Chirayata (Swertia chirata)

While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.

Related Terms

  • 1,3,5,8-Tetrahydroxyxanthone, 1,5,8-trihydroxy-3-methoxy-xanthone-8-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 1,5-dihydroxy-3-methoxyxanthone-8-O-beta-D-glucopyranoside, 21-alpha-H-hop-22(29)-en-3-beta-ol, 24-ethylcholest-4-en-3-one, alkaloids, amarogentin, amaroswerin, beta-sitosterol-3beta-D-glucoside, bhuchiretta, bitter iridoid glycosides, bitter stick, carbonates, charayatah, chirat-16-en-3beta,24-diol, Chinese chirata, chiraita, chirata (Hindi), chiratenol, chiratin, chirayata, chirayta, chiretta, ciraaitaa (Nepalese), East Indian balmony, enicoflavine, esvertia de la India (Spanish), flavonoids, gammacer-16-en-3-beta-ol, gammacerane triterpenoid (kairatenol), Gentiana chirata, Gentiana chirayita, Gentianaceae (family), gentianine (gentisin), gentiocrucine, glycosides, gum, Indian bolonong, Indian gentian, irridoids, Jwaran-thakah, kairata, kiraita, kirata, kirata-tikta, kiratatikta (Sanskrit), kiratatiktaka (Sanskrit), kiriath, kiriyattu, Kiryat-charayatah Bhunimba, mahasudarshana churna, mahatita, mangiferin, nila-vembu, nila-vemu, nonacosanylhentriacontanoate, oleanolic acid, Ophelia chirata, ophelic acid, phosphates, pichierenol, Qasabuz-Zarirah, resins, secoiridoids, stigmasterol, swerchirin, sweroside, sweroside 2′-O-3”,3”’,5”-trihydroxy-biphenyl-2”-carboxylic acid ester, swerta-7,9(11)-dien-3-beta-ol, swertanone, Swertia bimaculata, Swertia chirayita, swertiamarin, swertie de l’Inde (French), syringaresinol, terpenoids, tetraoxygenated xanthones (magniferin, 1,5,8-trihydroxy-3-methoxyxanthone, 1-hydroxy-3,5,8-trimethoxyxanthone, and 1-hydroxy-3,7,8-trimethoxyxanthone), triterpenes, triterpenoids, xanthonoids, yin du zhang ya cai.

  • Note: The information in this monograph is limited to Swertia chirata. Several species of Ophelia (O. angustifolia, O. elegans, O. densifolia, O. multiflora, and O. pulchella) and related plants go by the name of chirata in India. These are designated as bill (puharee) chirata, sweet (meetha) chirata, purple (ooda) chirata, and southern (dukhunee) chirata. Chota chiretta, or small chiretta, is the product of Slevogtia orientalis.

Background

  • Swertia chirata is a plant that grows at high elevations in Kashmir, Nepal, and Bhutan. It is an annual plant with yellow flowers that grows to 2-3 feet tall. Today, the plant is threatened with extinction because of poor seed germination and low viability, and efforts are being taken to preserve it.

  • Swertia chirata is known for its bitter taste and has been used in traditional medicine to treat liver disorders, malaria, diabetes, fever, and skin diseases. Swertia chirata is used in Ayurveda, a form of traditional medicine that originated in India, and is thought to help treat liver disorders and malarial fevers. Swertia chirata has also been used in other traditional medicine systems, such as Unani and Siddha.

  • At this time, there is a lack of data to support of the use of Swertia chirata for any condition. Further research is needed before conclusions can be made.

Scientific Evidence

Uses

These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.

No available studies qualify for inclusion in the evidence table.

*Key to grades:

Tradition

The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.

  • Anthelmintic, antibacterial, antidepressant, antifungal, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiparasitic, antiviral, appetite stimulant, asthma, bile flow stimulant, bloating, bowel health, cancer, constipation, diabetes, digestive complaints, dyspepsia (heartburn), exhaustion (after sickness), fever, gastric ulcer, hiccups, indigestion, insecticide, kidney disorders, liver disorders, liver protection, malaria, nausea and vomiting, parasites and worms, skin diseases, stimulant, stomach upset, tonic, tuberculosis, urinary complaints, urinary stones.

Dosing

The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.

Adults (18 years and older)

  • As a tonic, Swertia chirata has been taken by mouth as an infusion or tincture in doses of 5-30 grains with honey three times daily. Swertia chirata has been taken by mouth in hot water with cloves or cinnamon in doses of up to one fluid ounce. Up to two ounces of Swertia chirata has been taken by mouth twice daily before meals.

Children (under 18 years old)

  • There is no proven safe or effective dose for Swertia chirata in children.

Safety

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.

Allergies

  • Avoid if allergic or sensitive to Swertia chirata, its parts, or members of the Gentianaceae family.

Side Effects and Warnings

  • Safety data for Swertia chirata are based on traditional health practice patterns and expert opinion. Reliable research on the safety or efficacy of Swertia chirata is lacking.

