Description of plant

Chitrak, Plumbago zeylanica

Plumbago is an herbaceous plant with glabrous stem that are erect, climbing and prostate and have numerous stems. This plant grows up to height of 3-4 feet. Leaves are 4cm long, thick, fleshy, sessile, oval and lance-elliptic in shape with hairy margins. Base of the leaf is attenuate and apex is obtuse or acute in shape. Bisexual flowers of this plant are white colored, 10-25cm long and are arranged in terminal and axillary elongated spikes and this plant appears throughout year. Stalked and sticky substance densely covers the calyx. Calyx is totally covered with granular hair and it is capable of killing and trapping insects by secreting sticky mucilage. Fruits have apex,are small and have 5 furrows. Fruits contain single seed that is oblong about 5-6mm long and reddish brown to dark brown in color. Fresh straight and slightly branched roots are light yellow colored and dried roots are reddish brown with a pungent odor.

General information

Name plumbago is derived from word plumb that means lead and agree to convey and commonly Plumbago zeylanica is known as Ceylon leadwort, doctor bush and wild leadwort. One of very effective digestive and carminative herb is chitraka. In ayurvedic medicinal system chitrak is considered as rasayan. Chitrak is versatile herb with three colored flowers-red, white and blue. It is very important medicinal herb and roots of this herb are very effective for cardiac disorders, hepatic disorders and disorders associated with nervous system.

According to vagbhata there are three varieties of chitraka:-

  1. Shweta chitraka
  2. Peeta chitraka
  3. Asita chitraka

Roots of chitrak contain a yellowish pungent substance called plumbagin. This chemical compound found in chitrak is poisonous in nature. Other chemical compounds found in plumbago are 3-chloroplumbagin, plumbagic acid, glucose, fructose, sucrose, hydroxyproline, isozeylinone and aspartic acid.

Juice of roots of chitrak is used to provide blue and black coloration in tattoo formation in Hawaii.

Habitat

Plumbago is mainly native to old tropical regions of pacific and Hawaiian island and it is cultivated for its medicinal and commercial purposes. Chitrak is densely distributed found in south India and Sri Lanka. In India it is also easily available in Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.

Special note about Plumbago zeylanica

Chitrak roots are poisonous in nature and for its use purification of chitrak roots are very important. Chitrak roots are cut into small pieces and immersed in lime water for three hours. Immersed roots are taken out and again dipped in lime water. This process is repeated for three times to obtain pure chitrak roots.

Classification

  • Kingdom - Plantae
  • Order - Cayrophyllales
  • Family - Plumbaginaceae

Names

  • Latin name - Plumbago zeylanica
  • Hindi name - Chitrak
  • English name - Leadwort, Doctorbush
  • Bengali name - Chita
  • Kannada name - Chitramula, vahni
  • Malayalam name - Vellakeduveli
  • Oriya name - Chitamula
  • Punjabi name - Chitra
  • Telugu name - Chitramulam
  • Marathi name - Chitramul
  • Gujarati name - Chitro
  • Tamil name - Chittiri, Chittira
  • Arabian name - Sheetaraj
  • Farsi name - Sheetar

Ayurvedic properties

Hindi / Sanskrit English
Rasa Katu Taste Pungent
Guna Laghu, Rookash, Tikshan Physical Property Light, Rough, Sharp
Virya Ushna Potency Hot
Vipaka Katu Metabolic Property (After Digestion) Pungent

Effects on Dosha

It balances vata and kapha dosha.

Charak Samhita Sushrut Samhita Vagbhata
  • Deepneya - Herb used to improve appetite and digestion.
  • Shool prashmana -  Herb used to cure adominal pain.
  • Arshoghna - Herb used to cure piles.
  • Lekhneeya - herbs which have scraping power.
Amalkyadi, Pippladi, Mustadi, Varunadi, Aragvadhadi Pippalyadi, Mustadi, Varunadi, Aragvadhadi

Ancient verse about Plumbago zeylanica

Ancient verse about Plumbago zeylanica

Chitrak, analnama, pathi, vyaal and ushan are Sanskrit names of plumbago. It is pungent in taste after digestion, stimulant, digestive, rough and has hot potency. It is used in mal absorption syndrome, leprosy, inflammation, piles, and worms and to cure cough. It is absorbent and it helps to pacify all three body doshas.

Practical uses from Plumbago Zeylanica

  • Root powder of plumbago is very effective for the sufferers of diarrhea and piles.
  • The main chemical compound plumbagin helps to boost up immunity.
  • This herb is used to expel out thick nasal mucus which is main cause of recurrent common cold and cough.
  • It is used to reduce inflammation and very effective in bronchitis and chronic sinusitis.
  • Root of plumbago is used to increase appetite and to stimulate digestive system. It is used to stimulate digestive power and used as carminative.
  • Roots are also used to cure the spleen enlargement.
  • Leaves of this plant are capable for treating laryngitis and rheumatism.
  • External paste of this herb is used to reduce skin inflammation, filariasis and various other disorders associated with skin.
  • Paste of roots is applied externally on carbuncles, wounds and syphilitic ulcers.
  • Pure extract of this herb is used in lowering cholesterol level.
  • It is used to inhibit the growth of cancer causing cells of prostate.
  • Plumbago enhances liver power and it is also used as liver tonic.
  • This herb is anti-inflammatory in nature and used to reduce swelling and also beneficial in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
  • According to Ayurveda chitrak rejuvenates body and is used as rasayana.
  • It is used for pacification of vata and kapha dosha.

Ayurvedic products from plumbago zeylanica

Part used

  • Leaves
  • Root

Dosage

  • Root powder - 1-3gm

Cautions

This herb is not prescribed in pregnancy.

Heavy dose may cause heavy periods.

Excess use of this herb may cause gastritis, burning sensation and neuropathy.

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