Chitrak – Plumbago zeylanica Benefits, Dose, Side Effects, Research

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.

Leadwort root

Botanical Name– Plumbago zeylanica Linn.
Family – Plumbaginaceae

Vernacular Names

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

Sanskrit synonyms

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

Classical categorization

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

Different varieties

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)

Medicinal qualities

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.

Sanskrit verse

chitraka - Plumbago zeylanica

Therapeutic qualities

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.


Phytochemical and antimicrobial studies
Anticonvulsant activity
Hepato-protective activity

Side effects

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.

Can 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.

With western medicines
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.

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic medicines with Leadwort –
Chitrak Haritaki – used in chronic respiratory conditions
Chitrakadi vati – used in indigestion
Kalyanagulam – used in liver and skin conditions.

Chitraka purification

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.

Vernacular Name
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.

Medicinal benefits
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.

26 thoughts on “Chitrak – Plumbago zeylanica Benefits, Dose, Side Effects, Research”

  1. good informative article sir.
    kindly mention some formulations having chitraka as the main ingredient and their different uses.

  2. hello sir,is plumbago zeylanica [white flowers] is used for antidepressant/ nt? and also cns activity

    • No sir it is not. It is carminative, digestive, useful in hemorrhoids, anti inflammatory, and anti colic.

      • Sir please help me to confirm that the chemical constituent named ‘PLUMBAGIN’ having any CNS activity or not,,,because i have referred many review articles thats shows me that chemical working as anti depressant…

        Hope you will be needy…thank you

    • Sir, its Madam and not sir.
      Here are some cns activity plants:
      > Sesbania grandiflora
      > Adiantus capillus
      > Balanitis roxburghii
      > Argemone mexicana etc.,

  3. I am curious please, is the root the only part of the plant that can be used? It grows like weeds in Florida and is my sons favorite flower – we HAD to plant one for him in our home and his grandfathers home as well. he loves the blue color. thank you

  4. Can this herb be used for ulcerative colitis? Can you please suggest popular brands available in the market.

  5. Hi Sir,

    I am in China now and come to know that this plant flower (white), is a remedy for aurthiritis when used flower extract and applied on knee for 30 minuets!

    Please advise if it’s true !

    • In case of knee stiffness, it is very commonly used both for external application and also for oral intake.

  6. I understand that Plumbago tends to readily absorb metals and heavy metals from the soil which was a reason to discourage its use. Could you clarify since most Indian soils are polluted. Thanks

    • Can you please provide the reference of Plumbago to absorb heavy metals readily?
      For that instance, even Indian mustard also absorbs some metals readily.
      It does not mean that we should stop using it.


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