What is Swertia Chirata? What are the Health Benefits, Uses and Side Effects of Bitter Sticks? Swertia Chirayta Herbal Tea

Table of Contents

1. What is Swertia Chirata? 
2. Ayurvedic properties of Swertia Chirata 
3. Dosha Considerations with Chirayta
4. Health Benefits & Uses of Bitter Sticks.
5. Herbal Remedies & Ayurvedic Formulations of Chirayta. 
6. Timings & Frequency of Chirata Intake
7. Side Effects of Chirayta / Swertia Chirata
8. Swertia Chirata Herbal Tea
9. Precautions and Contraindications
10. Frequently Asked Question

1. What is Swertia Chirata?

Swertia chirata has a long history of use in traditional Ayurvedic and Unani medicine for treating various ailments such as fever, digestive disorders, and liver diseases. The plant contains several bioactive compounds such as xanthones, flavonoids, and alkaloids, which have been studied for their potential therapeutic benefits. Swertia chirata is also used as a bitter tonic and flavoring agent in some food products and alcoholic beverages.

In Ayurveda, it is used to cure many diseases like diabetes, liver disorders, skin diseases, and constipation. Ayurvedic physicians have long used it as a bitter tonic.


It is a medicinal plant that holds significant importance in traditional medicine systems. It belongs to the Gentianaceae family and is native to the temperate regions of the Himalayas, including India, Nepal, and Bhutan. Swertia Chirata is a perennial herbaceous plant that typically grows up to 1.5 meters in height. It is characterized by its distinctive bright green leaves and yellow tubular flowers.

Chemical Constituent

The plant contains a bitter glycoside chiratin, which on hydrolysis yield two bitter principles, ophelic acid, and chiratin. The latter is soluble in water, the ophelic acid is a brown hygroscopic substance that is soluble in water and alcohol. It also contains resin, tannin, and 4 -8 percent of ash. Swertia Chirata is a very useful herb in Ayurveda. Its medicinal usage is well-documented in different traditional medicine such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, and other medical systems.

Here are some of the key components:


Xanthones are a class of polyphenolic compounds found in Swertia Chirata. They have demonstrated various pharmacological activities, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial effects. These compounds play a crucial role in the plant's therapeutic properties.

Bitter principles

The intense bitterness of Swertia Chirata is attributed to its bitter principles, such as amarogentin and chiratanin. These bitter compounds are believed to stimulate the secretion of digestive juices, promoting better digestion and appetite. They also have antipyretic (fever-reducing) properties.


Swertia Chirata contains flavonoids, including luteolin and apigenin. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They scavenge free radicals, protect cells from oxidative stress, and have potential immunomodulatory effects.


Alkaloids are nitrogenous organic compounds found in Swertia Chirata. Some of the alkaloids identified in this plant include swertiamarin and amarogentin. Alkaloids often exhibit diverse biological activities, including antimicrobial, antimalarial, and hepatoprotective effects.


Swertia Chirata contains flavonoids, including luteolin and apigenin. Flavonoids are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. They scavenge free radicals, protect cells from oxidative stress, and have potential immunomodulatory effects.


Alkaloids are nitrogenous organic compounds found in Swertia Chirata. Some of the alkaloids identified in this plant include swertiamarin and amarogentin. Alkaloids often exhibit diverse biological activities, including antimicrobial, antimalarial, and hepatoprotective effects.


Swertia Chirata Leaves 

The leaves are in opposite pairs, broadly lanceolate, without stalks, pointed at the tip, they are cordate at the base, sessile, five to seven nerved, and 4 cm long.

Swertia Chirata Leaves

Swertia Chirata Flowers 

The plant has numerous flowers, pale green in color, tinged with purple, and long white or pink hair. The sepals and petals are four in number and each petal lobe has a pair of green, honey-secreting glands.

Swertia Chirata Flowers

Swertia Chirata Stem 

The stem is smooth with thin readily separable bark, robust and cylindrical below, but four-angled upwards and they are yellowish or purplish-brown.

Swertia Chirata Stem

Historical and Cultural Significance

It has a rich historical and cultural significance, particularly in South Asia. It has been used for centuries in traditional Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine systems. In these ancient healing practices, Chirayta is highly regarded for its therapeutic properties and is often referred to as the "King of Bitters" due to its intensely bitter taste.

