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

Table of Contents

1. Overview
2. What is Swertia Chirata? 
3. Ayurvedic properties of Swertia Chirata (Chirayta)
4. What are the Benefits of Swertia? 
5. How to Use Swertia Chirata? 
6. Side Effects of Chirayta / Swertia Chirata
7. Swertia Chirata Herbal Tea
8. Frequently Asked Question

1. Overview

This article provides an overview of Swertia Chirata, a herb commonly known as Chirayta. It outlines the plant's characteristics, traditional uses, and modern applications in medicine. The article highlights the health benefits of Chirayta, including its potential to boost the immune system, reduce fever, aid digestion, and treat various ailments such as malaria, liver disorders, and diabetes. It also examines the safety concerns of consuming Swertia Chirata and its potential side effects, such as nausea and diarrhea. Furthermore, the article highlights the preparation and consumption of Swertia Chirata as a herbal tea, a common form of consumption. Overall, this article provides a comprehensive understanding of Swertia Chirata's properties, benefits, and limitations.

2. What is Swertia Chirata? 

Chirata botanical name is Swertia Chirata, some common names are Swertia, Indian gentian, bitter stick, chiretta, chirette, chirayta and chirette des indes. It is a robust annual herb herbaceous plant that grows up to about 1.5 meters in height. The Swertia Chirata is indigenous to the temperate Himalayas from Kashmir to Nepal, Bhutan, and Khasi hills in Meghalaya.

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 disorder, skin diseases, and constipation. It has long been used by Ayurvedic physicians as a bitter tonic.

Chemical Constituent, Morphology of Swertia chirata

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.


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

3. 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.

Ayurvedic Uses:

  1. Liver Support: Swertia chirata 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: Swertia chirata 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: Swertia chirata 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: Swertia chirata 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.

4. What are the Benefits of Swertia?

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 some 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

Boosting the 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.

Reducing fever:
Swertia Chirata has been traditionally used to lower fever, thanks to its antipyretic properties.

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

Aiding digestion:
Swertia Chirata is a digestive stimulant, which can help improve appetite, digestion, and absorption of nutrients. It may also help reduce constipation, flatulence, and bloating.

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

Managing diabetes:
Swertia Chirata has been shown to have hypoglycemic properties, which may help regulate blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

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5. How to Use Swertia Chirata?

Dosage and uses depend upon the health problems and conditions or as recommended by an Ayurvedic doctor. The general 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.

6. 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.

Hypoglycemia: 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.

Some General Precautions while consuming Swertia Chirata

  • 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.

7. 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.

8. Frequently Asked Question

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