Chitraka (Plumbago zeylanica)

Basonym of Drug

The medicinal plant Chitraka is scientifically recognized as Plumbago zeylanica. This name serves as the botanical identity of this potent herb in various scientific and traditional contexts.

Main Sanskrit Synonyms

Chitraka, with its vivid medicinal properties, is known by several Sanskrit synonyms, each reflecting its unique qualities. Some key Sanskrit synonyms for Chitraka include:

  1. Agni : It improves Jatharagni (digestive fire)
  2. Vahni : It improves Jatharagni (digestive fire)
  3. Jarana : It digests food.

Regional Name (Vernacular names)

Chitraka’s reputation spans across regions, leading to diverse vernacular names in different languages and cultures:

  • Hindi: Chitrak
  • English: Leadwort
  • Bengali: Chitrak
  • Marathi: Chitrak
  • Tamil: Velluram
  • Telugu: Chitramulamu
  • Kannada: Chitramula
  • Gujarati: Chitrak
  • Punjabi: Chitrak

Botanical Name

The botanical identity of Chitraka is encapsulated in the name Plumbago zeylanica. This plant belongs to the Plumbaginaceae family.


Chitraka finds its place in the Plumbaginaceae family, a botanical family that also includes other well-known plants such as Plumbago auriculata.

Scientific Classification of Dravya

Chitraka’s scientific classification provides insights into its botanical lineage and evolutionary relationships.

  • Kingdom: Plantae (Vanaspati)
  • Sub-Kingdom: Phanerogamia (Pushpavarna)
  • Division (Phylum): Angiosperms (Rajadaniya)
  • Class: Dicotyledons (Dvandvahstha)
  • Order: Caryophyllales (Nandigata)
  • Family: Plumbaginaceae (Chitrakadi)
  • Genus: Plumbago (Chitraka)
  • Species: zeylanica (Shleepada)

Classical Classification of Dravya (Gana)

Chitraka’s classification in the classical Ayurvedic texts, such as Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita, is elucidated below.

Charaka Samhita:

  • Deepaniya: It improves Appetite and Digestion.
  • Arshoghna: useful in treatment of piles.
  • Lekhaniya: It have scrapping property.
  • Shoola prashamana: It relieves abdominal colic pain.

Sushruta Samhita: Amalkyadi, Aragvadhadi, Mustadi, Pippalyadi, Varunadi

Vagbhata: Aragvadhadi, Mustadi, Pippalyadi, Varunadi

Bhava Prakash Nighantu: Haritakyadi

External Morphology

Chitraka is a perennial shrub with slender stems and lance-shaped leaves. The flowers are small, typically white or pale blue, arranged in spikes. The roots are tuberous and are the primary part used for medicinal purposes.

Useful Parts

The tuberous roots of Chitraka are the most valuable and widely used parts for medicinal preparations. The roots contain potent bioactive compounds that contribute to its therapeutic effects.

Important Phytoconstituents

Chitraka is renowned for its rich phytochemical profile, with several bioactive constituents that contribute to its medicinal properties.

  1. Plumbagin: This compound is a key phytoconstituent with notable anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
  2. Beta-sitosterol: It is a plant sterol with potential cholesterol-lowering properties.
  3. Lawsone: This compound is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
  4. Palmitic Acid: An essential fatty acid with various health benefits.
  5. Caryophyllene: A terpene with anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

Chitraka’s pharmacological actions are attributed to these and other phytoconstituents, making it a valuable herb in traditional medicine systems.

Rasa Panchaka:

Rasa (Predominant Taste): Chitraka is characterized by a predominantly Tikta (bitter) taste, which influences its therapeutic properties.

Guna: The Guna of Chitraka is primarily Tikshna (sharp) and Laghu (light), signifying its penetrating and light qualities.

Veerya: Chitraka possesses Ushna Veerya (hot potency), contributing to its heating effect on the body upon ingestion.

Vipaka: Its Vipaka, or post-digestive effect, is Katu (pungent).

Prabhava: Chitraka is known for its special efficacy or Prabhava as a potent digestive stimulant and for its ability to penetrate deep tissues.

Action on Dosha, Dhatu, and Mala:

Dosha: Chitraka predominantly pacifies Vata and Kapha dosha due to its heating and drying nature. It might aggravate Pitta in excess.

