Picrorhiza Kurroa (Hu Huang Lian)

Picrorhizae RhizomePicrorhiza Kurroa herb is better known as Hu Huang Lian in mandarin. Actually this name is shared with another similar medicinal plant – Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora. The former is usually found in the Himalayas and the latter in Tibet. These are healing herbs possessing magical curative powers, which should give the credit to their habitats – high mountain, bare rock, and bush areas at an elevation of 2500 to 5000 meters. There the cold and harsh conditions create the extraordinary vitality of these wild plants as well as their amazing efficacy. What’s more, the medicinal plants from snow-covered land not only are free from pollution but also contain some essential trace elements for the human body. Hence, these herbs just serve as a great mineral source of treasure to people who don’t live in highland areas. This partly explains why they have a magical healing effect. And full details about this amazing herb are as follows.

What is picrorhiza kurroa?

At the mention of this herb, it makes sense to first talk about Hu Huang Lian herb, which mainly refers to the dried rhizomes of Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora Pennell or Picrorhiza kurroa Royle. As you can see, this article focuses on the latter only. As a result, its other common names also include Katki, Xi Zang Hu Huang Lian, Picrorhizae Rhizome, Katuki, Rhizoma Picrorhizae, Kutki, Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora rhizome, Figwort flower Picrorhiza Rhizome, and so on. Medicinally it is usually dug during autumn. Next, it needs to remove the fibrous roots and dirt and then dry in the sun.

Picrorhiza kurroa plant is a hairy perennial herb. Rhizome is cylindrical, slightly woody, and 15 to 20cm long. Slightly leathery leaves grow close to the roots. Blade is spoon-shaped, 5 to 10cm long, and with pointed apex, base that narrows into winged sheathing petiole base, and serrate margin. Floral axis is longer than leaf. Spica is 5 to 10cm long and with a few bracts beneath. Capsules are long ovate, about 6mm long, and with few lateral grooves laterally and cracked main rooms. Seeds are oblong and about 1mm long. And it blooms in June and fruits in July.

Main chemical constituents are D-mannitol, vanillic acid, apocynin, picroside Ⅱ, kutkoside, 6-vanilloylcatalpol, veronicoside, minecoside, picein, androsin, panta-acetyl-6-vaniloyl catalplol, hex-aacetyl catalpol, cucurbitacins glycosides ingredients, and so on.

Picrorhiza kurroa benefits

Thanks to the advantaged growing conditions, the closest place to the sun seems give herbs there much favor. Of course, human being thus is blessed with many health benefits. When it comes to its medicinal uses, it should differentiate it from Huang Lian (Coptis Rhizome) as they have the similar name and functions. To be specific, both of them are of bitter cold nature and work to clear away heat and dry dampness. However, in comparison the former is good at eliminating deficient heat and heat in indigestion while the latter is specialized at clearing away the heart fire and stomach fire. And as one of common Chinese and ayurvedic herbs, it has been confirmed by related research that it has potential hepatoprotective activity thanks to the antioxidant potential. Now tons of picrorhiza kurroa products, such as supplement, extract, and capsules, have been developed for various complaints, including vitiligo, asthma, diabetes, psoriasis, and more. And more evidence about its amazing efficacy can be found in its pharmacology.

Modern pharmacological actions of picrorhizae rhizome

1. Picrorhiza kurroa rhizome extract has significant choleretic effect, which can greatly increase the excretion of the bile salt, cholic acid and deoxycholic acid and thus prevent the hepatic injury;
2. The apocynin contained can induce smooth muscle contraction but resist a variety of convulsants induced smooth muscle spasm;
3. Its water extract has different degrees of inhibition on variety of skin fungi in vitro;
4. Its picroside Ⅰ, Ⅱ, vanillic acid, and apocynin can inhibit zymosan-induced chemical reactions of PMN leukocytes and the generation of free radicals.

Proven rhizoma picrorhizae herbal remedies

Chinese Materia Medica thinks that it is bitter in flavor and cold in properties and it goes to liver, stomach, and large intestine. Vital functions include reducing deficiency-heat, clearing heat in indigestion, clearing heat and drying dampness, and purging fire for removing toxin. Essential picrorhiza kurroa uses and indications are hectic fever due to yin deficiency, tidal fever and night sweating, infantile malnutrition disease, damp-heat dysentery, jaundice, vomiting blood, epistaxis, swollen red eyes, boils and carbuncles, and hemorrhoids. Recommended picrorhiza kurroa dosage is from 6 to 12 grams in decoction, powder, or pills.

1. Qing Gu San. From Zheng Zhi Zhun Sheng (Standard of Diagnosis and Treatments), this formula is usually used for hectic fever and consumptive heat due to yin deficiency. Other basic herbal ingredients are Yin Chai Hu (Stellaria Root), Lycium Barbarum Root Bark (Di Gu Pi), and so on.

2. Fei Er Wan. From Wan Bing Hui Chun (Bring Spring Back to Myriad Diseases), this prescription is basically formulated for infantile heat in indigestion. Other primary herbs are Dang Shen (Codonopsis), Bai Zhu (Atractylodes), Shan Zha (Hawthorn Fruit), and more.

3. Hu Lian Zhui Du Wan. From Wai Ke Zheng Zong (True Lineage of External Medicine), this recipe uses this herb along with Corium Erinacei and She Xiang (Navel Gland Secretions of Musk Deer) to treat damp-fire accumulation in the large intestine, hemorrhoids, and anal fistula.

4. Hu Huang Lian Wan. From Xiao Er Yao Zheng Zhi Jue (Key to Syndrome Identification and Treatment of Diseases in Infants), it is mainly designed for infantile malnutrition heat due to disorder of digestive tract. Other herbs are Huang Lian (Coptis Rhizome) and Zhu Sha (Cinnabar).

5. San Wu San. From Su Shen Liang Fang (Best Formulas Collected by Su Shi and Shen Kuo), this formula, combining this herb with Wu Mei (Mume Fruit) and Zao Xia Tu (Terra Flava usta), is mainly used for dysentery with bloody stool.

Picrorhiza kurroa side effects and contraindications

As of the writing of this article, there are no known picrorhiza kurroa root adverse reactions and drug interactions reported. From the point of views of Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), use it with care in the case of weakness of the spleen and the stomach.

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