Turpeth is a large stout twining perennial herb with sap. Its white flowers are funnel shaped in bunches. Its leaves are egg shaped and heart shaped. Its fruits are roundish with usually fourseeds to each. The herb has a many branched root and quadrangular, winged stems. It is also called as Indian rhubarb or Indian jalap because of its purgative characteristic.
The dried roots of the plant constitute the drug. There are two varieties of turpeth with either white or black tuberous roots. The roots of the white variety have to be used.
The bark of turpeth contains a glcosidic resin, which has ether insoluble glycoside turpethein and two ether soluble glycosides. Besides, it also contains a small amount of volatile oil, glucose and fructose.
Botanical Name: Operculina turpethum
Indian Name: Nisoth or Pithori
Below are some of the medicinal properties of turpeth:
- Turpeth is useful in treating rheumatic and paralytic diseases. A single dose of 3 to 4 grams should be taken daily.
- For the treatment of gout, it is administered in the same way as for dropsical affections.
- In Ayurveda, turpeth is considered to be one of the two major drugs with which the treatment of jaundice should start, the other drug being kutuki. One or two teaspoon of the powder of each of the two drugs may be administered with hot water twice daily.
- It is also effective for other diseases like melancholia, leprosy, enlargement of spleen and paralysis. Its efficacy increases when mixed with chebulic myroblan.
- It is used as a purgative. It has almost the same properties as the true jalap, botanically known as exogonium purga and can be used with advantage as its substitute. It is superior to the herb rhubarb. Its powdered roots are used as a purgative and to relieve any chronic constipation.
- Turpeth is an effective remedy in the treatment of dropsical affections. The tuberous roots in doses of 2 to 4 grams mixed with chebulic myrobalan (harad) are especially beneficial in such disorders.