Costus(Kuth in Hindi) is a tall perennial herb which is known for its medicinal properties. Its stems are up to 2 m tall, or more. The lower leaves are long-stalked, pinnate, roughly around 30-40 cm long, with a triangular terminal leaflet, up to 30 cm long. The upper leaves are smaller, up to 30 cm long, stem-clasping. The leaves are irregularly toothed. The top of the stem has a rounded cluster of a few purple flower-heads. These flower-heads look like balls covered with purple bracts.
Costus is a medicinal plant which is frequently cultivated in the Himalayas. It is found in the Himalayas, from Pakistan to Himachal Pradesh, at altitudes of 2000-3300 m. July to August marks the flowering season of this unique herb.
Costus is widely used in several traditional systems of medicine for the treatment of various ailments, like asthma, inflammatory diseases, ulcer and stomach problems. This medicinal herb is found in Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Uttar Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
- It is antiseptic, antiviral, antispasmodic in nature.
- It is also bactericidal and has digestive properties.
- It is stimulant, expectorant and stomachic too. It is used as incense.
- It is also used as a fixative and fragrance component in cosmetics and perfumes.
- Costus contains other substances like saussureanine, cholamine, syringin, picriside B which contribute to healing and medicinal exhibited by the herb.
- It is hot in potency, pungent and bitter in taste. The herb facilitates spermatogenesis.
The following table describes the property in Hindi and Sanskrit.
Laghu, Rooksha, Teekshna
Dosage And Usage Information:
- Studies involving the use of kuth or kushta ( known in Ayurveda ) in children reported that dosages of 40 mg/kg per day were well-tolerated.
- For an approximately 50kg adult, that would translate to 1.8 grams (1,800 milligrams) per day.
Saussurea powders and liquids are usually mixed with water or juice. They should be measured precisely with a measuring spoon or dropper (4-8 drops recommended). Saussurea root is commonly used to make tea.
Kuth Uses In Everyday Lives
- It is used as a flavouring agent in alcoholic drinks, confectionery and soft drinks.
- Used against Asthma, Cough, Dysentery and Cholera
- Used as a tonic
- It is a gastric stimulant, hence is used to treat gas formation in the body. It also treats gastric ulcers.
- It is orally used for nematode infections.
- Its juice or oil when applied externally is used to treat skin problems.
- It is also helpful for menstrual problems like irregular, scanty and painful menses.
- Saussurea costus has a diuretic property that eliminates excess water of the body.
- The herb improves healing of the skin as well as complexion by improving the blood circulation.
- Prevents infections and bacterial growth.
- Nourishes reproductive organs.
- Kuth is used as an insect repellant due to its antifeedant potential.
- Used to cure epilepsy.
- Costus root is burnt in shrines.
- It is used as a tonic in hot baths.
- As it ages, it develops a sweeter aroma with rosy undertones. It blends well with sandalwood, vetiver, rose, violet, patchouli and ylang-ylang.
Benefits Of Saussurea Costus
Against Worm Infestation
Kuth helps to manage worm infections due to its anthelmintic property. Infections are due to parasitic worms such as tapeworm, roundworms which cause ascariasis (an infection of the small intestine caused by Ascaris lumbricoides, a species of roundworm) and many other diseases in human beings.
Kuth suppresses the parasitic activity and removes the worms from the human body. This reduces the risk of infections. Kuth either stuns the worm or kills them. This leads to stoppage of infection from spreading in various parts of the body.
According to Ayurveda, indigestion means the state of incomplete process of digestion. Kuth manages indigestion by improving the digestive fire. The main reason for indigestion is a drastic increase in Kapha that causes Agnimandya (weak digestive fire). Taking Kuth powder helps improve Agni (digestive fire) inside the body and digests the food easily.
Deepan (appetizer) and Pachan (digestive) properties exhibited by this herb is certainly responsible for the prevention of indigestion.
From a modern scientific point of view, kuth has anthelmintic and antimicrobial properties. Because of this, it prevents the growth of bacteria in the large intestine and hence provides great relief from indigestion. Basically, it suppresses the activity of parasites in the body.
How to use it for indigestion is a question to many readers. So here is how we use kuth for indigestion:-
- Take few dried Kuth roots and grind them to make a powder.
- Take 4-8 pinches of this Kuth powder and make a mixture with organic honey
- Take this mixture once or twice a day after lunch and dinner to manage indigestion.
Kuth helps one to get relief from gas or flatulence. Flatulence is caused due to an imbalance of Vata and Pitta dosha. Depleted Pitta dosha and an aggravated Vata dosha causes low digestive fire, thus impairing digestion. Impaired digestion leads to gas or flatulence.
Deepan (appetizer) and Pachan (digestive) properties present in Kuth powder improves the digestive fire and corrects digestion.
