Chirayata, also known as Indian gentian is a robust annual herb which grows unto about 1.5 meters in height. it has leaves in opposite pairs about 10 cms long, without stalks, pointed at the rip. The plant has numerous flowers, pale green in colour, tinged with purple, with long white or pink hairs and minute sharp pointed fruits. The whole plant, collected in its flowering stage and dried, constitutes the drug. The trade name chirayata is based on the local name of the plant. It has long been used by the Aurvedic physicians as a bitter tonic.
The plant contains a bitter glycoside chiratin, which yields on hydrolysis, two bitter principles, ophdic acid and chiratin. The latter is soluble in water. The ophdic acid is a brown hydroscopic substance which is soluble in water and alcohol. It also contains resin, tannin and 4 to 8 per cent of ash.
Chirayata is a valuable bitter tonic. It is laxative and an appetizer. It also corrects the disordered process of nutrition and restores the normal function of the system.
Chirayata is an effective drug for reducing fevers. It is specially beneficial in the treatment of malarial fevers. It is also effective in hysteria and convulsions.
The herb is an excellent drug for strengthening the stomach and promoting its action. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia and diarrhoea.
Chirayata possesses anathematic, that is, worms destroying, properties and is used in killing intestinal worms. An infusion of the herb is taken for this purpose.
It serves as an effective tonic in case of general weakness and during convalescence. The infusion of the plant can be taken in doses of 60 ml or 4 tablespoons twice a day, before meals.
Preparation and Doses: The herb is used in the form of an infusion or tincture. The infusion is prepared in hot water with aromatics like cloves and cinnamon. It is generally taken in doses of 15 to 30 ml or 1 to 2 tablespoons.
Hiccups: The root of the plant is useful in checking hiccups and vomiting. It is taken in doses of 0.5 to 2 grams with honey.