Chirayita is a genus in the gentian family containing plants sometimes referred to as the felworts. Some species bear very showy purple and blue flowers. Many members of this genus have medicinal and cultural purposes. Chirata is a popular medicinal herb native to high altitude regions of the sub-temperate Himalayas ranging from Himalayas to Bhutan. It has a bitter taste and each part of the plant has health benefits.
Chirata helps in weight loss as it increases metabolism and helps in burning more calories. It is also beneficial in managing diabetes by increasing insulin secretion and reduces oxidative stress in diabetic patients due to its high antioxidant activity. Chirata also plays a beneficial role in kidneys as it helps prevent stone formation due to its diuretic property. It also protects the kidney from damage by free radicals due to the presence of certain bioactive compounds. As per Ayurveda, taking Chirata water two times a day helps manage fever due to its Jvarghana (antipyretic) property.
Chirayita is a medicinal plant indigenous to temperate Himalaya. Chirayita has an erect, about 2–3 ft long stem, the middle portion is round, while the upper is four-angled, with a prominent decurrent line at each angle. The stems are orange brown or purplish in colour. Leaves are opposite- arranged in mutually perpendicular pairs, broadly ovate or lanceshaped, 3.5-10 x 1.5-4 cm, hairless, blunt or heart-shaped at base, tapering at tip, margins entire, usually with 3-7 prominent lateral veins. Flowering in Chirayita is in the form of numerous small, axillary, opposite, lax cymes arranged as short branches and the whole inflorescence is 2 ft long. Flowers are small, stalked, green-yellow, tinged with purple colour. The flower-tube is twice as long as the sepal-cup and has 4 ovate-lanceshaped petals. The upper surface of the petal has a pair of nectaries covered with oblong scales and ending as fringes. There are 4 sepals, much narrower and smaller than the petals. The plant is found in the Himalayas at altitudes of 1200-3000 m, from Kashmir to Bhutan, and NE India. It can be grown in sub-temperate regions between 1500 and 2100 m altitudes.
Its medicinal usage is reported in Indian pharmaceutical codex, the British and the American pharmacopoeias and in different traditional systems of medicines such as the Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha. Chirata is used for fever, constipation, upset stomach, loss of appetite, intestinal worms, skin diseases, and cancer. Some people use it as “a bitter tonic