For gas formation, use the same way as described above (in case of digestion)
Kuth Against Asthma
Kuth not only gives relief in case of breathlessness but also helps to control the symptoms of asthma. According to Ayurveda, the main doshas involved in asthma are Vata and Kapha. The vitiated ‘Vata’ combined with deranged ‘Kapha dosha’ in the lungs causes an obstruction in the respiratory passage. This results in difficulty in breathing. This condition is known as Swas Roga (asthma). Kuth powder helps balances Vata and Kapha dosha and removes excess mucus from the lungs. This gives relief from the symptoms of asthma.
Kuth roots act as a muscle relaxant and an expectorant. It helps release the congestion of mucus from the lungs and clears the blockage in the air passages which helps ease breathing.
Kuth is useful in digestive disorders like dysentery. Dysentery is known as Pravahika in Ayurveda and is caused by vitiated Kapha and Vata doshas. Because of vata and kapha balancing nature of Kuth, it helps to control and cure dysentery.
Kuth has antimicrobial property. Hence it prevents the growth of certain disease-causing organisms in the large intestine. This helps in reducing abdominal pain and inflammation associated with dysentery.
Kuth or Costus is used to cure paralysis. Take 0.5 gram to 1 gram of Saussurea costus root powder two times a day. Kuth powder removes the toxic element that slows down the blood circulation at different parts of the body. Hence, kuth increases blood flow throughout the body by removing these toxic substances. It also strengthens the weak nerve. This slowly improves the condition of the patient as his neural system can transmit signals at a normal pace.
Kuth For Scanty Periods
Scanty period is a condition where women experience the menstrual cramping during her menstruation, but the flow is very light. This may lead to irregular cycles. The scanty quality indicates that the endometrium tissue is not being built in a healthy manner. To ensure a regular flow it is advisable to use kuth.
Due to its vatasamak property costus is used in painful menses and for lack of or scanty periods due to stagnation in artavavahasrotas. It stimulates ovulation and promotes a regular cycle.
Tips to use kuth during painful periods:
- Take 1 to 2 grams of Saussurea costus root powder with honey/water twice a day for 15 days.
Kuth Oil / Costus Root Oil Benefits
Costus root oil has a woodsy and grainy smell. It is generally brownish-yellow in colour. The oil is extracted from the root of Costus by using steam distillation method.
The following are a few benefits of using Costus oil.
- Costus root oil is a fabulous remedy for ageing skin. It fights the signs of ageing like sagging skin, fine wrinkles and age spots. Costus root oil fights skin inflammation too. It helps to give skin a natural glow and lighten the tone. It’s cleansing effect on rakta dhatu benefits bhrajaka pitta. The essential oil of the roots exhibits strong antiseptic and disinfectant activity against Streptococcus and Staphylococcus. It is used externally for skin problems from bacterial infection.
- When applied to the affected area kuth oil manages the bone and joint pain. According to Ayurveda, the bones and joints are considered as the site of Vata in the body. Pain in the joints is mainly due to Vata imbalance. Kuth oil has Vata balancing property that helps to reduce joint pain. It reduces inflammation and stops spasms by increasing the blood circulation at the affected area.
Against Hair Loss
Alopecia is a condition of hair loss, which is not limited to head but is related to hair loss taking place over the entire body. Patches are seen on the area which has been affected. Eyebrows, head, hands and chest are a few common areas of hair loss as concerned in men. But kuth is used as a major component in the preparation of Bhringaraj oil. It is a natural remedy which is often used to promote hair growth, lustre, and strength. It contains extract of false daisy and costus root oil. Thailand, China, Brazil and India are the major markets where this oil has proved to be very effective amongst the customers. Pitta imbalance is treated by Bhringaraj oil.
Kuth For Healing Wounds
Kuth or its oil helps in decreasing swelling, quick healing of the wound and in bringing back the normal texture of the skin. Due to its Ropan (healing) property, it also works on skin problems like cuts or wound. It eliminates the bacterias and infections present on the open wound.
Tips to use kuth oil:-
- It is advised to take 4-8 drops of Kuth oil or as per your requirement.
- Mix with 1-2 teaspoon coconut oil.
- Apply on the affected area twice or thrice a day.
- Repeat for quick wound healing.
Side Effects Of Kuth
- When taken in large dose Saussurea costus damages kidneys and causes cancer as it contains aristolochic acid.
- It may have severe effects on people with heart disease, kidney disease.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming it. If they do consume it, take it under medical supervision.
- People with hypertension should avoid its consumption.
- It might cause allergic reactions such as dermatitis due to its hot potency.
- Kuth contains certain chemical constituent which may cause allergic reactions such as dermatitis.
- People who are allergic to ragweed may also be allergic to Kuth. Do consult your doctor before consuming this powder.
- Kuth contains some active constituent which may cause damage to kidneys on prolonged use. Do not consume it if not under an ayurvedic practitioner’s supervision.
- Kuth must be preserved in well-closed, airtight containers which are kept away from sunlight and heat. Preferably in amber colour glass containers.
- Never take costus root oil directly from the mouth in excess as it may cause a lot of severe reactions. These reactions are still under study and are yet to be known.
Hence, always recommend a doctor before using the oil.