Reviewed on 6/11/2021
Other Name(s):

Chardon de Lait Indien, Hu Huang Lian, Katki, Katuka, Katuko, Katurohini, Katvi, Kuru, Kutki, Neopicrorhiza scrophulariiflora, Picrorhiza kurroia, Picrorhiza scrophulariiflora, Picrorhiza Urrooa, Picroriza, Xi Zang Hu Huang Lian.


Picrorhiza is a plant that grows in the Himalayan mountains. People, especially practitioners of Ayurvedic medicine, use the root and rhizome (underground stem) for treatment. Picrorhiza has been harvested to near extinction.

Picrorhiza is used for yellowed skin (jaundice), sudden liver infections caused by a virus (acute viral hepatitis), fever, allergy, and asthma. It is also used to treat skin conditions including eczema and vitiligo, a disorder that causes white patches on the skin. Some people use picrorhiza for digestion problems including indigestion, constipation, and ongoing diarrhea. Other uses include treatment of infection, scorpion stings, epilepsy, malaria, and rheumatoid arthritis.

How does it work?

More information is needed to know how picrorhiza might work. Picrorhiza contains chemicals that might stimulate the immune system, kill cancer cells, and relieve inflammation (swelling).


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Uses & Effectiveness

Possibly Effective for...

  • Vitiligo, a disorder that causes white patches to develop on the skin. Taking picrorhiza by mouth for up to one year, in combination with a drug called methoxsalen that is taken by mouth and applied to the skin, seems to help treat vitiligo in adults and children.

Possibly Ineffective for...

  • Asthma. Taking picrorhiza by mouth for up to 12 weeks doesn't seem to help asthma symptoms or improve lung function.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for...

  • Sudden liver infections caused by a virus (acute viral hepatitis). Early research suggests that taking picrorhiza by mouth for 2 weeks might relieve symptoms such as anorexia, nausea, and feelings of general discomfort in people with acute viral hepatitis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Other conditions.
More evidence is needed to rate the effectiveness of picrorhiza for these uses.

Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate (detailed description of each of the ratings).

Side Effects

Picrorhiza is POSSIBLY SAFE for most people, when taken by mouth for up to one year. It can cause vomiting, rash, anorexia, diarrhea, and itching.


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Special Precautions & Warnings

Pregnancy and breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking picrorhiza if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Picrorhiza might cause the immune system to become more active. This could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it's best to avoid using picrorhiza.

Diabetes: Picrorhiza might lower blood sugar levels in some people. Watch for signs of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) and monitor your blood sugar carefully if you have diabetes and use picrorhiza.

Surgery: Picrorhiza might lower blood sugar in some people. In theory, picrorhiza might interfere with blood sugar control during and after surgical procedures. Stop using picrorhiza at least 2 weeks before a scheduled surgery.


Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes medications)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Picrorhiza might lower blood sugar in some people. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking picrorhiza along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.

Medications that decrease the immune system (Immunosuppressants)Interaction Rating: Moderate Be cautious with this combination.Talk with your health provider.

Picrorhiza might increase the activity of the immune system. Taking picrorhiza along with medications that decrease the activity of the immune system might decrease the effectiveness of these medications.

Some medications that decrease the activity of the immune system include azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), corticosteroids (glucocorticoids), and others.


Eczema Browse our medical image collection of allergic skin disorders such as psoriasis and dermatitis and more caused by allergies See Images


The following doses have been studied in scientific research:


  • For a disease called vitiligo that causes white patches on the skin: 200 mg of picrorhiza rhizome powder twice a day, in combination with a medication called methoxsalen that is taken by mouth and applied to the affected skin.

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