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Chirayata: Swertia chirayita

Encourages the secretion of bile that promotes digestion as well as improves appetite

Useful in hemorrhoids and other problems of anal region

A good source of trace elements and electrolytes

Useful in management of Diabetes mellitus

Useful in edema and related conditions


Common Name:
Chiretta

Sanskrit Name:

  • Kirat: As it mostly grow in wild forests
  • Kiratatikta: Means a plant with Tikta (Bitter) taste which grows in wild forests
  • Chirayata:

Lt. Name:
Swertia chirayita – Gentianaceae

Bio energetics:

  • Rasa (Taste) – Tikta (Bitter)
  • Guna (Characteristics) – Laghu (Light); Ruksha (Un- unctuous)
  • Veerya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)
  • Vipaka (Post digestion effect) – Katu (Pungent)

Chemical composition of Chirayata Powder:

The plant contains the two bitter principles, ophelic acid and chiratin. The latter occurs in the larger proportion, and yields, by boiling with hydrochloric acid, chiratogenin and ophelic acid, but no sugar. Neither ophelic acid nor chiratin has been obtained in crystals. The ash of chirata yields carbonates and phosphates of calcium, potassium, and magnesium. Tannin is almost entirely absent. A crystalline, yellow, waxy body in small amount, as well as the ordinary plant constituents, abound. Two bitter principles occur, discovered by Höhn in 1869. These bodies are ophelic acid (C13H20O10), and chiratin(C26H48O15), the former being in largest amount. Ophelic acid is a hygroscopic, non-crystalline, yellow, viscid body, having an odor faintly suggestive of gentian, and an acidulous, bitter taste which is persistent. Water, ether, and alcohol dissolve it. Basic lead acetate precipitates it yellow. Chiratin forms an insoluble compound with tannic acid (ophelic acid does not), and may be removed by means of that acid. It is a pale-yellow, indistinctly crystalline powder. Alcohol, ether, and warm water dissolve it, and yet, though hygroscopic, it is not readily soluble in cold water. Its taste is extremely bitter, and its behavior to litmus neutral. Boiled with hydrochloric acid it splits into ophelic acid, water, and chiratogenin (C13H24O3), a bitter, amorphous, brown body, not soluble In water, but freely so in alcohol. It is unaffected by tannin.

Effect of Chirayata Powder on Tridoshas:

Chirayata balances all the three Doshas specially Kapha and Pitta; so it can be used effectively ­in all diseases specially which originate from Kapha/ Pitta or Kapha Pitta aggravation.

Home Remedial Uses of Chirayata Powder in Ayurveda:

  • Saraka: It enables the liver for better secretion of bile juices this makes Chiretta one of the best Ayurveda herb for liver cleansing
  • Dahanut: By expelling the bile juices out of liver it also helps in balancing the Pitta Dosha in body as liver is the main site of action of Pitta Dosha. Pitta is the fire component of body. Thus by balancing the Pitta Dosha Chiretta alleviates the burning sensation.
  • Shwas Kasanut: Chirayata is useful in Asthma and cough
  • Kushtha Pranut: Our skin and liver are the specific organs which are directly regulated by the Pitta Dosha; this is the reason liver diseases show their manifestation in skin and vice versa.
  • Shotha Pranuta: Fluid metabolism of body is also regulated by the liver so Chiretta is a good dietary supplement for fluid retention
  • Arsha Hara: When the liver function will be normal; it will alleviate pressure from the veins in anus so Chiretta is also one of the best Ayurvedic herb for piles

Research done on Chirayata:

  • An attempt has been made to analyze some trace elements and electrolytes like Zn, Cu, Mn, Fe, Co, Na, K, Ca, and Li present in the Swertia chirayita roots and leaves Powder. The concentration of Ca in all the samples was more than 1,346.0 mg/kg and the concentration of other elements was found in the order K>Ca>Fe>Na>Mn>Zn>Co>Cu>Li in different samples of Swertia Chirayita.
    • Jagmohan S. Negi, Pramod Singh, M. S. M. Rawat and Geeta J. nee Pant Department of Chemistry, HNB Garhwal University, Srinagar Garhwal, P. O. Srinagar—246 174, Uttarakhand, India
  • The effect of aqueous extract of Swertia chirayita stem on the pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines balance in primary joint synovium of adjuvant-induced arthritic mice has been studied. The level of pro-inflammatory cytokines was found elevated in the joint synovium of arthritic mice in comparison to normal joints. Administration of S. chirayita extract in varying doses through the oral route did not modulate the proinflammatory cytokines on day 2. In contrast, by day 12, a dose dependent (0, 11.86 and 23.72 mg/kg body weight) reduction of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (INF-alpha) interleukin-1beta, (IL-beta) and interferon-gamma, (IFN-gamma) and elevation of Interleukin-10 (IL-10) was observed in the joint homogenates of arthritic mice. Interleukin-6 (IL-6) was not down regulated in joint homogenate of arthritic mice at the dose 11.86 mg/kg but at higher doses (23.72 and 35.58 mg/kg) significant reduction was observed. The aqueous extract was found to possess two polar compounds, amerogentin and mangiferin but was devoid of swerchirin, chiratol, methyl swetianin, and swertanone. Mangiferin has been reported to possess potent anti-inflammatory property and it is presumed that its presence in the aqueous extract of S. chirayita is responsible for reducing TNF-alpha, IL-1beta, IL-6, and IFN-gamma and/or elevating IL-10 in the joint homogenates of arthritic mice on day 12. This study will help in our understanding of the mechanism of anti-inflammatory action of S. chirayita in the light of proinflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokine balance.
  • Swertia chirayita mediated modulation of interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, interleukin-10, interferon-gamma, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha in arthritic mice.kumar IV, Paul BN, Asthana R, Saxena A, Mehrotra S, Rajan G.Immunobiology Laboratory, Industrial Toxicology Research Centre, Mahatma Gandhi Marg, Lucknow, India.
  • Hypoglycemic activity of Swertia chirayita Powder (Roxb ex Flem) Karst. Chandrasekar B, Bajpai MB, Mukherjee SK. Central Drug Research Institute, Lucknow, India.
  • Hexane fraction of S. chirayita Powder (250 mg/kg body wt.) induced significant fall in blood sugar and significant increase in plasma IRI simultaneously after single oral administration without influencing liver glycogen concentration in albino rats. On the other hand, daily administration for 28 days resulted in significant lowering of blood sugar and increase in plasma IRI along with a significant rise in liver glycogen. Intestinal absorption of glucose was not inhibited by hexane fraction. It is suggested that hexane fraction of S. chirayita possibly acts through its insulin releasing effect.
  • Laboratory tests with animals having excessive baseline blood sugar levels have demonstrated diminished blood sugar levels following healing with chiretta Powder. On the contrary, animals do not demonstrate such decrease in the blood sugar levels provided they already have low levels to begin with. This difference in results in treatment with chiretta provides an indication that the herb may perhaps be beneficial in regulating blood sugar levels without the perils of developing hypoglycemia owing to any excessive dosage of the herbal medication. Additional animal studies with chiretta have discovered that this herb is more effectual in regulating blood sugar levels compared to the regular anti-diabetic drug Orinase (Tolbutamide).
  • The astringent flavor of chiretta Powder sets of an impulsive response that promotes the production of saliva and gastric enzymes. This reflex reaction owing to the use of the herb not only stops nausea (queasiness), but also helps to cure indigestion, bloating and hiccups. In addition, chiretta also encourages the secretion of bile that promotes digestion as well as improves appetite.
  • Swertia chiretta Powder has an attractive chemistry that is to a great extent akin to gentian (Gentiana lutea), a widely used healing tonic for the digestive system. The plant also encloses xanthones that are supposedly effectual against malaria and tuberculosis. In addition, chiretta also contains amarogentin - a glycoside that perhaps fortifies the liver against toxicity caused by carbon tetrachloride. The entire herb possesses therapeutic properties and the bitter digestive tonic obtained from it is considered to be an effective medication for lessening fevers as well as stimulants. As discussed earlier, this herb also has a valuable impact on the liver, encourages the flow of bile and heals constipation. It is also beneficial for curing dyspepsia.
  • Chirayata Powder is a valuable bitter tonic. It is laxative and an appetizer. It also corrects the disordered process of nutrition and restores the normal function of the system.
  • Chirayatra Powder is an effective drug for reducing fevers. It is especially beneficial in the treatment of malarial fevers. It is also effective in hysteria and convulsion.
  • The herb is an excellent drug for strengthening the stomach and promoting its action. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia and diarrhea.
  • Chirayata Powder possesses anthelmintic that is, worms destroying properties and is used in killing intestinal worms. An infusion of the herb is taken for this purpose.

Precautions while taking Chirayata Powder:

Chiretta Powder should be avoided by people with gastric or duodenal ulcers. This herb is considered safe when taken as prescribed. Do not medicate yourself with this herb; only use it under the supervision of a qualified practitioner.

Useful part of Chirayata:

Whole plant

Doses of Chirayata Powder:

Decoction: 50-100 ml; Powder: 1-3 gm

Some combinations of Chirayata Powder in Ayurveda:

Sudarshana Churna; Kiratadi Kwath


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