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Kuth: Health Benefits, Uses, Dosage and Side Effects

By NS Desk | Herbs | Posted on :   21-Dec-2020

Kuth (Saussurea costus) is a herb that typically grows to a height of 1-2m and is roughly 1m wide. The plant roots are the most useful part of the herb and are small in size with an average length of 16m. It is supposed to have a strong bitter taste and a very different exquisite scent that makes it suitable for perfumes and fragrances. It grows at the height of 8200 to 9800 ft in India, usually in Kashmir, Western Ghats, and Jammu. It bears flowers from July to August, and the seeds usually ripen from August to September. Rishis from ancient India were believed to consume this plant. The oils extracted from the roots have been used in perfumes and traditional medicines.
 
Kuth is easily available in India in Amritsar, Calcutta, Mumbai, Haridwar, and Delhi. It is a medicinal plant harvested and grown in Kashmir and is gradually losing its habitat due to the construction of roads and military bases around the cultivation area.
 
Kuth has anti-inflammatory properties due to which is used to reduce abdominal pain and inflammation associated with dysentery. It has antimicrobial and antibacterial properties, and due to this, it helps improve digestion as it prevents the growth of bacteria in the large intestine. Kuth is a highly useful plant and is used in a variety of medical treatments.
 
Kuth powder removes the sputum from the air passage and manages asthma due to its expectorant activity, which helps ease breathing. It lowers the total cholesterol levels in the human body due to its antioxidant property, thus managing cholesterol levels.
 
According to Ayurveda, when Kuth oil is mixed with coconut oil, it has been useful in managing joint and bone pain. It has a strong healing activity and has been proved helpful in helping skin associated infections and scars.
 
How did the 'Kuth' word originate?
Kuth is a native spice of India, and it derives its name from Sanskrit. Kuth comes from Kuṣṭha (कुष्ठ) in Sanskrit it refers to a disease called "leprosy" and other similar skin diseases. In the English language, this plant is also known as "costus." It is used under the name of Caraka-Samhita throughout Ayurvedic literature.
 
Historical uses of Kuth
Kuth was used in ancient Rome to flavor the wine and also as a spice. In medieval England, it was used as an ingredient in green sauce. 
 
In ancient India, it has been mentioned in Atharveda and is referred to as an ancient Vedic plant god. It is also mentioned as a remedy for a disease that deals with a very high fever known as takman. It was supposed to be derived from a heavenly plant growing in the Himalayas. It has been used to strengthen and normalize digestion, enhance fertility, and reduce pain. The fried powder of Kuth is the main ingredient in ulcer ointments.
 
Kuth was also used to lower blood pressure because it used to narrow the airways due to the presence of chemicals present in Kuth oil. It also seems to kill worms(nematodes).
 
Benefits of using Kutaj in Ayurvedic treatment
Many studies conducted till now have shown the beneficial effects of Kuth in several ways. There aren't any studies that have been conducted on humans, but they assumedly have no effects on Humans. The Ayurvedic medicinal herb, however, mostly does not have any effect on Humans whatsoever.
 
Chemical constituents of Kuth
● Volatile oil: 1.5-2.5% 
● Fundamental oil viz. terpenes, aplotaxenne, and sesquiterpenes, and others are likewise present in it.
● Oil, potassium, nitrate, sugar, and tannin, and so forth, present in it.
● Insulin: 18% 
● Saussurine (an alkaloid): .05% 
● Gums: 6% 
● It likewise contains a fluid called Kushtin and Valerie, corrosive and manganese.
 
Treating diseases/health problems using Kuth 
 
● Indigestion

Science

Ayurveda

Kuth has anthelmintic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties, due to which it is highly useful in managing indigestion. It provides a great amount of relief from indigestion by preventing bacteria's growth in the large intestine. Kuth also suppresses the activity of parasites in the body.

Digestive fire is improved by Kuth hence managing indigestion caused as a result of it. Indigestion is the state of incomplete digestion, according to Ayurveda. Indigestion is caused due to an irritated state of Kapha, which is the cause of Agnimandya (weak digestive fire). Kuth powder improves Agni(digestive fire) and helps digest the food easily. Kuth also has Deepan (appetizer) and pachan (digestive) properties that assist in doing the same.

 
● Gas formation

Science

Ayurveda

There aren't enough experiments conducted and shreds of evidence to prove that Kuth plays a role in helping rectify diarrhea.

