Chitrak is one of the powerful digestive and carminative herbs of Ayurveda. It is used in most of the Ayurvedic medicines for indigestion. Its botanical name is Plumbago zeylanica. It is called Leadwort in English.
Botanical Name– Plumbago zeylanica Linn.
Family – Plumbaginaceae
Hindi Name – Cheeta, Chitra, Chitraka, Chita, Chitaraka, Chitavur
Telugu Name – Chitramulamu, Agnimatha, Tellachitra
English Name – Leadwort
Bengali Name – Chita, Chitu
Marathi Name – Chitramul, Chitraka
Gujarati Name – Chitro, Chitra, Pitaro
Tamil Name – Chittiri, chittira, penchitar, kodivel
Arabian name – Sheetaraj
Farsi name – Sheetar
Kannada name – Chitramula, Bilichitramula
Punjabi name – Chitra
Malayalam name – Vellakotuveri, Kotubeli
Anala, Dahana, Pithi, Vahnisajnaka, Agni, Agnika, Jyothi, Nirdahana, Vahni, Sikhi, Vyala, Hutasana – all these synonyms suggest towards fire. It is because it helps to improve digestion strength. While collecting this herb, usually it is found that the palms get burning sensation due to the hotness of this herb. Hence the synonyms like Dahana (burning).
Agnika – “ agnitulyha ushna sparshe veeryam cha, – Having fire quality
Deepaneeya – Group of herbs that improve appetite and digestion strength
Shoola prashamana – group of herbs that relieve abdominal colic pain
Arshoghna – group of herbs used in treating piles
Lekhaneeya – Group of herbs having scraping property.
Susrutha– Pippalyadi, Mustadi, Amalakyadi, Varunadi, Aragvadadi group of herbs.
Vagbhata- Pippalyadi, Mustadi, Varunadi, Aragvadadi group of herbs.
Bhavaprakasha Nighantu – Haritakyadi varga
Raja Nighantu – Pippalyadi varga
Vagbhata quoted three varieties namely Shweta (white), Peeta (yellow) & Asita (black) Citraka.
Usually the following varieties are found
P. zeylanica- White;
P . rosea L. –Red and
P. capensis Thunk- Blue.
For all therapeutic purposes, Plumbago zeylanica or the white variety is used.
Found throughout India. It is also cultivated at some places.
Major chemical constituents
Chitranone, Plumbagin, 3- Chloroplumbagin, droserone, Elliptinone, Zeylanone and Zeylinone, Maritone, Plumbagicacid, Dihydrosterone, B- Sitosterol etc.
(Reference: Illustrated Dravyaguna Vijnana, Vol. II, by Dr JLN Shastry)
Rasa (taste) – Katu (pungent)
Guna (qualities) – Laghu (lightness), Rooksha (dryness) Teekshna (piercing, strong)
Veerya– Ushna (hot potency)
Vipaka– Katu – undergoes pungent taste conversion after digestion.
Effect on Tridosha
Because of its hotness, it balances Vata and Kapha Doshas.
Part used, dosage
Part used- Root Bark
Dosage– Powder 1-2 grams in divided dose per day, is the maximum prescribed dose.
Therapeutic qualities of Plumbago zeylanica –
Of all the herbs that are carminative, digestive, useful in hemorrhoids, anti inflammatory, and anti colic, leadwort is the best.
It is used for anti aging purpose. For this, the herb is administered along with milk / ghee and honey or with ghee alone for one month.
For balancing Vata, it is administered along with sesame oil.
It is administered along with cow urine for the treatment of leucoderma.
We have learnt that it is administered along with buttermilk as a home remedy for hemorrhoids.
Vahnikrut – Improves digestion strength
Pachana – digestive
Laghu – light to digest
Grahanihara – relieves sprue, malabsorption syndrome,
Kushtahara – useful in skin diseases
Shothahara – anti inflammatory
Kruminut – useful in intestinal worm infestation
Kasanut – useful in cough, cold
Grahi – absorbent, absorbs excess moisture from intestines
Vatarsha – useful in hemorrhoids of Vata origin (with pain)
It is used in the treatment of amenorrhoea.
