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Bitter potion called Chirata

hirata, indigenous to the Himalayas, is a bitter tasting plant commonly used in traditional medical systems of the country. It is valued for treating a variety of health problems. It grows in temperate regions from Kashmir to Bhutan. Well known in traditional systems of medicines such as the Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha, its medicinal properties are also reported in the pharmaceutical codex, the British and the American pharmacopoeias. Traditionally, all parts of the plant including leaves, flowers, roots and stems are used; however, the root is mentioned to be the most powerful part. Benefits in traditional medicine include reducing fevers, joint pains, getting rid of intestinal worms, skin diseases, easing constipation, urinary discharges, ulcers, stomach ache, asthma, bronchitis and vaginal infections. Its also been used as a breath freshener and for reducing vomiting during pregnancy. Traditional Bhutanese medicine uses Chirata for blood purification and to cure common cold, gout, diabetes and even malaria. According to Ayurveda, Chirata is excellent for de-worming children, is cooling in nature, and easy to digest.

The bitterness and benefits in treating worms (antihelmintic), fever (antipyretic), and lowering blood sugar (hypoglycemic) are attributed to amarogentin (most bitter compound isolated till date), swerchirin, swertiamarin and other active compounds including mangeferin. It has been reported recently, that these phytonutrients also impart anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic activities to Chirata..Chirata showed anti-viral properties against the Herpes virus. Scientific studies have also shown that Chirata has benefits in liver and gall bladder disease and also has anti-infective properties including anti-bacterial, antifungal and anti-tubercular. Its benefits on gastro-intestinal health have also been reported in several small studies.

Chirata can alter gut motility and help in constipation, colic, diarrhoea and asthma. The medicinal properties of this plant have generated interest in researchers. Larger clinical trials to re-validate these benefits are likely to open new avenues for its multi-spectrum benefits, particularly for its use in pharmaceutical industry for preparation of drugs for prevention and treatment of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease and cancer.