Botanical Name: Operculina turpethum
Indian Name: Pithori
Origin, Distribution and Composition
Turpeth, also known as Indian jalap, is a large, stout twining perennial herb with sap. It has a many branched root and quadrangular, winged stems. Its leaves are egg-shaped and heart. shaped. Its white flowers are funnel-shaped in bunches. Its fruits are roundish with usually fourseeds to each. The herb 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 this plant, with either white or black tuberous roots. The roots of the white variety has to be used. The trade name is based on its scientific name. The bark of the plant contains a glycosidic 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.
Healing Power and Curative Properties
Turpeth has long been used in India as a cathartic, that is, a drug which induces active movement of the bowels, but it was officially recognised in the list of Indian Pharmacopoeia only in 1946. Only the dried roots of the white variety with its bark intact finds its place there.
Turpeth 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.
The drug is beneficial in treating rheumatic and paralytic diseases. A single dose of 3 to 4 grams should be taken daily.
Turpeth is a valuable drug in the treatment of dropsical affections. The tuberous roots in doses of 2 to 4 grams mixed with chebulic myroblan (harad) are especially beneficial in such disorders.
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.
Turpeth is also effective for other diseases like melancholoa. leprosy, enlargement of spleen and paralysis. Its efficacy increases, when mixed with chebulic myroblan.