PicrorhizaSkip to the navigation
Parts Used & Where Grown
The herb originated in and continues to grow primarily in the Himalayan mountains. The rhizomes or underground stems of picrorhiza are used.
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For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
This supplement has been used in connection with the following health conditions:
400 to 1,500 mg of powdered root per day
Two preliminary trials have shown picrorhiza to improve asthma symptoms.
Two preliminary trials have shown picrorhiza to be of benefit in asthma.3 , 4 However, a follow-up double-blind trial did not confirm these earlier results.5 A range of 400 to 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of trials. It remains unclear how effective picrorhiza is for people with asthma.
400 and 1,500 mg of powdered rhizome
In one trial, picrorhiza, in combination with the drug methoxsalen and sun exposure, speeded recovery in people with vitiligo.
In preliminary trial, Picrorhiza, in combination with the drug methoxsalen and sun exposure, was reported to hasten recovery in people with vitiligo compared with use of methoxsalen and sun exposure alone.6 Between 400 and 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of studies.
1,600 mg daily
A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis were reported by one group in India, showing picrorhiza, combined with a variety of minerals, to be helpful in hastening recovery.
A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis were reported by one group in India, showing picrorhiza, combined with a variety of minerals, to be helpful in hastening recovery.7 A variety of similar reports have appeared in the Indian literature over the years, although no double-blind clinical trials have yet been published. Between 400 and 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been used in a variety of trials. Andrographis, another traditional Indian herb, has shown preliminary benefit for people with chronic viral hepatitis.8
Indigestion, Heartburn, and Low Stomach Acidity
Refer to label instructions
Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions.
Bitter herbs are thought to stimulate digestive function by increasing saliva production and promoting both stomach acid and digestive enzyme production.9 As a result, they are particularly used when there is low stomach acid but not in heartburn (where too much stomach acid could initially exacerbate the situation). These herbs literally taste bitter. Some examples of bitter herbs include greater celandine, wormwood, gentian,dandelion, blessed thistle, yarrow, devil’s claw, bitter orange, bitter melon, juniper, andrographis, prickly ash, and centaury.10. Bitters are generally taken either by mixing 1–3 ml tincture into water and sipping slowly 10–30 minutes before eating, or by making tea, which is also sipped slowly before eating.
Boldo has been used in South America for a variety of digestive conditions, although this may have stemmed from its impact on intestinal infections or liver function. Studies specifically showing a benefit from taking boldo in people with indigestion and heartburn have not been performed. Picrorhiza, from India, has a similar story to that of boldo. While it is clearly a bitter digestive stimulant, human studies to confirm this have not yet been completed.
Refer to label instructions
Picrorhiza supports the immune system and protects against microbes.
Refer to label instructions
Studies conducted in India with the herb picrorhiza show a benefit for people with rheumatoid arthritis.
Preliminary studies conducted in India with the herb picrorhiza show a benefit for people with RA.11 Currently, this therapeutic effect remains weakly supported and therefore unproven.
Traditional Use (May Not Be Supported by Scientific Studies)
How It Works
How It Works
The major constituents in picrorhiza are the glycosides picroside I, kutkoside, androsin, and apocynin. They have been shown in animal studies to be antiallergic, to inhibit platelet-activating factor (an important pro-inflammatory molecule),12 and to decrease joint inflammation.13 According to test tube and animal studies, picrorhiza has antioxidant actions, particularly in the liver.14 , 15 Picroliv (a commercial mixture containing picroside I and kutkoside) has been shown to have an immunostimulating effect in hamsters, helping to prevent infections.16 Picrorhiza increases bile production in the liver, according to rat studies.17 It has also been shown to protect animals from damage by several potent liver toxins, offering protection as good as or better than silymarin (the flavonoids found in milk thistle).18 , 19 However, it does not have the amount of human research as silymarin. Picrorhiza has also shown to reduce formation of liver cancer due to chemical exposures in animal studies.20
Human studies on this plant are not prolific. A series of cases of acute viral hepatitis in India were reportedly treated successfully by a combination of picrorhiza with a variety of minerals.21 A number of similar reports have appeared in Indian literature over the years. No double-blind clinical trials have yet been published, however.
Two preliminary trials suggest that picrorhiza may improve breathing in asthma patients and reduce the severity of asthma.22 , 23 Although, a follow-up double-blind trial did not confirm these earlier trials.24
A preliminary trial conducted in India found a small benefit for people with arthritis (primarily rheumatoid arthritis).25
Picrorhiza in combination with the drug methoxsalen was found in a preliminary trial to hasten recovery in people with vitiligo faster than those receiving methoxsalen and sun exposure alone.26
How to Use It
Between 400 and 1,500 mg of powdered, encapsulated picrorhiza per day has been recommended. One author considers this equivalent to the use of 1–2 ml of fluid extract twice per day.27 Picrorhiza tastes quite bitter. Combining with ginger root powder capsules or taking as tea can improve palatability.
Interactions with Supplements, Foods, & Other Compounds
Interactions with Medicines
Certain medicines interact with this supplement.
Replenish Depleted Nutrients
Reduce Side Effects
Picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa) is an herb from India with well-established anti-inflammatory and liver protective actions.28 Use of a combination formula known as Liv.100 that contains picrorhiza protected animal livers against damage caused by isoniazid and other antituberculosis antibiotics.29The interaction is supported by preliminary, weak, fragmentary, and/or contradictory scientific evidence.
Potential Negative Interaction
Loose stools and colic have been reported when unprepared picrorhiza rhizomes are used as medicine. However, extracts in alcohol have shown much less tendency to cause such effects.30 No other adverse effects have been reported with picrorhiza. Although the use of the herb is not discouraged in India during pregnancy and breast-feeding, there is little information to determine the safety of the herb during these times.
