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Swertia Chirayita, also known as Chirata is a medicinal herb used to treat a variety of conditions like malaria, diabetes, and liver disorders.
This herb is widely distributed in the temperate Himalayas, between Kashmir to Bhutan. Swertia Chirayita is an annual, erect plant that has a height of about 0.5 to 1.5 meters.
It consists of a long erect stem that is covered by a bark. The leaves are opposite, lanceolate, and do not contain any stalks. Swertia Chirayita has several small dark yellowish-flowers with white to pink hair-like sharp-pointed fruits. 1
Nutritional Value of Chirata:
Chirata contains several compounds that contribute to its medicinal value. The compounds include Xanthones, alkaloids, and glycosides. They also consist of ophelic acid, chiratin, steric acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid. Swertanone, amarogenin, and chiratol are other important components present in Chirata. 3
Therapeutic Uses of Chirata:
Chirata has been used by different native population groups in several ways for various therapeutic purposes. Chirata is used in Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha medicine to cure various health conditions. 4,5
- Chirata contains liver-protecting properties. It eliminates toxins from the body and also facilitates the growth of new liver cells.
- This plant helps maintain normal blood sugar levels and is effective in treating diabetes.
- Chirata is helpful in the treatment of asthma and shortness of breath.
- Chirata helps in wound healing and results in the fast healing of cuts and wounds.
- Chirata can be used in cases of anemia to increase the count of red blood cells.
- The root of Chirata is used to cure fever, cough, asthma, pain, common cold, and weakness.
- The leaves and stems of Chirata are soaked in water, made into a paste, and used for high blood pressure and headaches.
- The whole Chirata plant is boiled in water and made into a decoction for treating malaria.
- Chirata can be used in conjunction with other herbal remedies for curing scorpion bites.
- This plant is helpful in excessive vaginal discharge.
- Chirata can also be used to boost appetite.
- Chirata is also effective in the management of tuberculosis.
Benefits of Chirata
Chirata is a plant with high medicinal value. It is helpful in constipation, fever, skin diseases, worm infestations, loss of appetite, cancer, and other ailments. It is being used as a bitter tonic. It is effective in malaria and has anti-inflammatory (reduce swelling) properties.2
Benefits of Chirata for Digestion:
- Chirata is helpful in various problems related to the digestive system like gastritis, indigestion (upset stomach), gas accumulation in the stomach, bloating, heartburn and stomach pain.
- It also contains laxative properties and is helpful in constipation. It is also effective in treating diarrhea. 6
Benefits of Chirata for Fever:
Chirata helps reduce body temperature in fever. The effect of Chirata for fever is comparable to that of paracetamol. 7
Benefits of Chirata for Skin:
- Chirata plant can be made into a paste and used to treat skin diseases like eczema and acne.
- The decoction obtained from Chirata helps cure skin rashes.
- Chirata is effective in burning sensations, dryness, and itchy skin. 8
Also Read: 16 Home Remedies for Glowing Skin
Benefits of Chirata Against Parasites:
Chirata contains anti-parasitic properties which help eliminate helminths (parasitic worms) and other parasites. This plant helps eradicate roundworms, flukes, and tapeworms. Chirata also relieves symptoms associated with worm infections like diarrhea and liver diseases. 9
Benefits of Chirata on the Central Nervous System:
Chirata produces a metabolite called Swertiamartin which is used in the treatment of acute stress and anxiety due to its effect on the central nervous system. It is also effective in convulsions.10
Benefits of Chirata for Diabetes:
Chirata is effective in lowering blood sugar levels by stimulating insulin release and increasing the uptake of glucose by muscle cells. 10
How to Use Chirata:
Chirata is available in three forms:
- Chirata decoction
- Chirata powder
- Chirata tablets
- Chirata capsules
Your Ayurvedic physician will prescribe you the form and dosage according to your health condition, age, and other factors. 2
Side Effects of Chirata:
No side effects are observed when Chirata is taken as a flavoring agent in foods. However, there is no sufficient information to know if Chirata is safe when used in large amounts.2
Precautions & Warnings to be Taken with Chirata:
Chirata is unsafe to use in the following medical conditions:5
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding– No adequate information is present to know whether Chirata is safe to use in pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Intestinal ulcers– It is important to avoid Chirata when having intestinal ulcers as it could worsen the condition.
- Diabetes– In some people, Chirata might result in lower blood sugar levels. It is essential to monitor your blood sugar levels when using Chirata as a remedy.
- Surgery– It is essential to stop taking Chirata at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery. This is because Chirata might hinder blood sugar control during and after a surgical procedure.
Interactions with Other Drugs:
Interaction with Diabetic Medications: These medications are used to lower blood sugar levels. Chirata might also result in lower blood sugar levels. Taking Chirata with these medications might result in further lower blood pressure. Some diabetic medications include glimepiride, insulin, glyburide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, glipizide, etc.5
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) Is Chirata Used Only in India?
