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Chirata – Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions and More!

By Dr Rajeev Singh +2 more

The content has been written by a medical expert.

Introduction: 

Swertia Chirayita, also known as Chirata is a herb that is traditionally used to treat a variety of conditions like malaria, diabetes, and liver disorders.

Swertia Chirata Known as bitter Stick Fruits and seed

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 

Properties of Chirata: 

Chirata has been used by different native population groups in several ways for various purposes. Chirata is used in Ayurveda, Unani, and Siddha medicine to cure various health conditions.4,5 

  • It may have liver-protecting properties.
  • It may help to maintain normal blood sugar levels and is effective in treating diabetes.  
  • It may be helpful in the treatment of asthma and shortness of breath. 
  • It may have wound healing properties.  
  • It may have beneficial properties for anemia.  
  • It may have immune boosting properties. 
  • It may have blood pressure controlling properties.  
  • It may be able to boost appetite.    

Potential Uses of Chirata 

Chirata is a plant with high potential value that may helpful in several ailments.2 

Potential Uses of Chirata for Digestion:  

Chirata may be 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 However, studies available are insufficient to validate these effects of chirata. Therefore, we require more human studies to suggest the benefits of chirata in managing digestion related problems.

Potential Uses of Chirata for Fever:  

Chirata may help to reduce body temperature in fever. The effect of Chirata for fever may be comparable to that of paracetamol. 7 However you must consult a qualified doctor if you have fever as it may be sign of some underlying condition.

Potential Uses of Chirata for Skin:  

Chirata plant can be made into a paste and this paste may be used to treat skin diseases like eczema and acne. The decoction obtained from Chirata may help cure skin rashes. Chirata may also be effective for burning sensations, dryness, and itchy skin. 8 It is however, best to consult a dermatologist for their opinion before applying anything on your skin.

Also Read: 16 Home Remedies for Glowing Skin

Based on my experience, I have observed that a combination of chirayita and sunthi might be effective in tackling chronic oedema, which is characterized by the accumulation of fluid in the body tissues. The mixture is prepared using punarnava decoction, which aids in reducing oedema.

Dr. Siddharth Gupta, B.A.M.S, M.D (Ayu)

Potential Uses of Chirata Against Parasites:  

Chirata may contain anti-parasitic properties which may help eliminate helminths (parasitic worms) and other parasites. This plant may help eradicate roundworms, flukes, and tapeworms. Chirata may also relieve symptoms associated with worm infections like diarrhea and liver diseases. 9 Consult your doctor for treatment and advice for worm infestation.

Potential Uses 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. This may indicate the effectiveness of Chirata for these conditions, but the studies available seem insufficient thus, consult a qualified doctor if you have conditions like stress, convulsions and axiety.10 

Over the years, I have learned that S. chirata might possess hemagglutination activity at higher concentrations, which may cause mild protein denaturation. I have also noticed that this herb has blood purifying properties and may have the potential to dissolve blood clots. These effects could be attributed to the interaction between certain compounds in S. chirata and proteins in the blood.

Dr. Rajeev Singh, BAMS

Potential Uses 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 

Also Read: 45 Food Items That Can Help Lower Blood Sugar Levels

Though there are studies that show the potential uses of chirata in various conditions, these are insufficient and there is a need for further studies to establish the true extent of the benefits of chirata on human health.

How to Use Chirata: 

Chirata is available in three forms: 

  • Chirata decoction 
  • Chirata powder 
  • Chirata tablets 
  • Chirata capsules  2 

You may consult your Ayurvedic physician for the form and dosage. In addition, we advise you to not replace or quit your current medications with any herbal preparations made from chirata without talking to a physician or an Ayurvedic doctor.

Side Effects of Chirata: 

No major side effects are observed when Chirata is taken as a flavoring agent in foods. However, there is insufficient information to know if Chirata is safe when used in large amounts.2 Therefore, if you experience any side effects and allergic reaction against chirata, seek immediate medical help from your doctor who has prescribed it to you. They will be the best guide for providing proper treatment to overcome side effects.

Also Read: Karela Jamun Juice Benefits: A Research-Based Guide to its Health Wonders

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.  
  • Never self medicate yourself using any herb and consult a doctor for proper advice.

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 sugar levels. Some diabetic medications include glimepiride, insulin, glyburide, chlorpropamide, tolbutamide, glipizide, etc.5 

Also Read: Nagkesar – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects & More

Hence, one should consult a doctor and disclose all ongoing medications before taking chirata if they take any other drug or supplement.

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Is Chirata Used Only in India? 

The herb is being used in Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh due to its wide range of potential health benefits.10 

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 

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

Which Parts of Chirata are Used for Medicinal Purposes?  

The dried part of the herb or the whole plant is used for its benefical purposes.11

Can Chirata be Used for Weight Loss? 

Chirata contains a compound called methanol which may stimulate weight loss by boosting body metabolism. Thus it may have some beneficial effects for people who want to loose weight. You must consult a nutritionist for better weight loss guidance.12 

Can Chirata be Used as an Appetizer?

Chirata may stimulate the digestive system. It may help with disturbances in nutrition and stabilize the metabolic system. Hence, it can be used as an appetizer.12 However, consult an Ayurvedic physician if you plan to consume chirata as an appetizer.

Can Chirata be Used as a Blood Purifier?  

Chirata may show blood purifying properties and it may thus aid in the quick relief of anemia symptoms.12

Can be Chirata Used for Vomiting? 

The extracts of Chirata can be used with honey to relieve both vomiting and hiccups.12 

Also Read: Shikakai – Uses, Benefits, Side Effects, Precautions & More

References: 

  1. 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 
  1.  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 
  1. 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 
  1. Planet Ayurveda. Kiratatikta, Chirayata (Swertia Chirata)- Practical uses, benefits and dosage. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/library/kiratatikta-swertia-chirata/ 
  1. 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 
  1. Planet Ayurveda. Chirayata- Herbal remedy for stomach. [Internet] Available from: https://www.planetayurveda.com/chirayata/ 
  1. Scientia Pharmaceutica. Antipyretic potential of Swertia Chirata Buch Ham. Root extract. [Internet] Available from: https://www.mdpi.com/2218-0532/77/3/617 
  1. 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 
  1. PubMed. Antihelminthic activity of Swertia chirata against gastrointestional nematodes of sheep. [Internet] Available from: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16815639/ 
  1.  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 
  1. National institute of health and family welfare. Chiraitah. [Internet] Available from: https://www.nhp.gov.in/Chiraitah_mtl 
  1. 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 

Disclaimer:

The information provided here is for educational/awareness purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for medical treatment by a healthcare professional and should not be relied upon to diagnose or treat any medical condition. The reader should consult a registered medical practitioner to determine the appropriateness of the information and before consuming any medication. PharmEasy does not provide any guarantee or warranty (express or implied) regarding the accuracy, adequacy, completeness, legality, reliability or usefulness of the information; and disclaims any liability arising thereof.

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