Dhatu: Chitraka primarily acts on the Digestive System (Pachaka Pitta) and helps in cleansing the Rasa Dhatu (plasma) by enhancing digestion and metabolism.

Mala: It aids in the elimination of Ama (toxins) from the body and helps in regulating bowel movements, supporting healthy excretion of malas.

Prayogarha Vyadhi (Therapeutic Indications):

Chitraka is indicated for various health conditions:

Indigestion (Ajirna):

  • Chitraka is renowned for its potent digestive properties.
  • It stimulates the digestive fire (Agni) and aids in the effective digestion of food.
  • Useful in cases of indigestion, bloating, and heaviness after meals.

2. Intestinal Worm Infestation (Krimi):

  • Chitraka is valued for its anthelmintic (anti-worm) properties.
  • It helps expel intestinal parasites and supports the overall health of the digestive system.
  • Often included in formulations for deworming.

3. Respiratory Disorders (Shwasa and Kasa):

  • Chitraka has expectorant properties, making it beneficial for respiratory conditions.
  • It helps in clearing excess mucus from the respiratory tract.
  • Useful in the management of cough (Kasa) and asthma (Shwasa).

4. Joint Disorders (Amavata):

  • Chitraka is employed in topical formulations for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
  • It is used externally to alleviate joint pain associated with conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.

5. Liver Disorders (Yakrit Vikara):

  • Chitraka is believed to have hepatoprotective properties.
  • It may support liver function and help in the management of liver disorders.

6. Obesity (Medoroga):

  • Due to its digestive and metabolism-enhancing properties, Chitraka is sometimes included in formulations for weight management.
  • It may help in reducing excess adipose tissue.

7. Skin Disorders (Twak Vikara):

  • External application of Chitraka paste is traditionally used for certain skin conditions.
  • It may aid in the healing of wounds and skin infections.

8. Amenorrhea (Artava Kshaya):

  • Chitraka is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts for its potential role in promoting menstrual regularity.
  • It may be used in specific formulations targeting amenorrhea.

9. Stimulating Appetite:

  • Chitraka’s ability to kindle digestive fire makes it beneficial for individuals with a diminished appetite.
  • It is included in formulations to stimulate hunger.

10. Anti-Inflammatory Action:

  • Chitraka is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which can be beneficial in various inflammatory conditions.

11. Anti-Bacterial and Anti-Microbial Action:

  • It is traditionally used for its antimicrobial properties, aiding in the management of infections.

12. Improving Blood Circulation:

  • Chitraka is thought to have a warming effect that may contribute to improved blood circulation.

Amayikaprayoga and Matra (Therapeutic Administration and Dose):

Amayikaprayoga: Chitraka should be administered cautiously in cases of hyperacidity, peptic ulcer, gastritis, and during pregnancy due to its heating nature.

Matra: The dosage of Chitraka may vary depending on the formulation and the specific condition. Generally, it’s administered in quantities ranging from 250 mg to 2 grams, under professional guidance.

Vishishta Yoga (Names of Important Formulations):

Chitraka is a crucial ingredient in various Ayurvedic formulations such as:

  • Chitrakadi Vati: Tablets containing Chitraka and other herbs for digestive disorders.
  • Chitrakadi Gutika: A herbal preparation for improving digestion and treating worm infestations.
  • Panchakola Churna: Used for digestive issues, abdominal pain, and as a digestive stimulant.
  • Chitrak Haritaki: used for digestive and chronic respiratory complaints.

Vishakta Lakshan (Adverse Effects):

Excessive consumption of Chitraka might lead to adverse effects such as:

  • Hyperacidity: Due to its heating nature, excessive use can aggravate acidity and heartburn.
  • Digestive Upset: Overuse can lead to abdominal discomfort and diarrhea.

Chikitsopachara (Remedial Measures):

If adverse effects occur, remedial measures might include:

  • Discontinuation: Cease consumption and seek medical advice.
  • Cooling Measures: Consume cooling foods or herbs to counteract its heating effect.

Shodhana (Purification method):

Chitraka is purified by soaking in cow’s urine or lime juice for 7 days, where cow’s urine or lime juice is changed.

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Note: The information provided in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice. Please consult with a qualified healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment of any other medical condition.

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