Saussurea (Lappa) Costus Root (Qist al-Hindi)

Saussurea (Lappa) Costus Root (Qist al-Hindi)

Saussurea costus is classified as a perennial, with typical growth of 1–2 m (3.3–6.6 ft) tall by 1 m (3.3 ft) wide. It has long lyrate leaves and heads of purple florets. The leaves take the shape of being auricled at the base, with jagged, toothed patterns running down the sides of the leaves, and are an average of 0.50–1.25 m (1.6–4.1 ft) long.
Qist Al Hindi, Costus, or Saussurea costus is an herbal plant that grows in the high valleys of Kashmir and the Himalayas. It has a large number of names in other languages, including "kuṣṭha" in Sanskrit; 
"kust" or "qust" in Arabic and Persian; 
"kut", "kur" and "pachak" in Hindi and Bengali, 
"kostum", "gostham" and "potchuk" in Tamil; 
"upaleta" and "kur" in Gujarati; "kot" or "kust" in Punjabi; 
"changala" in Telugu; "sepuddy" in Malayalam; "kostha" in Kannada; 
"kuth" or "postkhai" in Kashmiri; and "kosht" (קשט) in Hebrew; "koto" in Swahili.
The roots of the plant are stout and can travel up to 40 cm (16 in) in length.
Costus root has a bitter smell in a yellow or light brown color. There are two types of Costus roots. Both come in the form of a dried root and both provide amazing healing benefits:
• "Qist al-Bahri", which is lighter in color and milder.
• "Qist al-Hindi", which is darker in color and has a stronger flavor.

Abu Bakr ibn al ‘Arabee stated:

‘Qust (Qist, Costus) is of two types: Hindi (Indian) - which is black, and Bahree which is white. Al-Qust al-Hindi is hotter than al-Bahri.”

Ummu Qays bint Mihsan said: I heard the Messenger of Allah - صلى الله عليه وسلم - say:

It is upon you to use ‘Al-‘Uood al-Hindi’ [i.e. Qust/Costus], for indeed it contains seven cures; it is inhaled through the nostrils to relive throat aches/tonsillitis and placed in the sides of the mouth for the relief of Dhaat al-Janb [1]

Collected by Bukhari and Muslim.


In another narration that will be explained after two chapters:

I approached the Prophet - صلى الله عليه وسلم - with a son of mine while pressing his tonsils due to tonsillitis, so he said:

You should use al-Qust al-Hindee.

Collected by Bukhari and Muslim


Al-Imam Ahmad and the authors of the Sunnan collected a Hadeeth on the authority of Jabir that the Messenger of Allah - صلى الله عليه وسلم – said:

If a child is inflicted with tonsillitis or a headache, then let his mother take al-Qust al-Hindi, scrub it with water and let him inhale it as droplets through his nostrils.


In a Hadeeth narrated by Anas that will be explained after two chapters he said:

The best thing to cure yourselves with is Hijamah and al-Qust al-Bahri.


It is understood from this Hadeeth that it is a cure for all pains, al-Qust al-Hindi is used when hot medicine is needed for treatment, and al-Bahri was described as milder, because al-Hindi is hotter than al-Bahri as has already been explained.

His statement:

For indeed it has seven cures...


Al-Qust Al-Hindi is darker and hotter than Al-Qist Al-Bahri.

In this Hadeeth, only two types of cures were mentioned and not seven, so either the narrator sufficed himself with mentioning only two while all seven were mentioned by the Messenger, or the Messenger mentioned only two due to being the only two of the seven in existence at the time. The second possibility seems to be stronger as will be explained shortly.

Doctors have mentioned that from the benefits of al-Qust are:

 It eases the menstrual flow.

 It eases the flow of urine.

 It kills worms in the bowels.

 It repels poison.

 It repels fever.

 It heats the stomach.

 It increases sexual desire.

 It removes facial spots.


So more than seven cures were mentioned, some scholars explained that seven cures were known through revelation, and the rest through experience, so only seven were mentioned because of their certainty. Other scholars said that he only mentioned what was needed because he was not sent with the details of such issues.


Al-Qust Al-Bahri is lighter in color.

I say [al-Hafidh]:

There is a possibility that the ‘seven’ mentioned in the Hadeeth are seven methods which are the basis of how it is used as treatment; because it is either rubbed in, drank, Takmeed, Tandheel, breathed in as a smoke [incense], inhaled as liquid drops through the nostrils or placed at the sides of the mouth.

Rubbing it in is done by mixing it with oil and creams until it is smooth, likewise is Takmeed.

To drink it, it is crushed into a powder and mixed with honey, water or other liquids, likewise is Tanteel.

It is inhaled by mixing it with oil and putting droplets of it in the nostrils.

Inhaling it as smoke is clear.

With each method, there are different healing benefits, and such eloquence, coming from one who was given Jawami al Kalim[2], should not be surprising.

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