayurvedic herb. It has shown some potential for speeding recovery from acute hepatitis.
Like all plants, picrorhiza contains a variety of active chemicals, including picroside I, kutkoside, androsin, and apocynin. The herb may help speed recovery from acute hepatitis infections.
In a double-blind trial of 33 people with acute viral hepatitis, use of Picrorhiza kurroa at a dose of 375 mg three times daily significantly reduced signs of liver damage and improved recovery time as compared to placebo.48
A typical recommended dose of powdered picrorhiza ranges from 400 mg to 1,500 mg daily, or an equivalent amount in extract form. In the study cited here, the dose of picrorhiza was 375 mg three times daily.
Ayurvedic practitioners support their patients with a combination of herbs, lifestyle modifications (including diet), and a variety of other methods. In the United States, there is no widely accepted licensure for the practice of Ayurvedic medicine. Graduates of schools such as the following are generally regarded as well-qualified: The Ayurvedic Institute, California College of Ayurveda, and the American Institute of Vedic Studies.
Based on its long history of traditional use, picrorhiza appears to be relatively safe. However, systematic, scientifically modern safety studies of picrorhiza are lacking.
Many herbs and other treatments considered safe based on traditional use have later turned out to present severe, previously unrecognized risks. Herbalists would be expected to notice immediate, dramatic reactions to herbal formulas, and one can assume with some confidence that treatments used for thousands of years are at least unlikely to cause such problems in very many people who take them. However, certain types of harm could be expected to easily elude the detection of traditional herbalists. These include safety problems that are delayed, occur relatively rarely, or are difficult to detect without scientific instruments.
Due to the lack of comprehensive safety evaluation, we strongly recommend against use of picrorhiza by pregnant or nursing women, young children, or people with severe liver or kidney disease.
- Vaidya AB, Antarkar DS, Doshi JC, et al. Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutaki) Royle ex Benth as a hepatoprotective agent—experimental & clinical studies. J Postgrad Med. 1996;42:105-108.