Herbs Profile

Chitraka (White leadwort)

Chitraka means the ‘spotted one’, perhaps referring to its namesake, the spotted leopard, who speedily catches its prey just as chitraka rapidly cures diseases. It is also known as agni meaning ‘fire’ or jvala meaning ‘flame’. It is a very hot-natured herb and should be used sparingly. It strongly increases the digestive fire.

Common name White leadwort (E), Chita (H) Sanskrit Citraka, Agni, Jvala Latin Plumbago zeylanicum–Radix (Plumbaginaceae)


  • Rasa (taste) Pungent, bitter
  • Vı-rya (energy) Very hot
  • Vipa-ka (post-digestive effect) Pungent
  • Gun.a (quality) Dry, light, penetrating
  • Dos.a effect VK−, P and agni+
  • Dha-tu (tissue) Plasma, blood, bone, reproductive
  • Srotas (channel) Digestive, nerve, reproductive


  • Naphthalene derivatives Plumbagin, chitranone, zeylinon
  • Triterpenes Lupeol, lupenyl
  • Amino acids (Williamson 2002)


  • Lekhanı-ya A ‘scraping’ herb
  • Krimighna Worm-destroying
  • Pa-cana Digestive
  • Dı-pana Appetite stimulant
  • Grahı- Absorbs excess fluids from the intestines
  • Amana-saka Destroyer of toxins
  • Sulapras´amana Alleviates pain
  • Bhedanı-ya A stagnation remover
  • Sothahara Alleviates swellings
  • Kasasvasahara Stops coughs and
  • breathing difficulties
  • Rasa-yana Rejuvenative
  • Ars´oghna Alleviates piles
  • Vatakaphahara Reduces vata and kapha


Stimulant, carminative, antiparasitical, abortifacient, analgesic, antihaemorrhoidal, rubifacient


Digestion Deficient digestion (mandagni) with flatulence and diarrhoea with cold signs of watery stools and aversion to cold due to excessive kapha and vata. Its solar quality absorbs water and dries excess fluids in the intestines. It kills parasites. It is used in haemorrhoids with congestion in the apanaksetra and is a specific for non-bleeding (vata-kapha) piles (Bhavapraka´sa). It is a superb rasayana for agni assisting with absorption of nutrients and treating abdominal pain and bloating.

Joints Specific for s´lesaka kapha and ama in the joints; cold, wet, damp type arthritis with pain, swelling, pitting and water retention (Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha).

Nerves A depressed nervous system is stimulated by small amounts. It  activates the movement of vata that is stagnated due to congestion of kapha or weakness.

Respiratory Used in chronic and acute rhinitis from cold (Gogte 2000).


* Fennel, cardamom, ginger in digestive weakness with ama.

* Guggulu in arthritis and amavata.

* Licorice, pippali, ginger in aggravated kapha in the lungs.


Pregnancy, aggravated pitta.


No drug–herb interactions are known.


250mg–3g per day or 0.5–6ml per day of a 1:3 @ 25% tincture.

Overdose causes burning, vomiting and diarrhoea.


  • Chitraka is a perennial with beautiful white flowers that thrives in the east and south of India and all over Sri Lanka.
  • The red variety is Plumbago indica. It is hotter than the white variety.
  • It is a superb herb for all diseases caused by manda-gni, low digestive fire. It should always be used in combination with other herbs to moderate
  • some of its harsh irritant properties. Often combined with ghee into a rejuvenating compound.
  • Chitraka can be purified in lime juice to alleviate some of its harsher hot and penetrating qualities.
  • External application of the paste causes blistering. This is therapeutically employed in vitiligo and arthritis to stimulate peripheral circulation.

About the author

Dr. Ram Mani Bhandari

Experienced holistic doctor, healer, teacher, and writer
Specialized in Ayurvedic detox (Panchakarma)
Trained in India and Nepal, the original lands of Ayurveda
Graduate in Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (B.A.M.S.) from the Institute of Medicine at Tribhuwan University in Kathmandu.
Professional member of Australasian Association of Ayurveda (AAA)
Owner of Sunshine Ayurveda

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