  • Avoid if allergic or sensitive to Swertia chirata, its parts, or members of the Gentianaceae family.

  • Avoid in children and in women who are pregnant or breastfeeding, due to a lack of safety data.

  • Swertia chirata may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in people with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist, and medication adjustments may be necessary.

Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

  • There is a lack of scientific evidence on the use of Swertia chirata during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

Interactions

Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.

Interactions with Drugs

  • Swertia chirata may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using medications that may also lower blood sugar. People taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.

  • Swertia chirata may also interact with agents that may be toxic to the liver, agents that may stimulate the central nervous system, agents that may treat urinary stones, antibiotics, anticancer agents, antileishmanial agents, antiobesity agents, antiparasitic agents, antiulcer agents, and antiviral agents.

Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements

  • Swertia chirata may lower blood sugar levels. Caution is advised when using herbs or supplements that may also lower blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may require monitoring, and doses may need adjustment.

  • Swertia chirata may also interact with antibacterial herbs and supplements, anticancer herbs and supplements, antileishmanial agents, antiobesity herbs and supplements, antioxidants, antiparasitic herbs and supplements, antiulcer and gastric acid-reducing herbs and supplements, antiviral herbs and supplements, herbs and supplements that may be toxic to the liver, herbs and supplements that may stimulate the central nervous system, and herbs and supplements that may treat urinary stones.

Author Information

  • This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).

References

Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.

  1. Chaudhuri RK, Pal A, Jha TB. Conservation of Swertia chirata through direct shoot multiplication from leaf explants. PLANT BIOTECHNOLOGY REPORTS 2008;2(3):213-218.
  2. Chaudhuri RK, Pal A Jha TB. Production of genetically uniform plants from nodal explants of Swertia chirata Buch.-Ham. ex Wall. – an endangered medicinal herb. IN VITRO CELLULAR & DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY-PLANT 2007;43(5):467-472.
  3. Chaudhuri RK, Pal A Jha TB. Regeneration and characterization of Swertia chirata Buch.-Ham. Ex Wall. plants from immature seed cultures. SCIENTIA HORTICULTURAE 3-3-2009;120(1):107-114.
  4. Iqbal, Z, Lateef M, Khan MN, et al. Anthelmintic activity of Swertia chirata against gastrointestinal nematodes of sheep. Fitoterapia 2006;77(6):463-465. View Abstract
  5. Koul S, Suri KA, Dutt P, et al. Protocol for in vitro regeneration and marker glycoside assessment in Swertia chirata Buch-Ham. Methods Mol.Biol. 2009;547:139-153. View Abstract
  6. Madhuri S and Pandey G. Some dietary agricultural plants with anticancer properties. PLANT ARCHIVES 2008;8(1):13-16.
  7. Rawat MSM and Dutt KR. Comparison of ethyl acetate extracts of Allium cepa bulbs, Luffa acutangula fruits, Nyctanthes arbostristis leaves, Swertia chirata twigs and Woodfordia floribunda leaves with Silymarin for hepatoprotective activity. PLANT ARCHIVES 2007;7(1):183-186.
  8. Saha P, Mandal S, Das A. Amarogentin can reduce hyperproliferation by downregulation of Cox-II and upregulation of apoptosis in mouse skin carcinogenesis model. Cancer Lett. 12-8-2006;244(2):252-259. View Abstract
  9. Suryawanshi S, Asthana RK, Gupta RC. Assessment of systemic interaction between Swertia chirata extract and its Bioactive constituents in rabbits. Phytother.Res. 2009;23(7):1036-1038. View Abstract
  10. Suryawanshi S, Asthana RK, Gupta RC. Simultaneous estimation of mangiferin and four secoiridoid glycosides in rat plasma using liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry and its application to pharmacokinetic study of herbal preparation. J.Chromatogr.B Analyt.Technol.Biomed.Life Sci. 10-15-2007;858(1-2):211-219. View Abstract
  11. Suryawanshi S, Mehrotra N, Asthana RK. Liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometric study and analysis of xanthone and secoiridoid glycoside composition of Swertia chirata, a potent antidiabetic. Rapid Commun.Mass Spectrom. 2006;20(24):3761-3768. View Abstract
  12. Tamhankar S, Ghate V, Raut A. Molecular profiling of “Chirayat” complex using Inter Simple Sequence Repeat (ISSR) markers. Planta Med. 2009;75(11):1266-1270. View Abstract
  13. Tripathi R, Mohan H, Kamat JP. Modulation of oxidative damage by natural products. FOOD CHEMISTRY 2007;100(1):81-90.
  14. Verma H, Patil PR, Kolhapure RM. 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;26(4):322-326. View Abstract
  15. Wang Z, Ma C, Tang S, et al. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of Swertia herbs by high performance liquid chromatography-diode array detector-mass spectrometry (HPLC-DAD-MS). Chem.Pharm.Bull.(Tokyo) 2008;56(4):485-490. View Abstract

The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.