KUTAJA (Holarrhena antidysenterica)
Kataja plant is fabled to have sprung from the drops of amrta or elixir of life, which fell on the ground from the bodies of Rama’s monkeys, who were restored to life by Indra. The seeds of kutaja are called as Indra’d seeds – Indrayava . Caraka has described multiple used of the plant. The pods have stanyasodhana lactodepurant, indrayava have amapacaka – digests the ama and asthapanopaga – adjunct to decoction enema, properties. Whereas kutaja in general, is said to possess vamaka – emetic and arsoghna – anti haemorrhoidal qualities. Susruta mentions indrayava as stanyasodhana – lactodepurant and kutaja as sukra sodhana – sperm purifier. Vagbhata has specified it as the best anti-diarrhea.
The plant is indigenous to India and found all over the country in deciduous forests up to 900 meters. The small tree, 9-12 meters in height and the bark pale, grayish in color. The leaves, 9-18 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, broadly ovate to elliptic. Flowers in terminal corymbs cymes, white, slightly fragrant. The fruit pod, 20 to 40 cm long, in pairs, cylindrical and narrow. The seeds are linear-oblong, 1 cm long. 25-30 seeds per pod, smoky in color.
Kutaja belongs to apocynaceae family and is botanically known as Holarrhena antidysenterica. This plant is often confused with another plant of the same family called Wrightia tinctoria, which is medicinally inert. Caraka has described two kinds of kutaja namely female and male kutaja. According to color of the flowers kutaja has two varieties namely black and white. However, the white kutaja and the bitter seeds are said to have better medicinal properties.
O-free alkaloids (conessine, conimine), conkurchine group alkaloids (including conessidine) and O-containing alkaloids (holarrhenine, holafrine, holarrhetine) present in bark whereas leaves contain O-containing alkaloids (kurchiphyllamine and kurchiphylline).Two new aminoglycosteroids – holantosines A and B isolated from leaves (Tetrahedron 1970, 26, 1695).three new aminodeoxyglycosteroids – holarosine B and holantosines E and F isolated from leaves (Chem. Abstr. 1973, 78, 4474 f).Two new alkaloids – holacine and holacimine isolated from bark and a new alkaloid holarricine-isolated from seeds.
Kutaja is pungent, bitter and astringent in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and cold in potency. It elevates kapha and pitta doshas. It possesses light and dry attributes.
The seeds – indrayava, are bitter and pungent in taste , pungent in the post digestive effect and hot in potency . They alleviate all the three doshas.
The seeds and the skin of the bark is used for medicinal purpose. Kutaja plant is used both internally as well as externally. Externally, to promote healing, the wounds are cleansed with the decoction of its skin. The paste of the skin is also applied on the boils. The oozing wounds are dressed with its seed powder. The fomentation with the decoction of the skins of kutaja, nimba, sirisa, eranda and arka is given with great benefit in swellings.
Orally kutaja is effectively used in various maladies; It works well in the treatment of diarrhea and dysentery, associated with bleeding as well. Since centuries, it has been used as a household remedy for the same. The decoction of its skin, with that of dadima is an effective medicament for diarrhea with bleeding. Kutajavaleha gives excellent results in colitis and diarrhea. Kutaja is also helpful to augment the digestion and appetite. The abdominal pain due to flatulence is alleviated with the decoction of sindrayava with asafetida. Kutaja is of special benefit in treating bleeding piles (Paranjpe Prakash. Patki Pralhad, Joshi Nishikant, Jan. 2000, efficacy of indigenous formulation in patients with bleeding piles – Fitoterapia). Because of its styptic property, it helps arresting the bleeding piles – fitoterapia). Because of its styptic property, it helps arresting the bleeding the bleeding and along with as it improves theagni, it becomes the herb of choice as it eliminates the pathological factors in bleeding piles. It also works well in other ano-rectal problems like proctitis, painful defecation, rectal swellings etc, when decoction of its skin or seed powder is given with buttermilk.
It is one of the most commonly used herbs in fever associated with diarrhea. It works well as an antipyretic as well as ktuka and kuratatikta. The decoction of its seeds and musta is given with honey to alleviate fever, distaste, excessive thirst. Kutaja is beneficial also in skin diseases, especially of oozing type. It can be used as an adjuvant in the treatment of obesity to get rid of excessive fats, as it scrapesthem out – lekhana and digests them sosama. It helps to rectify medadhatu agni because of its bitter taste. The herb is also useful in gout as well as raktapitta. The skin of the bark, grated in cow’s milk wirks well in painful, difficult micturition and in urinary stones also. Kutaja skin and vidanga seed powder is a popular household remedy for intestinal worm infestations in children.
Kutajarista and Kutajavaleha are the most popular preparations used in diarrhea, dysentery, colitis and bleeding problems. The clinical controlled trials have proved kutaja to be the best have proved kutaja to be the best amoebicidal. The efficacy of this herb in intestinal amoebiasis and giardiasis is nearly 70%. The response in Entamoeba histolytica cystpassers when treated with kutaja bark was excellent.
Classical Ayurvedic Preparations
- Kutajastaka kvatha
- Kutajaghana vati etc.