• Name : Chirayata
  • English Name :Chireta
  • Scientific Name :Swertia chiretta



Kiratatikta consists of whole plant of Swertia chirata, a small, erect, annual, herbaceous plant, 0.6-1. 25 m high, found in temperate Himalayas at an altitude between 1200-3000 m from Kashmir to Bhutan and Khasia Hills in Meghalaya, drug collected when flowering (July-October) and dried.1


Morphology Description (Habit):

Drug consists of whole plant, a peculiar shining yellowish tinge all over the herb in fresh sample.

Stem - up to 1 m long and 6 mm in diameter, glabrous, yellowish-brown to purplish, slightly quadrangular above and cylindrical below, large, continuous, easily separable yellow pith, leaf, opposite, cauline, broad at base, ovate or lanceolate, entire, acuminate, glabrous, usually with 5-7 prominent lateral veins, branching from the axils of the leaves which ramify further into paniculate inflorescence.

Flower - tetramerous, 2-3 mm wide, ovoid, with two glandular depressions near the base of each of corolla lobes, ovary, superior, bicarpellary, unilocular, ovoid and pointed.

Fruit - a capsule with numerous, minute reticulated seed, 0.25-0.55 mm long, 0.16-0.45 mm broad irregularly ovoid.1


Parts Used:

Whole Plant



The chief bioactive constituents of plant are xanthones, flavonoids, iridoids, secoiridoids glycosides, which play momentous role in its biological activities like antidiabetic, anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, antioxidant, antipyretic, antimalarial, analgesic, anticarcinogenic, antibacterial, antiviral, gastroprotective, antileishmanial and antihelmnthic.2


As per Ayurveda:

           Rasa (Taste)                 : Bitter

           Guna (Property)           : Light, rough

           Veerya (Potency)         : Cold

           Vipaka (End Result)      : Pungent


Pharmacological Actions:

Swertia chirata is a plant with bitter taste used since an early date in traditional medical systems of our country for treatment of varied human ailments. In Ayurveda, the plant is used as stomachic, febrifuge, antihelminthic, diuretic as well as for treatment of some types of mental disorders.3

Chirayita is Kaphapittahara. The primary pharmacological actions of this herb are summarized as under:


Central Nervous System:

i. Exhibits protective effect against cerebral infarction because of free radical-scavenging and natural neuroprotective compounds.4


Respiratory System:

i. Useful in the management of Asthma.


Digestive System:

i. Swertia chirata exhibits gut excitatory and inhibitory effects, mediated through cholinergic and Ca(2+) antagonist mechanisms, respectively, as well as bronchodilatation, via Ca(2+) channel blockade. Thus, this study provides a sound mechanistic background for the therapeutic application of Swertia chirata in gut motility disorders, such as constipation, colic, and diarrhea, and airways hyperactivity disease, such as asthma.5

ii. Possesses in vitro and in vivo antioxidant effects. This supports the traditional use of Swertia chirayita in Tibetan medicine to cure liver diseases.6


Endocrinal System: 

i. Possesses α-glucosidase and 2,2-diphenyl-1-picrylhydrazyl radical inhibitory activity indicating anti-hyperglycemia potential.7


Musculoskeletal System: 

i. Possesses anti-inflammatory activity and is useful in arthritis.8

ii. Swertia chirata possesses evident analgesic and anti-inflammatory activities. The results signify the traditional uses of Swertia chirata, for inflammation and pain.9


Skin and Hair: 

i. Exhibits antimicrobial activity; the most significant antimicrobial activity has been observed against Staphylococcus aureus which reflects it potentiality to be used in skin infections.10



i. Exhibits significant antioxidant activity.11

ii. Swertia chirata possesses antiviral properties against Herpes simplex virus type-1.12

iii. Possesses chemopreventive potential.13



Liver disorders

Type 2 Diabetes mellitus


Musculoskeletal inflammations





1. The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part-1, Vol-1.

2. Patil K, Dhande S, Kadam VR. Therapeutic Swertia chirata ? An overview. Research Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry. 2013; 5(4): 199-207.

3. Saha P, Das S. Highlighting the anti-carcinogenic potential of an ayurvedic medicinal plant, Swertia Chirata. Asian Pac J Cancer Prev. 2010;11(6):1445-9.

4. Shi GF, Wang GY, Chen XF. Screening of radical-scavenging natural neuroprotective antioxidants from Swertia chirayita. Acta Biol Hung. 2013 Sep;64(3):267-78.

5. Khan AU, Rahim A, Iqbal Z, Gilani AH. Insights into mechanisms underlying the gut and airways modulatory effects of Swertia chirata. J Nat Med. 2012 Jan;66(1):140-8.

6. Chen Y, Huang B, He J, et al. In vitro and in vivo antioxidant effects of the ethanolic extract of Swertia chirayita. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jun 22;136(2):309-15.

7. Phoboo S, Pinto Mda S, Barbosa AC, et al. Phenolic-linked biochemical rationale for the anti-diabetic properties of Swertia chirayita (Roxb. ex Flem.) Karst. Phytother Res. 2013 Feb;27(2):227-35.

8. Kumar P, Paul B, Kumar S, Ali M, Sexana AK. Correlation of cytokine and mobility in mice with arthritis and during therapy with Swertia chirayita. J Herb Pharmacother. 2004;4(2):33-45.

9. Das SC, Bhadra S, Roy S, et al. Analgesic and Anti-inflammatory Activities of Ethanolic Root Extract of Swertia chirata (Gentianaceae). Jordan Journal of Biological Sciences. 2012; 5(1): 31-36.

10. Alam KD, Ali MS, Parvin S, et al. In vitro antimicrobial activities of different fractions of Swertia chirata ethanolic extract. Pak J Biol Sci. 2009 Oct 1;12(19):1334-7.

11. Singh PP, Ambika, Chauhan SM. Activity-guided isolation of antioxidant xanthones from Swertia chirayita (Roxb.) H. Karsten (Gentianaceae). Nat Prod Res. 2012;26(18):1682-6.

12. Verma H, Patil PR, Kolhapure RM, Gopalkrishna V. Antiviral activity of the Indian medicinal plant extract Swertia chirata against herpes simplex viruses: a study by in-vitro and molecular approach. Indian J Med Microbiol. 2008 Oct-Dec;26(4):322-6.

13. Saha P, Mandal S, Das A, et al. Evaluation of the anticarcinogenic activity of Swertia chirata Buch.Ham, an Indian medicinal plant, on DMBA-induced mouse skin carcinogenesis model. Phytother Res. 2004 May;18(5):373-8.


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