Saussurea lappa (Indian costus plant) helps normalize and strengthen digestion, detoxify, enhance fertility, and reduce pain. Many Ayurvedic medicines manufactured in India contain kushta root, which is believed to possess antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Unani recognizes costus as a great medicinal plant with carminative, aphrodisiac, and anthelmintic effects. It was also thought to be a brain stimulant, and treatment for liver diseases, deafness, headache, paralysis, cough, fever, inflammation, and ophthalmic conditions (Madhuri et al., 2012). The essential oil of the root is believed to relax bronchial muscles, providing relief in cases of bronchitis, and asthma.
Saussurea costus root is one of 50 fundamental medicinal herbs in Traditional Chinese Medicine. It can move qi, relieve pain, fortify the spleen, and disperse food (Jiaju Zhou et al., 2010). It is antiseptic and is traditionally used to treat digestive and respiratory system ailments. Costus oil is also useful in treating nematode infections.
According to Waly (2009), S. lappa might be used in phlegmatic diseases. It is effective in treating general weakness from diarrhea and cholera. It can be used on clothes to repel insects. Internally, it is a good expectorant, antispasmodic, and neurotoxin that can treat cough, bronchitis, bronchial asthma, paralysis, facial palsy, and neurasthenia.
The root’s anticonvulsant properties have been studied and results validated on experiments on rats (Ambavade et al 2009). Different pharmacological in vitro, and in vivo models have convincingly demonstrated the ability of S. costus to exhibit anti-inflammatory, anti-ulcer, anticancer, and hepatoprotective properties. Several molecules isolated from this plant have potential as bioactive molecules (Pandey et al., 2007).
A number of scientific experiments, including human trials, validate some of the traditional medicinal uses of the root. Experiments on rats indicate cardioprotective properties of the root. It is mandatory to follow drug discovery protocols before any use of the root and essential oil can be unambiguously stated (Ambawade et al., 2009; Hasson et al., 2013; Kim et al., 2014).
I could not, in the course of my research on this plant find credible evidence that would indicate that the herb will cause cancer. But, this comment should be taken with caution. Any medicine, herbal or modern, when taken without medical supervision and in more than prescribed quantities is likely to cause harm to the body. The principle on which Ayurveda and other ancient herbal medicine systems operate is that they restore balance to an unhealthy or diseased body. Over consuming of any herb is likely to cause disbalance and this in turn will lead to the expression of disease.