Vata and Pitta dosha is responsible for flatulence, and Kuth is useful in getting relief from that, according to Ayurveda. Irritated Vata dosha and low pitta dosha result in low digestive fire, thus affecting digestion. Improper digestion leads to the formation of gas. Because of Kuth's Deepan and Pachan properties, it is proved helpful in improving the digestive fire, helping digestion.

 
● Asthma

Science

Ayurveda

Kuth has anti-asthmatic properties, and that helps in the treatment of Asthma. The roots of the Kuth plant act as a muscle relaxant and expectorant. It clears the blockage of air passage, which helps in easy breathing.

The doshas responsible for Asthma are Kapha and Vata, according to Ayurveda. The deranged 'Vata' and 'Kapha' dosha causes a hindrance in the respiratory passage due to its presence in the lungs. The condition of Asthma in Ayurveda is called Swas Roga.

 
● Cough

Science

Ayurveda

Kuth manages cough due to its antispasmodic property. The roots of Kuth remove mucus and clear the respiratory passages by acting as an expectorant.

Cough is caused by the accumulation of mucus in the respiratory tract and is also known as the Kapha disorder in Ayurveda. Kuth balances the Kapha in the body and expels out the mucus that is accumulated in our lungs.

 
● Dysentery

Science

Ayurveda

The root stalks and roots of Kuth have antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties that help in rectifying dysentery. Kuth helps in preventing the growth of bacteria related organisms in the large intestine. The inflammation and abdominal pain associated with dysentery are reduced due to Kuth.

Dysentery is caused by deranged Vata and Kapha doshas and is also known as Pravahika in Ayurveda. Kth powder has a Kapha and Vata balancing nature, and thus it helps in controlling dysentery. Kuth powder, because of its Deepan and Pachan properties, also improves digestion and corrects the digestive fire.

 
● Headache

Science

Ayurveda

The roots of Kuth have healing properties that tend to calm down the throbbing in the head. It extracts this healing property from its fragrant oil and affects the nerves by calming them down hence helping in headache.

According to Ayurveda, headache is caused due to deranged Vata, and Kuth oil helps rectify the Vata imbalance, hence helping to get effectively rid of the headache.

 
Forms of Kuth in Ayurveda and Recommended Dosage 
Kuth in the Ayurvedic treatment is used in powder and capsule form. Each of these forms of Kuth can create different types of herbal tonics or tea or milkshake with a prescribed dosage amount.
If you have not consulted with your doctor regarding the dosage amount for each Kutaj form, you can then follow these dosage recommendations:
 
● Kuth Powder: 4-8 pinches of powder (churan) twice a day mixed with honey, preferably after lunch and dinner.
● Kuth Oil: 4-8 drops of Kuth oil mixed with coconut oil applied to the affected area once a day.
In case you have consulted with a doctor, it is advised to stick to their recommended prescriptions.
 
Types of Ayurvedic Care of Kuth
 
● Kuth Powder
Pinches of Kuth powder mixed with honey can be consumed twice a day to get the desired result. If a particular dose is recommended, it is advisable to stick to that.
 
● Kuth Oil
4-8 drops of Kuth oil mixed with 1-2 teaspoons of coconut oil can heal the wound, for joint pain and headache If applied once or twice a day.
 
Side effects of Kuth
In certain cases, high and unmonitored intake of Kuth tends to cause acidity. It can also cause dermatitis and similar allergic reactions due to its hot potency. Kuth is found to have certain chemical constituents that trigger allergic reactions, such as dermatitis. People who are allergic to ragweed can also be allergic to Kuth. Kuth also leads to skin peeling and tooth staining.
 
Precautionary guide while using Kuth?
 
● Patients with diabetes
It is recommended that a patient with diabetes should consult their doctor first before consuming Kuth in any form if they are already taking anti-diabetic drugs.
 
● Patients with Heart disease
It is recommended that a patient with heart disease should consult their doctor first before consuming Kuth in any form.
 
● Breastfeeding women
It is recommended that breastfeeding women should consult their doctor first before consuming Kuth in any form.
 
● Pregnancy
It is recommended that pregnant women should consult their doctor first before consuming Kuth in any form.
 
● Patients with Kidney diseases
Since it is found to have some constituents that can agitate the kidney if used over a long period. It is advisable to consult the doctor before consuming Kuth.
 
FAQs about Kuth
 
1) Can Kuth come into use as an insect repellant?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Yes, Kuth has antifeedant properties, and thus it can be used as an insect repellant. It stops the feeding by insects and pests.
 