It is used in the treatment of hepatomegaly and splenomegaly.
Red variety of Chitraka is Sthula Kayakara – because it improves appetite, it helps to gain weight.
It is not safe to take during pregnancy.
It may cause or worsen heavy periods
In higher dose, it causes excessive burning sensation, worsening of gastritis and may cause neuropathy.
Ayurveda uses Chitraka in various forms such as herbal powder, paste for external and internal use, herbal tea, decoction, hot and cold infusion, linctus, fermented liquid, herbal ghee and oils.
Interaction with medicines, supplements
Can this be used while taking Homeopathic medicine?
Yes. This product does not react with homeopathic medicine.
this medicine be continued while taking supplements like multivitamin tablets,
Omega 3 fatty acids etc?
Yes. Generally, this product goes well with most of the dietary supplements. However, if you are taking more than one product per day, please consult your doctor for an opinion.
Seek your doctor’s advice if you are taking this product along with other western (allopathic / modern) medicines. Some Ayurvedic herbs can interact with modern medicine.
If both Ayurvedic and allopathic medicines are advised together, then it is best to take Allopathic medicine first, wait for 30 minutes and then take the Ayurvedic medicine.
Chitraka Shodhana – purification method –
Usually purification procedure is not followed. But some authors have mentioned about Shodhana for red variety of Chitraka (Rakta Chitraka) –
Chitraka roots are cut into small pieces. They are kept immersed in 3 – 4 % of lime water for 3 hours. Then it is taken out, and again immersed in fresh lime water for another 3 hours. The process is repeated for three times.
Some have mentioned to keep it immersed for three days, each day, changing the lime water.
Chitraka as rejuvenator
Chitraka as anti ageing and rejuvenation medicine:
Ashtanga Hrudaya explains Chitraka as anti ageing and rejuvenating medicine.
Chitrak root powder when consumed along with ghee and sesame oil for 1 year, makes the person live for 100 years.
Chitraka root with buttermilk – oral intake is explained as a remedy for hemorrhoids.
Chitraka root with sesame oil is advised as a remedy for all Vata disorders (neurological disorders)
Chitrak with cow urine is advised as a remedy for leucoderma. (Ashtanga Hrudaya Uttaratantra Rasayana chapter).
Plumbago zeylanica is a perennial herb with glabrous, climbing, erect stem. The leaves are petiolate or sessile. The leaves are thin, ovate, entire, glabrous with length up to 4 cm. Petiole is narrow. Flowers have white corollas 17–33 mm in diameter, have elongated spikes. Capsules are 7.5–8 mm long with reddish brown seeds. Stems are woody, spreading and striate. Capsules are long, narrowly tubular.
Sub varieties of Chitraka
Raktha Chitraka – red variety
Botanical Name- Plumbago rosea Linn.
Family – PLUMBAGINACEAE
Hindi Name – Lal cheetha, Lal chitraka, Lal chitavur
Bengali Name- lal chithaa, raktho chitho
Marathi Name – laal chitraka
Kannada Name– kempu chitramoola
Malayalam Name- chekikotuveri
English Name – Rose colored lead wort
Telugu Name – Yerrachitramoolam
Tamil Name – Shivappu chitramoolam, Chiturmol, Kodimooli
It is found in Sikkim.
It is stronger when compared to Plumbago zeylanica. It is a well known digestive and carminative herb.
It is used for rasayana – Anti aging and rejuvenation therapies.
In a small dose of 500 mg to 1 gram it acts as stimulant. In higher doses it may exhibit toxic effects.
Neela chitraka – Blue variety
Botanical name – Plumbago capensis Thumb
Its flowers are whitish blue in color.
This plant is generally found in South Africa.