CHITRAK (Plumbago zeylanica)
1. INTRODUCTION:- Citraka enjoys an important place among medicinal herbs in India since ancient times. The name citraka denotes one which renders discoloration to the skin, when applied topically. In Sanskrit it has various synonyms describing its virtues, namely agni – fire, jvala – flame, aruna – the great sage Caraka has categorized it as lekhaniya – a reducing herb, bhedaniya – an accumulation breaking herb, dipaniya – an appetizer, trptighna – antisaturative, agnimandya nasaka – combats anorexia, arsoghna – antihaemorrhoidal and as sulaghna relieves colicky pains. . Susruta, has cited it as a stanya sodhaka – lactodepurant and as sukra sodhaka – sperm purifier herb. The Ayurvedic texts, later, have described the other properties of citraka as anahaghna - deflatulent, gulmaghna – mitigates tumours, ajirna nasaka – that alleviates dyspepsia etc. Citraka plant grows throughout India, especially in Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, South India and Sri Lanka, in moist places. It is also cultivated commercially. The plant grows 0.5-1.0 metre in height. It is a perennial shrub. The leaves are simple, alternate, oblong, 8cm and 3cm broad. The flowers are white in colour, 10-25 cm long, inodorous, in terminal spikes. The roots are stout, cylindrical, friable, blackish red in colour, with a pungent odour. The flowering occurs from Semptember to November. The red flowered variety of citraka grows abundantly of Khasi hills. The botanical name of citraka is Plumbago zeylanica and it belongs to family plumbaginaceae. 2. DESCRIPTION:- Perennial, sub-scandent shrubs, 60 - 120 cm high. Leaves aletrnate, ovate, acute, glabrous, entire, stalk short. Flowers white in bracteate, often branched, glandular and elongted spikes, 10- 30 cm long. Capsules oblong, pointed, cotained in viscid, glandular, persistent calyx. Seeds oblong. Roots are 30 cm or more in length, 6 mm in diameter, reddish to deep brown, scars or rootlets present; bark thin and brown, internal structure striated; odour disagreeable; taste acrid. Transverse section of root shows outer most tissue of cork consisting of 5-7 rows of cubical to rectangular dark brown cells; secondary cortex consists of 2-3 rows of thin walled, rectangular, light brown cells, most of the cortex cells contain starch grains; secondary, cortex followed by a wide zone of cortex, composed of large polygonal to tangentially elongated parenchymatous cells, varying in size and shape, containing starch grains and some cells with yellow contents. 3. Scientific classification: Kingdom Plantae – Plants Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons Subclass Caryophyllidae Order Plumbaginales Family Plumbaginaceae – Leadwort family Genus Plumbago L. – leadwort Species Plumbago zeylanica L. – wild leadwort 4. SYNONYMS:- Language(s) Vernacular Names Sanskrit agni, agnika, agnimata, agnishikha, anala, analanama, barhi, bhali, brihadbhanu, chitra, chitraca, chitraka, chitrakavrikshaha, chitranga, citra, citraka, citrakah, dahaka, dahana, daruna, dvipi, himarati, hiranyareta, hutabhuk, hutasa, hutasana, jataveda, jvalanakhya, jyoti, jyotishka, krishanu, krishnavartma, krsanu, katu, lohitanga, nirdahana, nirdahani, pachi, palaka, pali, pathi, pathina, pavaka, saptarshi, shambara, shardula, shikhavana, shikhi, shura, shushma, shwetachitraka, sikhi, sikhin, ushana, vahni, vaishavanara, vallari, vanhinama, vibhakara, vibhavasu, vyala Hindi lechkuro, chita, chitarak, chitawar, chiti, chitra, chitrak, sitraval, seetrok, chitravar, chatawar, safed-buti, chitraval. Arabic shitaraj, chita lakri. Urdu sheetraj hindi, chita wood, chita lakri. 5. AYURVEDICPROPERTIES:- Citraka is pungent and bitter in taste , pungent in the post digestive effect and has a very got potency . It alleviates kapha and vata dosas but aggravates pitta dosa. • GUNA (Quality) : Laghu, Ruksha, Tikshan • RASA (Taste) : Katu • VIPAK (Metabolism) : Katu • VIRYA (Potency) : Ushan • PRABHAV (Impact) : Deepan 6. CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS:- Napthoquinone, Plumbagin, Choloroplumbagin, Biplumbagin, Chitranone, Zeylinone, Isozeylinone, Droserone, Plumbagic acid, Plumbazeylanone, Napthelenone, Isoshinanolone, etc 7. PARTS USED: Root bark. 8. Dose : 1-2 gm 9. USES:- The skin of its roots is used for the medicinal purpose. Before use, the roots of citraka are purified in lime water. The roots are commonly used internally but seldom externally. In the form of an external paste, it is used in filariasis, depigmentation of the skin and anasarca generalized swelling all over the body. On applying its paste, boils appear on the skin and they burst open giving out the impurities. In rheumatic joints, its paste applied is beneficial. Orally or internally, citraka is used in a vast range of diseases. One must use citraka in small doses with caution, as it is very hot and sharp in its properties. It is indeed, a divine herb, in umpteen digestive disorders like loss of appetite, indigestion, piles, worms, colitis, ascites and liver diseases. A mixture of the powder of roots of citraka, rhzome of mustak and the fruits of vidanga in equal proportion, is taken 2-3 gms, with honey. It augments the appetite, improves digeston, relieves constipation and alleviates the urticaria – the allergic skin rashes. One gram of its root powder, with a glassful of buttermilk is recommended in the treatment of non-bleeding piles. The same is extremely helpful in colitis, when consumed for 4-6 months. Citraka alleviates oedema, hence effectively used in the enlarged liver and spleen. It relieves the obstructed phlegm in chronic colds and cough. It is used as a rejuenative (rasayana) in the diseases originated from the loss of appetite. It along with non-bleeding piles, works well in ano-rectal swellings. The medicated ghrta of citraka is very salutary in hepato splenomegaly and fever. The cough due to kapha dosa, is well controlled with Citrakadi curna a mixture of citraka, pippali, pippali mula and gaja pippali. Vagbhata and Sasruta have praised citraka as a bitter tonic and recommended as a rejuvenator. The tumours of vata origin are treated with Citraka ghrta whereas tumours of kapha origin are treated with the decoction of citraka with sunthi, pippali and eranda mula. Citraka digests the ama, augments the appetite and reduces the swelling, hence, is the potent drug for non-bleeding piles of vata and kapha types. Because of its extreme hot and sharp attributes, it irritates the uterus, enhances its contractions, hence is useful in cleansing it. It causes abortion, hence should be used with caution. It is absolutely contraindicated in preganacy. The decocotion of citraka works well in skin diseases, associated with pain and itching. The combination – citraka, vaca, sunthi and kutaja is a very comprehensive medicament for diarrhea, associated with abdominal pain and chronic colitis.