KUSTHA (Sanssurea lappa)
This versatile herb has been used throughout the ages for the treatment of numerous illnesses. It is one of the herbs mentioned in al ancient scriptures of Ayurveda and has various synonyms like utpala, kasmira, vapya, sugandhika, sulahara, svasari etc. Ayurvedic Smhitas have mentioned the multifarious properties of its roots, as thermogenic, aromatic, deodorant, aphrodisiac, carminative, digestive, stomachic, diaphoretic, stimulant, galactogogue, diuretic, disinfectant, expectorant, febrifuge, rejuvenating and tonic. The great sage Caraka has categorized kustha as lekhaniya – a reducing herb; asthapanopaga – adjunct to decoction enemas and sukra sodhaniya – purifies the seminal fluids.
Kustha is found at an altitude of 2500-3000 meters in Kashmir and neighboring Himalayan regions. A tall perennial grows up to 2 meters in height. The leaves very large, upper ones smaller, the lower basal ones up to 1.2 meter long. The flowers about 2 cm long. Bluish purple, borne on round flower heads. The fruits compressed achene’s, with hairs on fruits (pappus) about 1.7 cm long, feathery. The roots are brown, aromatic, up to 60 cm long. The roots used for medicinal purpose are dug up in autumn.
The botanical name of kustha is Saussurea lappa and it belongs to family Compositae, Asteraceae. The root contains essential oils, resins, insulin, tannins, potassium nitrate and an alkaloid which has been named saussurine. From the ethereal extract of the roots, a liquid fraction named kushthin has been isolated. From the roots of Punjab variety costunolide, dehydrocostuslactone, cyclocostuno-lide and costic, palmitic, linoleic acids, besides sitosterol have been isolated. Whereas, Kashmir variety yielded castunolide, dehydro-costuslactone, cyclocostunolide, cyclocostunolide and isoalantolactone. Four new sesquiterpenes are isolated from the root oil. Isolation and structure elucidation of isodehydrocostus lactone and isozaluzanin.
Kustha is bitter, pungent and sweet in taste, pungent in the post digestive effect and has hot potency. It alleviates kapha and vata doshas. It possesses light, dry and sharp attributes. It is mainly used in the diseases like bronchial asthma, cough, skin diseases, gout etc.
The roots of kustha have great medicinal value and are used both, internally as well as externally. The external application of the paste of its roots is the great panacea for skin diseases like erysipelas, leprosy, leucoderma, pruritus, ringworm, chronic and foul ulcers and dispigmentation of the skin. The paste of kustha and erranda roots is applied on the forehead to alleviate headache. Kustha is one of the common ingredients incorporated in hair oil preparations. The root oil is massaged on gums, in toothache as well as in rheumatic joints. The pieces of roots kept in linens and woolen clothes, help their preservation.
Internally, kustha is used in vast range of diseases. It is a keen stimulant for digestive system and is effectively used in loss of appetite, indigestion, diarrhea and abdominal pain. It is a potent blood purifier, stimulant to heart and alleviates edema, hence a valuable remedy for gout, rheumatic fever, arthritis etc. In such ailments, it is given along with castor oil. Kustha is one of the recommended herbs in the treatment of epilepsy and other vata diseases. In respiratory maladies like cough, asthama, pleurisy, whooping cough, hiccup and bronchospasms, it is the most effective herb, commonly used. It is a uterine stimulant and hence salutary in oligomenorrhea, amenorrhea. The root powder (1-2 gm) is given along with honey in such conditions. In nursing mothers, kustha is salubrious as a galactogogue, to promote the quantity of breast milk. In combination with haridra (turmeric), ghee and honey, it works well as an aphrodisiac and also improves the seminal fluids qualitatively. As it is diuretic, it is useful in dysuria. It is beneficial as a tonic and rejuvenative in general debility.
- Kusthadi curna
- Kusthadi kvatha
- Kustha taila etc.