Ever wondered what the name Chitrak means? Surely, you must have heard this name in passing, especially if you’re someone who loves to nurture and heal your body, mind, and spirit by natural and organic means. Literally translated, Chitrak means the “spotted one” and “Agni/fire” in Sanskrit. It literally revs up and rejuvenates your body, making it one of the best herbs for improving digestive fire and enhancing your system’s stamina.
This powerhouse of a herb has been classified as a “Deepaneeya” herb by the famous author, Charaka in his works in the Ayurveda genre. Simply put, the Deepaneeya set of herbs aid in digestive strength and enhance one’s appetite. That’s not all. This miraculous herb also relieves abdominal colic pain and treats piles. Plus, it doubles up as an effective cardio-protective tonic. Whether it’s lowering your cholesterol and blood sugar levels or supporting any other cardiac functions, Chitrak is an extremely helpful medicine if you wish to stay heart-healthy.
According to one of the most influential classical writers of Ayurveda, Vagbhata, Chitkra comes in three varieties, namely: Shweta (White), Peeta (Yellow), and Asita (Black). However, the white variety is extensively used for its healing and therapeutic benefits, and that’s the one we will be exploring today.
Chitrak (Hindi and Sanskrit name) is known by many names such as Plumbago Zeylanica (Botanical name), Leadwort (English name), and Chitrak Mool (Marathi name), being the most famous ones. Belonging to the Plumbaginaceae family, the Chitrak plant is native to the Indian subcontinent and is found throughout the different parts of the country. This herbaceous plant grows up to 3-4 feet and comes with beautiful, delicate flowers and bountiful green foliage.
“Ayurveda is a sister philosophy to yoga. It is the science of life or longevity and it teaches about the power and the cycles of nature, as well as the elements.” ― Christy Turlington
Did you know?
Chitrak root’s juice is extracted to extend blue and black hues for tattoos in Hawaii.
Chitrak’s Physical Properties
- It is pungent in taste pre- and post-digestion.
- It is light, dry, and strong in nature.
- It comes with hot potency.
- It is known to balance the Kapha and Vata doshas.
Chitraka’s Medicinal Characteristics
- Digestive stimulant
Chitrak’s Comprehensive Uses
Typically, Plumbago Zeylanica’s root bark is widely used for a variety of purposes once it has undergone proper purification. The steps for purification is as follows:
Step 1: The roots are cut into small pieces.
Step 2: They are immersed in lime water for about 3 hours.
Step 3: After 3 hours, the immersed roots are taken out and again dipped for another 3 hours in lime water.
Step 4: This process is repeated thrice to obtain pure Chitrak roots.
Important Pointers to Keep in Mind:
- Since the purifying process can become tedious and needs careful supervision, it is highly recommended that you go for ready-made Chitrak powder root instead of making this powder yourself.
- If used without purifying it, the root can be extremely dangerous as it is poisonous in nature.
Apart from its root extract, it is also used as:
- An oil which is prepared from roots to treat rheumatism, joint pain, and paralysis.
- As a milky juice extract which is extracted from the leaves to treat external skin wounds such as scabies. All in all, this paste is used for internal and external application.
- As a decoction/kwath for a host of health benefits.
- Powder form: 1-2 gm in divided doses. To understand the recommended dosage for all other forms, please seek expert guidance.
Other Ayurvedic Preparations with Chitrak as the Main Ingredient
- Chitrakadi Vati: This tablet form of medicine is a God-send when it comes to treating anorexia and indigestion. Basically, it acts as an appetizer and a potent digestive. Plus, it helps to boost your digestive strength. You can take 1-2 tablets a day (pre or post food), or as directed by your doctor.
- Chitrak Haritaki: This herbal jam treats respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, etc. Plus, it helps to improve digestive power, treat flatulence, and remove intestinal worms. You can take 5-10 gm of this jam, 2X a day. Ideally, it is best to consume post meals with milk.
- Kalyanagulam: This herbal jam medicine treats skin, liver (jaundice, fatty liver, etc.), and digestive issues (bloating, fistula, ascites, anaemia, etc.)
