A large, erect, perennial plant up to 2m (6ft) high with a thick tapering root and numerous almost black flowers.
Ethenomedicinal Practice: The root has been used for millennia in India and China for digestive complaints, respiratory conditions, as a stimulant and for infection including typhoid and cholera. It is also used as an incense.
Oil Extraction Process: The dried roots are macerated in warm water, then subjected to steam distillation followed by solvent extraction of the distilled water. (A concrete and absolute are also produced in small quantities.)
Characteristics and Constituents: Mainly sesquiterpene lactones, including dihydrocostus lactone and constunolide (together up to 50%), other sesquiterpenes such as costols, caryophyllene and selinene, as well as costic and oleic acids, among others. A pale yellow or brownish viscous liquid of soft, woody-musty, extremely tenacious odour. It blends well with patchouli, opopanax, ylang ylang, oriental and floral fragrances.
Actions and Uses: Antiseptic, antispasmodic, antiviral, bactericidal, carminative, digestive, expectorant, febrifuge, hypotensive stimulant, stomachic, tonic.
Fixative and fragrance component in cosmetics and perfumes.
Plant Parts Used: Roots