Last Updated: September 28 2022

Picrorhiza kurroa (Kutki or Picroliv) is a liver tonic from Ayurveda that, when used at low doses, appears to exceed milk thistle silymarins in potency. It is underresearched, but its liver protective effects and some other immunomodulatory properties hold potential.

Kutki is most often used for


Picrorhiza kurroa is a herb from Ayurveda that is commonly called Kutki or Kutaki. It contains a 'bitter principle' which is a mixture of two molecules, the irioid glycosides known as picroside I and picroside II (picroside II also being called kutkoside) and the mixture overall is then called kutkin or picroliv. Overall, these are the active components.

The herb itself, due solely to the kutkin molecules, appears to be potently hepatoprotective (protective of the liver) when ingested prior to or taken after exposure to a toxin. The protective effects seem to extend to all tested toxins or stressors that are known to alter liver function, and appear to also extend to states of intrinsic liver dysfunction (viral hepatitis and NAFLD from a high fat diet). Most notably it is protective against Tylenol, alcohol, and the deathcap mushroom with a potency that is greater than silymarins (the active parts of milk thistle supplementation).

This fairly remarkable hepatoprotection from picrorhiza kurroa is limited by its lack of human studies, as despite the multitude of animal research on the topic there appears to only be one study in humans which showed that a very low dose of the supplement (25mg kutkin) was effective against viral hepatitis. Future studies in humans are needed to confirm its protective effects, and currently picrorhiza kurroa is a remarkably promising herb.

What else is Kutki known as?
Note that Kutki is also known as:
  • Kutki
  • Picrorhiza Scrophulariiflora
  • Katuki
  • Kurro
  • Kutkin
  • Picroliv
  • Picrolax
  • Picrorhiza Kurroa
Dosage information

Supplementation of picroliv (picroside I plus picroside II) appears to be most effective in at 12mg/kg (the higher dose, 24mg/kg, is not significantly more effective than 12mg/kg in most cases) and this leads to a preliminary human dosage of:

  • 130 mg for a 150lb person
  • 170 mg for a 200lb person
  • 220 mg for a 250lb person

Although the above dosage levels are ideal, lower doses also appear to be effective and the lone human study used a total picroside I and II dosage of around 25mg.

If using an extract of picrorhiza kurroa, then the above dosage refers to the total picroside I and II content (kutkin or picroliv) rather than the weight of the plant itself. For example, a plant extract that is 1,000 mg and contains 4% picroliv will confer 40 mg picroliv.

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