Costus commonly known as , Indian costus, kuth, or putchuk, is a species of thistle in the genus Saussurea native to India. Rishi (Hindu) mystics of Kashmir especially ate this plant. Essential oils extracted from the root have been used in traditional medicine and in perfumes since ancient times. Saussurea Costus falls within the Kingdom: Plantae, Phylum: Tracheophyta, Class: Magnoliopsida, Order: Asterales, Family: Compositae. The genus Saussurea comprises about 300 species in the world (Bremer, 1994) of which 61 species are found in India.
The plant is cultivated as a medicinal plant. Its growing region occurs mainly within India-Himachal Pradesh, Jammu-Kashmir- its native place of origin. A study by Parmaret. al. 2012 explored the effect of altitude on seed germination and survival percentage, proving that high altitudes favoured high survival and seed germination percentages. This is why they thrive so abundantly in the Himalayan Region which is very mountainous. Cultivation is primarily focused upon the roots of the plants. Most of the roots are exported to China and Japan and as they serve as a big commodity for commerce in Kashmir. However, this type of trade is now being controlled by the state due to it being over-exploited. This plant has been greatly over-collected and has been placed on Appendix I of CITES.
In Ayurveda, the name Kushta refers to an ancient Vedic plant god mentioned in the Atharvaveda as a remedy for takman
, the archetypal disease of excess or jvara (fever). In ancient India, Kushta was considered to be a divine plant derived from heavenly sources, growing high in the Himalayas, considered to be the brother of the divine Soma. In Ayurveda, Kushta is a rasayana for Vata, helping to normalize and strengthen digestion, cleanse the body of toxic accumulations, enhance fertility, and reduce pain. Its dried powder is the principal ingredient in an ointment for ulcers; it is also a hair wash.