Kutaja (Holarrhena Antidysenterica) is a well-known medicinal herb prescribed in the Ayurvedic and Unani system of medicine. It is especially popular for the treatment of dysentery and diarrhoea.
What is Kutaja?
Kutaja is a large tree around 30-40 feet in height. It bears white flowers and fruits around half an inch in diameter. This plant is found in the subtropical regions of Asia and Africa. In India, this tree is found in abundance especially in the sub Himalayan regions. The seeds, leaves and the bark of the tree are usually prescribed as medicines.
- In Orissa, people offer rice with Kutaja leaves during the festival of Nabanna.
- In Ayurveda, this herb is a major constituent of many important Ayurvedic formulations such as Kutajarishta, Kutajavleha, Kutajghan vati, Mahamanjishtadi Kashayam, Stanyashodhana Kashaya, and Patoladi Choornam.
- Many Indian tribes have used kutaja for the treatment of conditions such as anemia, cholera and epilepsy.
The following medicinal properties of Kutaja has been reported:
- Antidiabetic: The seeds of Kutaja are known to possess antidiabetic properties.
- Anticancer: There is some evidence that alcohol extracts of Kutaja leaves has anticancer activity in lung, colon, liver, ovarian, cervical and neurological cancers.
- Anti-plasmodial: Animal studies have found that kutaja plant extracts have significant activity against certain plasmodium species such as plasmodium bergheii.
- Antibacterial: Kutaja has been found to be effective against various microorganisms that cause diarrhea such as coli, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, and Salmonella typhi.The bark extracts have also shown some activity against Anti-methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
Different parts of the Kutaja plant have different medicinal uses. They are as follows:
- Diarrhoea and Dysentery: The juice extracted from the Kutaja bark or the paste of the bark are used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery.
- Intestinal Worms: The juice obtained from pounding Kutaja leaves are given to kill worms in the intestine.
- Liver problems: The decoction of the bark is used to treat liver problems.
- Body pains: The ground bark with water can be taken orally or applied on the body to treat body ache.
- Stomach ache: Dried bark powder when taken orally is helpful to reduce stomach ache
- Antidote: 5-10 grams of powdered seeds, given orally and the paste of the seeds applied locally serves as an antidote and helps in relieving pain and swelling due to poisonous bites.
The bark of the tree is also used for treatment of bleeding piles, as a diuretic (to increase urine production), and chest problems. The seed has been used for conceiving and also to tone up vaginal tissues after delivery.
The following are some of the side effects reported with the use of Kutaja such as nausea, flatulence, heat sensation in the stomach and the head, constipation, insomnia, vertigo, syncope, weakness, dry mouth and lightness of the body.
In some cases, it has also known to cause neurological symptoms such as agitation, vertigo, insomnia, delirium and anxiety.
The appropriate dose of Kutaja depends upon the illness, the age, sex and overall health of the person using it. More studies are needed to determine the recommended safe dose of Kutaja.
As for any drug, herbal medicines such as Kutaja should also be taken according to the dosage suggested by the health care provider.