The plant is an erect annual. The stems are robust, branching, cylindrical below and 4-angled upwards, containing a large pith; the leaves are broadly lanceolate, 5-nerved and sub-sessile; the flowers occur in large panicles, are lurid greenish yellow, tinged with purple; the capsules are egg-shaped, many-sided, sharp-pointed; the seeds are smooth and many- angled. Chirata, indigenous to the Himalayas, is a bitter tasting plant commonly used in traditional medical systems of our country. It is valued for treating a variety of health problems.
The herb is an excellent drug for strengthening the stomach and promoting its action. It is used in the treatment of dyspepsia and diarrhoea.
Chirata possesses anthelmintic that is, worms destroying, and properties that are used in killing intestinal worms.
An infusion of the herb is taken for this purpose. It serves as an effective tonic in case of general weakness and during convalescence.
It is 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.
The herb as well as its extracts is used as a bitter stimulant to treat fever as well as curing several skin problems.
It is much employed in urinary complaints with uneasiness in the region of the kidneys, frequent urging to urinate, which is accomplished with difficulty, and in cases of uric acid-deposits.
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, anti-fungal and anti-tubercular.
Bitter remedies can trigger subtle psychological effects, even acting as mild antidepressants.
For example, bitters can help lift the spirits in cases of post-viral-infection depression.
In manufacturing, Chirata is used in alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
Always consult a health care provider before using any herb especially if pregnant or nursing.