2) How should Kuth seeds be stored?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: The seeds of Kuth seeds should be stored at low temperature[16].
 
3) Can perfumes be made out of Kuth?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth oil has been used as an ingredient in certain perfumes because it has a strong odor; hence it can be used.
 
4) Is there an antiulcer activity depicted by Kuth?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has antiulcerogenic activity, due to which it is highly suitable as a remedy for ulcers. It stops the secretion of gastric acid in the stomach. It also promotes the production of mucus. Because of all these properties, Kuth can protect the stomach against toxic agents and protect the stomach lining.
 
5) Is Kuth beneficial in preventing Cancer?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has anti-inflammatory and strong antioxidants properties. The growth of cancer cells is prevented, and Kuth has strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It prevents the growth of cancer cells, eventually eliminating them from the body.
 
6) Does Kuth treat muscle spasms?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW:  Kuth has been proven to treat stomach spasms due to its spasmolytic activity positively. It does so by relaxing the stomach muscles and the intestines and reducing muscle contraction, thus preventing spasms.
 
7) Is Kuth utilized for the rectification of Diarrhea?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has anti-diarrheal properties, and hence it helps manage diarrhea due to the same reason. It prevents the growth of the disease-causing organism in the large intestine because of Its antimicrobial property.
 
8) Does Kuth help in maintaining cholesterol levels?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which helps in maintaining cholesterol level. This helps in lowering the levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol, and bad cholesterol.
 
9) Does Kuth help rectify sleeplessness?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has CNS depressant property, which helps rectify sleeplessness. It reduces the body's temperature, increases sleeping time, and reduces the body's temperature, thus making the body feel at peace and calm.
 
10) Can Kuth powder result in acidity?
AYURVEDIC VIEW: Kuth powder generally does not result in acidity because it is proven to improve digestion. It can aggravate acidity if someone already has a history because of its Ushna(hot) nature.
 
11) Can Kuth be used as an insecticide?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has antimicrobial properties, and its powdered root is used as an insecticide as it is sprinkled over the crops.
 
12) Does Kuth help in wound healing?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth has high healing properties and shows wound healing activity due to this property. The constituents help in wound contraction and closure. Collagen is formed, and new cells' formation also takes place faster due to Kuth's healing property.
 
Kuth reduces the risk of wound infection because it has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
 
13) Can Kuth cause severe reactions on the skin?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Certain constituents that are present in Kuth slow down the skin reactions and allergies. 
 
14) Is Kuth helpful for Joint pains?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Kuth oil helps manage bone and joint pains when applied to the affected area. As per Ayurveda, the bones and joints are considered as the site of Vata in the body. Pain in the joints is mostly because of deranged Vata. Applying Kuth oil assists will help in decreasing joint pain because of its Vata adjusting property.
 
15) Can Kuth be used to enhance memory?
MODERN SCIENCE VIEW: Yes,  a fine powder of every one of Kuth, Brahmi (Centella Asiatica), Ashwagandha (Withania Somnifera), Saindav namak,  Vacha (Acorus Calamus), Cumin seeds, Saunth, Mirch, and Pippali (Trikatu), Ajamod (Hyoscyamus Niger),  Patha (Cissampelos Pareira) and Shankhapushpi can be made and Combined all well. Take 1-2 gm of the powder, blended in with Ghee and Honey, and take it a few times per day.
 
16) Is Kuth an endangered species of plant? 
Due to the illegal trade of the plant and its unregulated collection Kuth is now threatened and on the verge of being an endangered plant species. Kuth finds itself in high demand in the Tibetan region and is a very common ingredient of traditional Chinese medicines; and is one of the most sacred plants in India as it is believed to be derived from divine plants. It is used to pay homage to goddess Nanda Devi.  Factors like these and the traditions and values associated with the plant leads to its high demand in the market. Because the root is very highly valued, the entire plant has to be plucked out from the ground.
 
17) Can Kuth be used while consuming Homeopathic medicine?
Any product associated with Kuth does not interact with Homeopathic medicine.
 
18) Can Kuth be used with western medicines?
It is advisable to seek the doctor's advice before consuming Kuth with western medicines because certain ayurvedic herbs tend to react with allopathic medicines. Suppose you are to take both allopathic and ayurvedic medicines. In that case, it is wise to take the allopathic medicine first, followed by the ayurvedic one with a gap of 30 minutes between the dosages.
 
19) What is Kuth's effect on Tridosha?
Kuth has a pungent and bitter taste and has a sweet taste that balances both Kapha and Vata, respectively.

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