Common Names of Chirata

The common names of Swertia chirata vary across different regions and languages. Here are some of the common names by which Swertia chirata is known:

  • Chirayta
  • Chiretta
  • Kirata tikta
  • Nepali neem
  • Bitterstick
  • Indian gentian
  • Chirayat
  • Chirata
  • Chirayath
  • Bitter chirayta

2. Ayurvedic properties of Swertia Chirata (Chirayta)

Chirayta or Chiretta, is a bitter herb highly valued in Ayurveda for its various therapeutic properties. The whole plant, especially the aerial parts (stems, leaves, and flowers), is used for its medicinal benefits.

Ayurvedic properties of Swertia chirata:

1. Rasa (Taste): Swertia chirata is primarily bitter (Tikta) in taste.

2. Virya (Potency): It is cooling in nature (Sheeta Virya).

3. Vipaka (Post-digestive taste): The post-digestive taste is pungent (Katu Vipaka).

4. Dosha Effects: Swertia chirata primarily balances Pitta dosha and, to a lesser extent, Kapha dosha. However, in excess, it may increase Vata dosha.

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Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Liver Support: It is highly valued for its beneficial effects on the liver. It is used to support liver health and function, making it helpful in managing various liver disorders.

  2. Digestive Support: The herb is used to support healthy digestion and manage digestive disorders like indigestion, loss of appetite, and constipation due to its bitter taste, which stimulates digestive juices.

  3. Fever Management: It is used in Ayurveda to manage fever and related symptoms, thanks to its cooling and antipyretic properties.

  4. Blood Purification: It is known for its blood-purifying properties, helping to detoxify the blood and support overall blood health.

  5. Immune Booster: It is believed to have immunomodulatory effects, boosting the body's natural defense mechanisms.

  6. Anti-inflammatory: It possesses anti-inflammatory properties and can be used to manage inflammatory conditions.

  7. Antioxidant: It is rich in antioxidants, which help neutralize free radicals and protect the body from oxidative stress.

  8. Anti-parasitic: It is used to manage certain parasitic infections due to its potent anti-parasitic properties.

3. Dosha Considerations with Chirayta

Ayurveda recognizes three doshas: Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, which are biological energies that govern various physiological and psychological functions. Swertia Chirata is primarily known for its effects on Pitta and Kapha doshas.

Pitta Dosha

Chirayta's bitter and cooling properties make it beneficial for balancing Pitta dosha, which is associated with heat, inflammation, and digestion. It is often used to alleviate Pitta-related conditions such as hyperacidity, indigestion, and liver disorders.

Kapha Dosha

Swertia Chirata's astringent and drying qualities help balance Kapha dosha, which is associated with heaviness, congestion, and sluggishness. It is used to support respiratory health, reduce excess mucus, and promote detoxification.

4. Health Benefits & Uses of Bitter Sticks

Swertia Chirata is a valuable bitter tonic, a laxative, and an appetizer, it also corrects the disordered process of nutrition and restores the normal functioning of the system.

It has carminative, laxative, antipyretic, febrifuge, anti-periodic, anti-inflammatory, stomachic, anti-helminthic, antioxidant, anti-diabetic, and antitussive properties. Swertia chirata has been reported as the most important medicinal properties, it is also known for its bitter taste and has tremendous uses in traditional medicines. The plant is used as an astringent, heart tonic, liver tonic, cough, scanty-urine, melancholia, dropsy, sciatica, and skin diseases.

Here are health benefits of Swertia chirata

For Fever

It is an effective herb for reducing fever, especially malarial fever. It is also effective in hysteria and convulsions.

For General Debility

Swertia Chirata serves as an effective tonic in case of general weakness and during convalescence.

For Intestinal Worms

Swertia Chirata possesses anthelmintic, which is worms destroying properties and is used in killing intestinal worms.

For Stomach Disorder

Swertia Chirata is an excellent herb for strengthening and promoting action of the stomach. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia and diarrhea.

For Hiccups

Swertia Chirata roots are beneficial in hiccups and vomiting.

For Constipation

Due to laxative properties, Swertia Chirata helps to treat constipation and promote bowel movement which eases the excretion of stool from the body.

For Diabetes

Due to its anti-diabetic properties, Swertia Chirata helps to control diabetes and regulate the blood sugar level.

For Arthritis

Swertia Chirata has anti-inflammatory property that helps to treat arthritis and gout, it also helps to treat wound and ulcer.

Some other potential health benefits of Swertia Chirata

For Immune System:

Swertia Chirata contains alkaloids, flavonoids, and other bioactive compounds that may help to enhance the immune system's functioning, protecting the body against infections and diseases.

