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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Kirata: The drug for all ailments

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Kirata, Kalmegh or Chiraita is a wild herb with bitter taste. It grows in the wild in forests, wastelands, and along roadsides. It is popularly known as the king of bitters.

Kalmegh belongs to the family Acanthaceae and genus Andrographis. Andrographis paniculata is a common species of this genus.


Image: Kirata or Kalmeghphotographed by Dr. M.P. Mishra growing along roadside)

Kirata has several vernacular names. Kirata is its Sanskrit name.Buminimba and Yavatikta are its Hindi names. In English it is called as Kriate, Kre, Kariyat and creat.It is called as Alui in Bengali whereas in Gujrti it is called as Lilum Kariyatun. In Telugu it is called as Nelavembu and in Marathi it is called as Olikiryata. In Ayurveda it is popularly known as Kalmegh, Bhuminimba, Vishwambhar etc. In Unani Medicinal system it is known as Kiryat.

Kirata is erect with a height of 30 to 110cm. The stem is slender, dark green in colour and square in cross section. It has longitudinal furrows and wings along angles on stems. The leaves are lance-shaped having hairless blades and measure up to 8 cm in length. These are about 2.5 cm wide. The inflorescence is spreading raceme. Fruit is capsule which is about 2cm in length and few cm in width. Many yellow brown seeds are contained in it.
Medicinal Properties
After a extensive surveys and interviews with traditional herbalists, and tribal vaidyas the extracts and Pechanga (extracts of all the five parts) are used to cure following ailments in traditional systems –
(i). The extract of the plant has been proved to have anti-bacterial properties,
(ii).It has reported to have anti-viral properties
(iii). Studies show that it improves immunity
(iv). It has been reported to have carminative, diuretic, and anti-gastric propertied,
(v). It is supposed to be a liver tonic,
(vi). It is chloretic, hypoglycemic, hypocholesterolemic, and blood purifier.

Traditionally, the whole plant is cleaned and boiled to get its aqueous extract. This extract is drunk in small quantity to get rid of numerous types of diseases. In Jharkhand tribal men and women can be seen selling this plant in bundles of dried whole. It can be seen being sold in local markets of Jharkhand and people use it without any prescriptions. However, the extract of the plant is contraindicated in cases of bleeding disorders, hypotension, and female sterility, pregnancy, duodenal ulcers, hyperacidity, esophageal reflux etc.

Key Words: Kirata, king of bitters, Acanthaceae,Andrographis paniculata, Tribals of Jharkhand, Pregnancy

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