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Costus: Vermifuge with a Difference


Costus is a medicinal plant that grows in the high valleys of Kashmir and some other parts of the Himalayas. It is usually found in moist shady locales, sometimes as the undergrowth in birch forests. Costus root is used extensively in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine, and has been a minor product of Arabian traditional medicine for several millennia.

The Greek geographer Strabo (about 64 BC – 24 AD) says that costus was not grown in Arabia in his era and had to be imported, presumably from India. To this day, it is still exported from India to the Gulf countries. However, most of the Indian exports go to China and Japan.

While costus root has culinary and fragrance uses, its medicinal properties are as an anodyne, antibacterial, antispasmodic,  aphrodisiac,  carminative,  emmenagogue,  skin treatment, stimulant,  tonic and vermifuge:

Costus is a commonly used medicinal herb in China and is considered to be one of their 50 fundamental herbs. It is also used in Ayurvedic medicine where it is valued mainly for its tonic, stimulant and antiseptic properties. It is said to be aphrodisiac and to be able to prevent the hair turning grey.

The root is anodyne, antibacterial, antispasmodic, aphrodisiac, carminative, skin, stimulant, stomachic, tonic and vermifuge. It is used internally in the treatment of abdominal distension and pain, chest pains due to liver problems and jaundice, gall bladder pain, constipation associated with energy stagnation, and asthma. The root is harvested in the autumn or spring and either dried for later use or decocted for the essential oil. It is normally used with other herbs.

The root is also used in Tibetan medicine where it is considered to have an acrid, sweet and bitter taste with a neutral potency. It is used in the treatment of swelling and fullness of the stomach, blockage and irregular menses, pulmonary disorders, difficulty in swallowing and rotting/wasting of muscle tissues.
An oil from the root is very beneficial in the treatment of rheumatism.


Environmental scientists in India said in a 2005 study that the cultivation of costus root or kuth was at a standstill, due to economic and other reasons, and the plant was endangered:

Kuth cultivation in [the Himalaya] region is among the interesting examples of domesticating wild medicinal herb by some innovative farmers during the 1920s. However, in the recent past farmers have been less interested to continue this practice due to its larger cultivation cycle, more profits with cash crops like pea and potato, and permit formalities at the time of export from the valley. In addition to being the oldest cash crop in the cold desert environment, Kuth is an endangered medicinal herb that has to be conserved on a priority basis.

Interestingly, costus root has long been used in Arabia and the Gulf as a treatment to encourage the expulsion of demons or evil jinn that have taken possession of humans.

Dr. Abu’l-Mundhir Khaleel ibn Ibraaheem Ameen, in his book The Jinn and Human Sickness: Remedies in the Light of the Qur’aan & Sunnah (Riyadh: 2005),  quotes the Prophet Muhammad in a Hadith as recommending nose drops made from costus root be administered for this purpose:

Nose drops made of Indian costus may be used to annoy a stubborn jinn [who has possessed a person and is not easily expelled]. The patient should take it in through the nose, so that the costus goes straight to the brain where the jinn is located, and he will be greatly annoyed by it, so much so that he will not be able to bear it and will hasten to flee, or he will talk to the practitioner and promise to leave and not come back. The Sunnah mentions the virtues of Indian costus, such as in the report narrated by Al-Bukhaari (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his Saheeh:

It was narrated that Umm Qays bint Mihsan said: I heard the Prophet say:

“You should use the Indian incense [al-‘ud al-hindi] for in it is healing for seven diseases. It may be taken in the form of nose drops for trouble in the throat or given in the side of the mouth for pleurisy.”

Dr. Ameen provides a recipe and procedure for administering anti-jinn nose drops, as follows:

An Uqiyah of Indian costus should be ground to a powder.

In Fath Al-Baari, Ibn Hajar described how to use Indian costus. He said: The patient should be made to lie on his back, and something should be placed beneath his shoulders in order to raise them, so that his head will be tipped back. Drops of olive oil mixed with costus should then be placed in his nose so that they may reach the brain and whatever sickness is present may be expelled by sneezing.

Usually the jinn may be expelled in this fashion….

It is not known if anti-jinn nose drops have ever been produced commercially either in the Indian Subcontinent or the Middle East.


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