Family: Asteraceae (Sunflower family)
Botanical name: Saussurea costus
PLANT NAME IN DIFFERENT LANGUAGES
Sanskrit: Kushta, Pushkara, Kashmeeraja, Vapya, Roga, Rucha, Visha
Malayalam: Kottam, Seemakottom
Kottam is a tall perennial herb, well known as a medicinal plant. Stems up to 2 m tall, or more. Lower leaves are long-stalked, pinnate, 30-40 cm long, with a trianglular terminal leaflet, up to 30 cm long. Upper leaves are smaller, up to 30 cm long, stem-clasping. All leaves are irregularly toothed. There is a rounded cluster of a few purple flower-heads at the top of the stem. The flower-heads look like balls covered with purple bracts. Costus is frequently cultivated in the Himalayas as a medicinal plant. It is found in the Himalayas, from pakistan to Himachal Pradesh, at altitudes of 2000-3300m.
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. In India it is also given as a medicine for cough, asthma, fever, and cholera. Its dried powder is the principal ingredient in an ointment for ulcers; it is also a hair wash.