- Mandoora Vatakam: This ayurvedic medicine treats jaundice, anaemia, hepatitis, thigh cramps, skin issues, haemorrhoids, etc. You can take 1-2 tablets a day with buttermilk or as directed by your doctor.
Chitrak’s Powerful Benefits: An Overview
Plumbago Zeylanica benefits are well-established and spread across the entire spectrum of health and wellness. These include:
One of the most powerful herbs for all kinds of stomach-issues, Chitrak also relieves malabsorption-related issues. Plus, it is known to boost your appetite and helps in cases of anorexia.
Suggested Remedy: For people suffering from food poisoning, Acharya Balkrishna suggests you take ready-made Chitrak bark’s root powder in the quantity of 2 gm along with warm water on an empty stomach early in the morning and once in the evening for relief. On the other hand, if you experience indigestion on a daily basis, you can take 2 gm of Chitrak Mool’s powder and boil it in 400 gm of water. Once the quantity gets reduced to one-fourth, consume this decoction on an empty stomach.
Chitrak is a natural anti-ageing and rejuvenating herb, as mentioned by Ashtanga Hrudaya. You can safely use without the fear of any side-effects, if taken in the recommended dose under the guidance of an expert, of course.
Suggested Remedy: You can take 1 gm of the powdered herb along with milk/ghee and honey for a period of 30 days. Conversely, you can consume Chitrak root powder, sesame oil, and ghee.
Chitrak comes in handy for treating leucoderma (white patches on the skin).
Suggested Remedy: You can take 1 gm of the powdered herb with cow urine. To treat wounds, carbuncles, and syphilitic ulcers, make a paste with its roots and apply externally.
It offers Vata-balancing advantages.
Suggested Remedy: You can take 1 gm of the powdered herb with sesame oil.
Helps In Cases Of Hemorrhoids
If you’re suffering from haemorrhoids, Chitraka can help.
Suggested Remedy: You can take 1 gm of the powdered herb with buttermilk.
Alleviates Cold And Cough
It removes thick mucus from the body and prevents the onset of the common cold and cough-related infections.
Suggested Remedy: For people suffering from croup and its related symptoms (barking cough, fever, hoarseness, laboured breathing, you can take 1-2 gm of chitrak mool root powder, little mulethi, and 1-2 leaves of Tulsi and boil it in 400 gm of water. Strain it once it gets reduced to a fourth of the quantity, and consume. For treating general cough, sinus, and excessive mucus, you can make your own “panchkol” by mixing chavya, chitrak, peepal, mool and saunth in equal quantities. Take 2 gm of this mixture with honey to get immediate relief. Note that this decoction also helps in treating recurring fever and body pain. To treat excess Kapha in the lungs, mix little liquorice, pippali, and ginger along with 1 gm of Chitrak root powder for relief.
Being rich in plumbagin, it strengthens the immune system and ensures that the body is protected from environmental toxins and free radicals. It is particularly useful in inhibiting the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Suggested Remedy: Consume 1gm of Chitrak root powder along with a teaspoon of ghee to boost your immunity and rejuvenate the body from the inside out.
Treats Osteoarthritis And Rheumatoid Arthritis
It lowers inflammation in the body.
Suggested Remedy: You can take two Ayurvedic Guggulu’s Yogaraj Guggulu and Punarnavadi Guggulu which contain Chitrak to get relief from joint and muscle pain, as well as remove excess fluid from the body. Conversely, you can mix the powdered forms of turmeric, methi, saunth, ashwagandha, and Chitrak in equal amounts, and consume 1 teaspoon, 2x a day along with warm water to get relief from pain.
Chitraka’s Side-Effects & Precautionary Measures
Chitrak, if taken in excess, can have the following side-effects:
- It may lead to heavy periods.
- It may cause excessive burning and trigger gastritis.
- It may cause neuropathy issues.
- It may lead to abortion as it falls under the abortifacient group of herbs.
- Pregnant and lactating mothers should avoid it.
- People suffering from hyper-acidity and peptic ulcers should avoid taking it.
Important: Please consult your doctor before consuming this herb in any form as a precautionary measure. Since there is no standard dose, your doctor can recommend the appropriate dose for you, basis your needs.