For Malaria:

Swertia Chirata has been shown to have antimalarial properties, making it a potential alternative or adjunct therapy for treating malaria.

For Liver Disorders:

Swertia Chirata has hepatoprotective properties, which may help protect the liver from damage and improve liver function in cases of liver disorders.

Here are uses of Swertia Chirata

Dosage and uses depend upon the health problems and conditions or as recommended by an Ayurvedic doctor. The generally recommended dosage is 3-6 grams of Swertia Chirata daily once a day.

Here are some home remedies for Swertia Chirata / Swertia

  • Take the infusion of the Swertia in a dose of 60ml or 4 tbsp. twice a day, before meals. Helps to treat general debility.
  • Take 1 tsp of Swertia Chirata powder with water once a day, or take an infusion, which helps to treat intestinal worms.
  • Take 5-6 grams of Swertia Chirata powder with lukewarm water after meal, helps to treat stomach disorders.
  • Take 2 grams of Swertia Chirata root powder with honey, helps with hiccups and vomiting.

5. Herbal Remedies & Ayurvedic Formulations of Chirayta. 

Try out some herbal remedies and formulations of Chirata which you can easily try at home. 

Herbal Remedies 

For Liver & Digestive Health


  • 1 teaspoon Chirayta Churna (powdered Swertia Chirata)
  • 1 teaspoon Amla Churna (powdered Indian Gooseberry)
  • 1 teaspoon honey


  • Mix Chirayta Churna and Amla Churna together in a bowl.
  • Add honey to the mixture and stir well to form a paste.
  • Consume this mixture once daily in the morning on an empty stomach.

Benefit: This combination is believed to support overall immunity, digestion, and liver health. It particularly benefits individuals with Pitta dosha imbalances and can help enhance vitality and well-being.

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For Blood Purification & Detoxification


  • 1 teaspoon Chirayta Swaras (Swertia Chirata juice)
  • 1 teaspoon Neem juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw honey


  • Mix Chirayta Swaras and Neem juice together in a small bowl.
  • Add raw honey to the mixture and stir well.
  • Consume this mixture twice daily, preferably in the morning and evening.

Benefit: This combination is often used to support detoxification, purify the blood, and promote healthy skin. It can be beneficial for individuals with Kapha and Pitta dosha imbalances, especially those prone to skin issues and sluggish digestion.

For Liver Disorders


  • 1 teaspoon Chirayta Churna (powdered Swertia Chirata)
  • 1 teaspoon Kutki Churna (powdered Picrorhiza kurroa)
  • 1 teaspoon Giloy Swaras (Tinospora cordifolia juice)


  • Mix Chirayta Churna and Kutki Churna together in a bowl.
  • Add Giloy Swaras to the mixture and stir well.
  • Consume this mixture twice daily, preferably in the morning and evening.

Benefit: This combination is commonly used for its hepatoprotective properties and to support liver health. It is beneficial for individuals with Pitta dosha imbalances, liver disorders, and digestive issues.

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Ayurvedic Formulations

Chirayta Kashaya (Decoction)

Chirayta Kashaya is a traditional Ayurvedic decoction made from Swertia Chirata. It is prepared by boiling the herb in water to extract its medicinal constituents. Here's a basic recipe to make Chirayta Kashaya:


  • 1 teaspoon of dried Swertia Chirata powder or 2 teaspoons of fresh Swertia Chirata leaves
  • 2 cups of water


  • Add the Swertia Chirata powder or leaves to a saucepan.
  • Pour water into the saucepan and bring it to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Strain the decoction into a cup or container.
  • Allow it to cool slightly before consuming.

Chirayta Kashaya is traditionally used to support digestion, improve appetite, and promote overall well-being. It is often taken in small quantities, usually 20-30 ml, once or twice a day, you can adjust the dosage based on your specific requirements and the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

Chirayta Churna (Powder)

Chirayta Churna is a powdered form of Swertia Chirata that can be easily incorporated into various Ayurvedic formulations. Here's a simple recipe to make Chirayta Churna:

  • Dried Swertia Chirata leaves
  • Take dried Swertia Chirata leaves.
  • Grind the leaves in a blender or herb grinder until you achieve a fine powder consistency.
  • Store the powder in an airtight container for future use.

Chirayta Churna can be used in various ways, such as mixing it with honey or ghee to create a paste for topical application or adding it to herbal formulations and teas for internal consumption. 

