Herb: Chiretta

Latin name: Swertia chirayita

Synonyms: Ophelia chirata, Swertia chirata

Family: Gentianaceae (Gentian Family)

Medicinal use of Chiretta:

Chiretta is a traditional Ayurvedic herb. A strongly bitter tonic it is an excellent remedy for a weak stomach, especially when this gives rise to nausea, indigestion and bloating, and it has also been shown to protect the liver. It is perhaps best known in India as the main ingredient in mahasudarshana churna, a remedy containing more than 50 herbs. The plant has an interesting chemistry, similar in many respects to Gentiana lutea, a widely used restorative tonic of the digestive system. It also contains xanthones, which are reputedly effective against malaria and tuberculosis, and also amarogentin, a glycoside that may protect the liver against carbon tetrachloride poisoning. The whole plant is an extremely bitter tonic digestive herb that lowers fevers and is stimulant. The herb has a beneficial effect on the liver, promoting the flow of bile, it also cures constipation and is useful for treating dyspepsia. The plant is harvested when the seed is setting and then dried for later use.

Description of the plant:


100 cm
(3 1/4 foot)

to October

Habitat of the herb:

Pastures and slopes in the Himalayas to 3,000 metres.

Propagation of Chiretta:

Seed - sow spring in temperatures not exceeding 10C in a humus-rich medium. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out in early summer.

Cultivation of the herb:

Pastures and slopes in the Himalayas to 3,000 metres.

Known hazards of Swertia chirayita:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.