The herb is being used in Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh due to its wide range of medicinal uses.10
2) What are the Other Names of Chirata?
Chirata is known by different names like Bhunimba, bitter stick, Chiaravata, Chiraita, Anaryatikta, Chirayta, East Indian Balmony, Gentiana Chirata, Indian Bolonong, Indian Gentian, Kirata, Swertia Chirayita, Kairata, Chiaravata, and Chitetta.2
3) What are the Important Formulations of Chirata?
Some important formulations of Chirata include Ma’joon Juzaam, Jawaarish Jalinus, Roghan-e- Kalan, Roghan-e- Suranjan, Sharbat-e- Bazoori Mo’atadil, and Arq-e- Murakkab Musaffi-e- Khun.11
4) Which Parts of Chirata are Used for Medicinal Purposes?
The dried part of the herb or the whole plant is used for medicinal purposes.11
5) Can Chirata be Used for Weight Loss?
Chirata contains a compound called methanol which stimulates weight loss by boosting body metabolism.12
6) Can Chirata be Used as an Appetizer?
Chirata stimulates the digestive system. It can repair any disturbances in nutrition and stabilize the metabolic system. Hence, it can be used as an appetizer.12
7) Can Chirata be Used as a Blood Purifier?
Yes, Chirata contains blood purifying actions and aids in the quick relief of anemia symptoms.12
8) Can be Chirata Used for Vomiting?
Yes, the extracts of Chirata can be used with honey to relieve both vomiting and hiccups.12
9) What are the Medicinal Properties of Chirata?
Chirata contains antihelminthic (prevention of worm infections), anti-asthmatic, antidiarrheal, abortifacient (inducing abortions), antiflatulent (preventing gas accumulation), antimalarial, antipruritic (relieving itching), antiseptic properties that can help in multiple conditions. It also has hepatoprotective, laxative, blood purifying, anti-leprotic, aphrodisiac (boosting sexual performance), antitussive (cough suppressant), appetizer, anti-inflammatory, astringent (skin tightening), and diuretic (expelling excessive water) properties.11
- Frontiers. A review of Swertia Chirayita (Gentianaceae) is a traditional medicinal plant. [Internet] Available from: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fphar.2015.00308/full#T1
- P. Joshi and V.Dhawan; Swertia chirayita- an overview. Current science. 2005 Aug 89 (4): 635-640 Available from: https://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.532.471&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Prosenjit Saha, Sukta Das; Highlighting the Anti-carcinogenic Potential of an Ayurvedic Medicinal Plant Swertia Chirata. Asian pacific J cancer Prev.- 1445-1449 Available from: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.937.7302&rep=rep1&type=pdf
- Planet Ayurveda. Kiratatikta, Chirayata (Swertia Chirata)- Practical uses, benefits and dosage. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/kiratatikta-swertia-chirata/
- Research gate. Swertia spp.: A Potential Source of High-Value Bioactive Components, Pharmacology, and Analytical Techniques. [Internet] Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/341099930_Swertia_spp_A_Potential_Source_of_High-Value_Bioactive_Components_Pharmacology_and_Analytical_Techniques/link/5eadad3092851cb2676f8f46/download
- Planet Ayurveda. Chirayata- Herbal remedy for stomach. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/chirayata/
- Scientia Pharmaceutica. Antipyretic potential of Swertia Chirata Buch Ham. Root extract. [Internet] Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-0532/77/3/617
- K.P.Sampath Kumar, Debjit Bhowmik, Chiranjib, Biswajit and Margret Chandira; Swertia chirata: A traditional herb and its medicinal uses. Journal of chemical and Pharmaceutical research. 2010, 2(1): 262-266. [Internet] Available from: https://www.jocpr.com/articles/swertia-chirata–a-traditional-herb-and-its-medicinal-uses.pdf
- PubMed. Antihelminthic activity of Swertia chirata against gastrointestional nematodes of sheep. [Internet] Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16815639/
- Peertechz publications. Pharmacognostic and conservational overview of Swertia chirata Buch.- Ham. Ex wall., A Critically endangered Himalayan herb. [Internet] Available from: https://www.peertechzpublications.com/articles/JFSNT-2-104.php
- National institute of health and family welfare. Chiraitah. [Internet] Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/Chiraitah_mtl
- Dr. MD Obydul Hoq; Medicinal importance of Swertia Chirayita in Unani system of medicine. International journal of unani and integrative medicine. 2018, 2(2): 47-51. Available from: https://www.unanijournal.com/articles/33/2-2-6-990.pdf
The information included at this site is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional. Because of unique individual needs, the reader should consult their physician to determine the appropriateness of the information for the reader’s situation.