Saussurea is a tall, stout herb with very large heart shaped leaves and hairy fruits. It has an annual stem, perennial roots, bluish, bluish-purple or almost black flowers. The dried roots of the plant constitute the drug. It is known as castus in English.
The roots of saussurea contain an essential oil, alkaloid saussurine and a bitter resin. The resinoid on distillation with superheated stem under reduced pressure yields an essential oil. However, the essential oil contains terpenes, aplotaxene and sesquiterpenes. The root of saussurea has a pungent taste and a peculiar fragrance. It is a tonic, aphrodisiac, antiseptic and a stimulant.
Botanical Name: Saussurea lappa
Indian Name: Kuth
Below are some of the medicinal properties of saussurea:
- The essential oil obtained from the saussurea has antiseptic and disinfectant properties. It relaxes the involuntary muscle tissue and is a diuretic.
- Saussurea is useful in the treatment of respiratory disorders like bronchitis, asthma and cough, especially controlling attacks of bronchial asthma. The combined action of the essential oil and the alkaloid in the root restrict the paroxysms. The alkaloid saussurine has a depressant action on the vagus centre in the medulla, which supplies motor nerve fiber as well as on the involuntary muscle fibers of the broncholes and gastrointestinal tract. It produces a slight but persistent rise in blood pressure and increases the force of contraction and amplitude of the ventricles. The essential oil not only relaxes the bronchial muscle, but also has a marked expectorant action which relieves turgescene of the mucosa. It, however, does not produce a permanent cure unless the causal factors are investigated into and removed.
- This powerful aromatic stimulant is also beneficial in cholera. An infusion made of 3 grams of fresh saussurea, 1 gram of cardamom and 120 ml of water can be administered in 30 grams doses every half an hour in treating this condition. The essential oil in the herb produces reflex inhibition by its stimulating properties. it helps I controlling the disease. It is an irritant and has a strong penetrating and persistent odor and taste. The depresent action of the drug on the brain helps in relieving the spasm.
- It is used as tonic and as an aphrodisiac. During its passage through the urethra the essential oil excreted in the urine produces a certain amount of irritation, acting as a stimulant.
- It is also used with good results in the treatment of severe ulcerations. The dried and powdered root is the principal ingredient in any astringent and stimulant ointment.
- Saussurea prevents premature graying of hair. The dried and powdered root can be used as hair wash.