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Common Name: Kuru
Picrorhiza kurroa is a Perennial
It has medicinal uses.
E. Asia - Himalayas from Kashmir to Sikkim.
Found in the higher mountain elevations at 2700 - 3600 metres.
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will be hardy in Britain. However, judging by its native range, it is likely to succeed outdoors at least in the milder areas of the country.
Kuru has a long history of medicinal use, especially in India but also in China where it is known as hu huang lian[
]. The dried rhizome is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiperiodic, cathartic (in large doses), cholagogue, laxative (in smaller doses), stomachic and bitter tonic[
]. The root contains a number of very bitter glucosides including kutkin and picrorhizin[
]. It also contains apocynin, which is powerfully anti-inflammatory and reduces platelet aggregation[
]. In trials, the rhizome was shown to boost the immune system and to have a specific action against the parasie Leishmania donovani, which causes the tropical parasitic disease called leishmaniasis[
The rhizome has a very beneficial effect upon the liver and digestive system and is used in the treatment of a wide range of conditions including fevers, constipation, dyspepsia and jaundice[
]. It is also often used in the treatment of scorpion stings and snake bites[
]. There is also some evidence that the rhizome can be of help in the treatment of bronchial asthma and a number of auto-immune diseases such as psoriasis and vitiligo[
], whilst it has also been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels and reduce coagulation time. The rhizome is gathered in the autumn and dried for later use[
Seed - we have no information on this species. It is likely that the best way of propagating from seed is to sow it as soon as it is ripe, preferably in a cold frame or greenhouse. If this is not possible, sow the seed in late winter or early spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and plant out in the summer.
Division of the rhizome in the autumn or spring.