This section is from the book "A Text Book Of Materia Medica, Being An Account Of The More Important Crude Drugs Of Vegetable And Animal Origin", by Henry G. Greenish. Also available from Amazon: A Text Book of Materia Medica : Being an Account of the More Important Crude Drugs of Vegetable and Animal Origin.
Picrorhiza is the dried rhizome of Picrorhiza Kurroa, Royle (N.O. Scrophularineoe), a small plant indigenous to the Alpine Himalayas.
The rhizomes are greyish brown, more or less cylindrical, about 2.5 to 5 cm. long and 4 to 8 mm. thick. They are often deeply wrinkled longitudinally and covered with a thin cork. The surface exhibits the transverse scars of cataphyllary leaves, numerous, small, black buds but only an occasional root or root-scar; near the apex are the black remains of closely approximated scaly leaves. They are light in weight, break readily with a short fracture disclosing a very dark, lacunous interior. The section exhibits a thin, pale grey cork and a narrow ring of tangentially extended wood bundles. Taste very bitter.
The chief constituent is the bitter, crystalline glucoside, picrorhizin.
Tonic and antiperiodic.