Chirayta Swaras (Juice)

Chirayta Swaras refers to the juice extracted from fresh Swertia Chirata leaves. It is believed to be more potent due to the presence of fresh, active constituents. Here's a basic recipe to make Chirayta Swaras:


  • Fresh Swertia Chirata leaves
  • Water


  • Wash the Swertia Chirata leaves thoroughly.
  • Crush the leaves using a mortar and pestle or blend them in a blender with a small amount of water.
  • Strain the juice using a fine sieve or muslin cloth to remove any solid particles.
  • Collect the strained juice in a clean container.

Chirayta Swaras is commonly used for its digestive and detoxifying properties. The recommended dosage and usage may vary based on individual needs and the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.

6. Timings & Frequency of Chirata Intake

Chirata can be taken as suggested by Ayurveda practitioners, here are some general recommendations for timings and frequency of intake of chirata.

Morning consumption

Swertia Chirata is often recommended to be consumed in the morning to maximize its benefits throughout the day. It can help kickstart digestion, boost immunity, and provide an overall energizing effect. Starting the day with Swertia Chirata may be beneficial for individuals seeking its health-promoting properties.

Empty stomach or after meals

The timing of Swertia Chirata consumption in relation to meals can vary depending on individual preferences and specific health conditions. Some people prefer taking it on an empty stomach, while others find it more comfortable to consume it after meals. Both approaches can be effective, and the choice may depend on personal tolerance and convenience.

Empty Stomach

Taking Swertia Chirata on an empty stomach allows for quicker absorption and digestion. It may be suitable for individuals who prefer a faster onset of its effects or have specific digestive concerns.

After Meals

Consuming Swertia Chirata after meals can help minimize any potential digestive discomfort or irritation. It can also be beneficial for those who prefer to take it with food or have sensitive stomachs.

7. Side Effects of Chirayta / Swertia Chirata

All Ayurveda herbs are plant-based, and they don’ have any side effects but they may react with some allopathy or homeopathy medicine. It is better to consult the doctor if you are on any medications or have special health issues.

While Swertia Chirata (Chirayta) is generally considered safe when used appropriately, some potential side effects are:

Gastrointestinal discomfort:

Consuming Swertia Chirata may cause gastrointestinal discomforts, such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, especially when consumed in high doses.

Allergic reactions:

Some people may develop allergic reactions to Swertia Chirata, leading to symptoms such as itching, swelling, and difficulty breathing.


Swertia Chirata may lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, leading to hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Therefore, people with diabetes should use Swertia Chirata with caution and under the guidance of a healthcare professional.

Interference with certain medications:

Swertia Chirata may interact with certain medications, such as blood thinners, and interfere with their effectiveness. Therefore, it is important to consult a healthcare professional before using Swertia Chirata alongside any medication.

Pregnancy and breast-feeding:

There is not enough information available on the safety of Swertia Chirata during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid using Swertia Chirata.

8. Precautions and Contraindications

  • Consult the doctor if you are breastfeeding.
  • Do not take without a doctor’s prescription if you are pregnant.
  • Do not take Chirayta / Swertia Chirata if you are suffering from diarrhea, bleeding per rectum, rectal prolapse, or fecal incontinence.
  • If you are on diabetes or hypertension medication. Consult first the doctor before consuming Chirayta / Swertia Chirata.
  • If you are above 65 years old and want to start Chirayta / Swertia Chirata, consult the doctor and talk about the health conditions.
  • If you are on any supplements, vitamins, or herbal medication, consult the doctor before taking Chirayta / Swertia Chirata.
  • Avoid Chirayta / Swertia Chirata when having intestinal ulcers as it could worsen the condition.
  • Stop taking Chirayta / Swertia Chirata at least two weeks before a scheduled surgery.
  • Chirayta / Swertia Chirata may interact with other medicines like blood sugar or blood pressure allopathy medicines.

9. Swertia Chirata Herbal Tea

This herbal tea is great for immunity, diabetes, and constipation. It is very simple to make, and you can drink it two times a day.


Yield – 2 cups

  • Swertia Chirata Powder – 1 tsp
  • Clove – 2 buds
  • Black Pepper Powder – ¼ tsp
  • Jaggery Powder – 1 tsp
  • Lemon Juice – 1 tsp
  • Water – 2 ½ cups
  • Black Salt – ½ tsp
  • Cinnamon Powder – ¼ tsp


  • Take a pan and add water and boil it.
  • Add all the ingredients except lemon juice.
  • Boil it for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add lemon juice and strain the tea into cups.
  • Drink hot and enjoy the aromatic flavors.

10. Frequently Asked Question

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