1. Krishnamurthy A. The Wealth of India vol VIII. New Delhi, Publication and Information Directorate, Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, 1969, 49.
2. Nadkarni KM, Nadkarni AK. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1976, 953-5.
3. Rajaram D. A preliminary clinical trial of Picrorrhiza kurroa in bronchial asthma. Indian J Pharmacol 1975;7:95-6.
4. Shan BK, Kamat SR, Sheth UK. Preliminary report of use of Picrorrhiza kurroa root in bronchial asthma. J Postgrad Med 1977;23:118-20.
5. Doshi VB, Shetye VM, Mahashur AA, Kamat SR. Picrorrhiza kurroa in bronchial asthma. J Postgrad Med 1983;29:89-95.
6. Bedi KL, Zutshi U, Chopra CL, Amla V. Picrorhiza kurroa, an Ayurvedic herb, may potentiate photochemotherapy in vitiligo. J Ethnopharmacol 1989;27:347-52.
7. Chaturvedi GN, Singh RH. Jaundice of infectious hepatitis and its treatment with an indigenous drug, Picrorhiza kurrooa[sic]. J Res Ind Med 1966;1:1-13.
8. Chaturvedi GN, Tomar GS, Tiwari SK, Singh KP. Clinical studies on kalmegh (Andrographis paniculata) in infective hepatitis. J Int Inst Ayurveda 1983;2:208-11.
9. Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physician's Guide to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed, Berlin: Springer, 1998, 168-73.
10. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Austin: American Botanical Council and Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications, 1998, 425-6.
11. Langer JG, Gupta OP, Atal CK. Clinical trials on Picrorhiza kurroa. Ind J Pharmacol 1981;13:98-103 [review].
12. 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.
13. ‘t Hart BA, Simons JM, Knaan-Shanzer S, et al. Antiarthritic activity of the newly developed neutrophil oxidative burst antagonist apocynin. Free Rad Biol Med 1990;9:127-31.
14. Anandan R, Devaki T. Hepatoprotective effect of Picrorrhiza[sic] kurroa on tissue defense system in D-galactosamine-induced hepatitis in rats. Fitoterapia 1999;70:54-7.
15. Chander R, Kapoor NK, Dhawan BN. Picroliv, picroside-I and kutkoside from Picrorhiza kurroa are scavengers of superoxide anions. Biochem Pharmacol 1992;44:180-3.
16. Puri A, Saxena RP, Sumati, et al. Immunostimulant activity of Picroliv, the iridoid glycoside fraction of Picrorhiza kurroa, and its protective action against Leishmania donovani infection in hamsters. Planta Med 1992;58:528-32.
17. Shukla B, Visen PKS, Patnaik GK, Dhawan BN. Choleretic effect of Picroliv, the hepatoprotective principle of Picrorhiza kurroa. Planta Med 1991;57:29-33.
18. Floersheim GL, Bieri A, Koenig R, Pletscher A. Protection against Amantia phalloides by the iridoid glycoside mixture of Picrorhiza kurroa (kutkin). Agents Actions 1990;29:386-7.
19. Dwivedi Y, Rastogi R, Mehrotra R, et al. Picroliv protects against aflatoxin B1 acute hepatotoxicity in rats. Pharmacol Res 1993;27:189-99.
20. Jeena KJ, Joy KL, Kuttan R. Effect of Emblica officinalis, Phyllanthus amarus and Picrorrhiza[sic] kurroa on N-nitrosodiethylamine induced hepatocardinogenesis. Cancer Lett 1999;136:11-6.
21. Chaturvedi GN, Singh RH. Jaundice of infectious hepatitis and its treatment with an indigenous drug, Picrorhiza kurrooa[sic]. J Res Ind Med 1966;1:1-13.
22. Rajaram D. A preliminary clinical trial of Picrorrhiza kurroa in bronchial asthma. Indian J Pharmacol 1975;7:95-6.
23. Shan BK, Kamat SR, Sheth UK. Preliminary report of use of Picrorrhiza kurroa root in bronchial asthma. J Postgrad Med 1977;23:118-20.
24. Doshi VB, Shetye VM, Mahashur AA, Kamat SR. Picrorrhiza kurroa in bronchial asthma. J Postgrad Med 1983;29:89-95.
25. Langer JG, Gupta OP, Atal CK. Clinical trials on Picrorhiza kurroa. Ind J Pharmacol 1981;13:98-103 [review].
26. Bedi KL, Zutshi U, Chopra CL, Amla V. Picrorhiza kurroa, an Ayurvedic herb, may potentiate photochemotherapy in vitiligo. J Ethnopharmacol 1989;27:347-52.
27. Bone K. Picrorrhiza [sic]: Important modulator of immune function. Townsend Letter for Doctors 1995;May:88-94 [review].
28. Floersheim GL, Bieri A, Koenig R, Pletscher A. Protection against Amantia phalloides by the iridoid glycoside mixture of Picrorhiza kurroa (kutkin). Agents Actions 1990;29:386-7.
29. Saraswathy SD, Shyamala Devi CS. Hepatoprotective effect of Liv.100, a polyherbal formulation, on mitochondrial enzymes in anti-tubercular drug-induced liver damage in rats. J Clin Biochem Nutr 1999;26:27-34.
30. Chaturvedi GN, Singh RH. Jaundice of infectious hepatitis and its treatment with an indigenous drug, Picrorhiza kurrooa[sic]. J Res Ind Med 1966;1:1-13.
Last Review: 10-14-2014
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2015.