Botanical Names (Scientific Name ) : Swertia chireta
English Name : chireta
Harvest Seasons : Sep - Feb

Swertia Chiraita

BOTANICAL NAME : Swertia chiraita

LOCAL NAME : Chirayata, Clearing Nut Tree, Bitter Stick,

HABITAT : temperate Himalayan region(Nepal), at  altitudes  above 1200-1500m

GENERAL  INFORMATIONS :  Found in abundance in the foothills of the Himalayas, Chirayita is a medicinal plant extensively  used in Ayurvedic medicine as an appetite stimulant and to aid digestion. It is also used to expel stomach worms and stop vomiting. The herb is an effective remedy for diabetes.


  • The herb stimulates the immune system and helps the body fight infections.
  • Chirayita is helpful in treating gastrointestinal ailments, like food poisoning, diarrhoea and gastro-enteritis.
  • The bitter constituents of the herb work together to lower blood sugar.
  • It contains xanthones which are reputedly effective against malaria and tuberculosis, and also amarogentin, a glycoside that  protects the liver against carbon tetrachloride poisoning.
  • The whole plant is an excellent drug for intermittent fevers, skin diseases ,intestinal worms, bronchial asthma, burning of the body, regulating the bowels.
  •  The root of the plant is useful in checking hiccups and vomiting. It is used in the liquor industry as a bitter ingredient.
  • The plant serves as a bitter tonic, the two main bitter constituents: ophelic acid and chiratin, stimulate gastric juices and bile secretion. They have a positive impact on liver function and help normalize blood sugar.

Chiraita is reported to contain a yellow bitter acid, ophelic acid, two bitter glucosides, chiratin and amarogentin, two yellow crystalline phenols, a neutral, yellow crystalline compound, and a new xanthone, swerchirin. Amarogentin is one of the most bitter substances known1.The herb contains swertanone, swertenol, episwertinol, chiratenol, gammacer-16-en-3ß-ol, 21-a-H-hop-22(29)-en-3ß-ol, taraxerol, oleanolic acid, ursolic acid, swerta-7,9(11)-dien-3ß-ol, pichierenol, besides ß-amyrin, y-taraxasterol, lupeol and erythrodiol. It also yields, 1,3,6,7-tetrahydroxyxanthone-C-2-ß-D-glucoside (mangiferin) having a significant immunomodulatory potential .

The ethanolic extract of S.chirayita exhibits hypoglycemic activity. The hexane fraction containing swerchirin, the main hypoglycemic principle, induced a significant fall in blood sugar in albino rats. The compound have clinical application in control of diabetes4. It also possesses anti-microbial activity against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria. An herbal antiseptic and antifungal Veterinary ointment Melicon V is prepared from the herb5. The extract of the plant exhibits a significant anti-inflammatory activity. The plant extract shows anti-leishmanial activity against Leishmania donovani in golden hamsters6.


1.        Prasad et. al., loc. cit.; Dalal & Shah, Chem. & Ind.,1956, 664; Bose, J. Indian chem. Soc.,1960, 37, 6532.

2.        Chakravarty & Mukhopadhyay, Indian J Chem, 1992, 31B, 70; Chakravarty et. al., Phytochemistry, 1991, 30, 4087;

3.        Asthana et. al., ibid, 1991, 30, 1037; Ghosal, Indian J Indigenous Med, 1991, 8(1), 3; Chem Abstr, 1991, 114, 139828; Fevre-Bonvin et. al., J Nat Prod, 1988, 51, 9773. Asthana et. al., Phytochemistry, 1991, 30, 10374.

4.        Chandrasekar et. al., Indian J Exp Biol, 1990, 28, 616; 6 Saxena et. al., ibid, 1993, 31, 178; Bajpai et. al., Planta Med, 1991, 57, 102 5.

5.        Pandey et. al., J Res Ayurv Siddha, 1991, 12 (1 & 2) 33; Leslie & Jolly, Indian Drugs, 1988, 25, 143; Pandya et. al., ibid, 1991, 28, 225; Mukherjee, Fitoterapia, 1991, 62, 1976.

6.        Mandal et. al., Fitoterapia, 1992, 63, 122; Singha et. al., Int J Pharmacongn, 1992, 30, 289.


Botanical Name: Swertia chiraita 

Common Name: Chiraitao, Tite, Khuple,Timda 

Family: Gentianaceae,

Parts Used: Whole Plant,

Description: This plant is distributed in temperate region of Nepal between 800-2000 M altitude. Mostly collected and even cultivated in eastern part of the country. It is an annual herb 1-1.5m tall flowers white or pale green of yellowish. Its flowering fruiting time is July to November. The collection of plant starts since beginning of mid of October till end of November. 

The collected plants are dried in the sun. Sometime in high hill areas where temperature is very low it is dried on smoke too. Due to which a smoky smell attaches with its natural smell and the color becomes dark due to smoke.

Active Compounds:The plant is bitter due nto ophelic and chiratin, a yello bitter glucoside, other compounds are resins, gum, carbonates and phosphates of potash, lime and magnesia, ash 4 to 6 p.c.

Medicinal Properties: Bitter tonic, stomachic, febrifuge and anthelmintic, appetizer,laxative, alterative, antidiarrhoeic and antiperiodic.

Uses: This herb is used mostly to treat intermittent fevers, skin diseases, intestinal worms, bronchial asthma, burning of the body, regulating the bowels, dyspepsia and skin diseases.