Chitrak | Plumbago Zeylanica

Source: Native Plants Hawaii

Source: Native Plants Hawaii

A species with in the Plumbaginaceae family is known as Plumbago zeylanicum in Latin or known as Citraka in Sanskrit. Citraka is recognized by its ability to cure diseases rapidly. Having an amazing ability to clear toxins, the herb is used for a variety of illnesses ranging from bronchial difficulties to reducing inflammation. It has a hot energy and should be used in small amounts. This plant is a perennial shrub with stout roots, which are cylindrical. A light yellow juice is within the yellowish brown root. It's nickname is the "spotted one," in correlation to the leopard who catches it's prey with swiftness, as does citraka, having the ability to quickly cure disease (Pole, 2006).

Botany and Ecology

Latin Name: Plumbago Zeylanica

Common Name: White Leadwort

Spotted One

Jvala (flame)


Citraka, Chitraka, or Chitrak

Plant Nomenclature

Kingdom: plantai- plants

Division: Magnoliophyta -flowering plants

Class: Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons

Family: plumbaginaceae- leadwort family


The Plumbago Zeylanica has light blue and white flowers which rise in the late

summers of India.The flowers have a tubular corolla with five petal like lobes. The flowers have glanular hairs which secrete sticky mucilage that my be used for trapping insects as a method to protect it's pollen. The species includes herbaceous plants and shrubs. It grows .5-2m high. The leaves are spirally arranged, simple, entire, 5-12cm long with a tapered base. The margin will be hairy. It will grow from 36 inches to 48 inches tall.


The plant lives in India in wile state. This plant can also be found being cultivated in gardens. Plumbago enjoys subtropical or warm temperate climates. It can be grown in green houses in cool climates. You may find it in palm groves, thickets, shandy hummocks, shell mounds, rocky places in open areas.

Primary Constituents

Naphthalene derivatives, plumbagin, chitranone, amino acids and zeylinon (Pole, 2006).

Nine compounds were isolated as plumbagin (I), isoshinanolone (II), plumbagic acid (III), beta-sitosterol (IV), 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde (V), trans-cinnamic acid (VI), vanillic acid (VII), 2, 5-dimethyl-7-hydroxychromone (VIII), indole-3-carboxaldehyde (IX). CONCLUSION: Compounds V, VII, VIII and IX were isolated for the first time from Plumbago Linn (Cai, 2007).


Should not be used by children, pregnant or lactating women (Pole, 2006) Also should not be taken with those who have high pitta.

Ayurvedic Information

Rasa (Taste)

The Rasas involved with Plumbago. is katu (pungent) and tikta (bitter). It is a digestive and is easy to digest (Sitaram, 2006).

Virya (Potent Energy)

The virya of Plumbago. is ushna (heating) (Sitaram 2006)

Vipaka (Post Digestive Effect)

During the last phase of the digestion, which takes place in the colon, there is a final effect that manifests from taste. This is called vipaka. The vipaka of Plumbago. is pungent. Derived from the pungent substances this vipaka tends to cause hemorrhoids, irritation of the colon, and dry skin conditions. When consuming more of the bitter tastes this vipaka can be antipyretic (cooling), having an effect on the reproductive system, diminishing sperm count. From astringent tastes osteoporosis, pain in the joints, and giving rise to fistulae and fissures can occur (Lad, 2002). It aggravates Vata and has a catabolic action.

Srotamsi (Bodily Channels and Systems)

The herb Plumbago. works on three channels of the body. The first srotamsi is anna vaha srotas the digestive tract. Sense Plumbago. has a pungent vipaka is works on the shukra and artava vaha srotas (male and female reproduction). The third channel is that of majja vaha srotas, which is that of the nerves.

Therapeutic Value and Research

Alleviates Kapha and Vata disorders, but will aggravate pitta.

This herb is categorized as a lekaniya or reducing herb, bhedaniya a breaking down herb, as well as dipaniya an appetizer. (Hergal Cure, 2010).


Astudy was taken where plumbagin was isolated from Plumbago zeylanica and had shown to possess anticancer activity (Karger 2010). A study was taken by Sandur in Texas, to show the benefits of chitrak in the development of cancer.

Agents that can suppress STAT3 activation have potential not only for prevention but also for treatment of cancer. In the present report, we investigated whether 5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone (plumbagin), an analogue of vitamin K, and isolated from chitrak (Plumbago zeylanica), an Ayurvedic medicinal plant, can modulate the STAT3 pathway. We found that plumbagin inhibited both constitutive and interleukin 6-inducible STAT3 phosphorylation in multiple myeloma (MM) cells and this correlated with the inhibition of c-Src, Janus-activated kinase (JAK)1, and JAK2 activation.

Plumbago zeylanica for the cure of antioxidant and anticancer drugs, as the elements Na, K, Ca, Zn, Fe, Mn, Sr, Cu and Co are the highest in leaves, followed by those is in roots. Many anticancer herbs usually show comparatively rich Zn, Mn, Fe, as well as Cr,Sr and Cu. Plumbago zeylanica exists with abundant Zn, Mn and Fe and a certain amount of Cr, Sr and Cu (Tan, 2009).


Chitraka has been found to help with joints . Joint pathologies that have a cold, wet, damp, swelling, and water retention qualities, such as arthritis are balanced with the use of chitraka (Pole, 2006).

Anti Bacterial

Another study done indicated plumbago zeylancica's ability to kill test bacteria at the level lower than it's MIC (Ahamd 2007).

Researchers from Physiology Institute of Basic Medical Science have explored the structure of the herb's active principle to be similar to that of Vit K (Devi, 2006).

Piles, gulma, difficult swelling, and promoting digestion

These are all alleviated with this remedy from Charak Samhita, which is citraka, dhanyaka, yavani, jiraka, sauvarcala, trikatu, amlavetasa, bilwa, dadima, qavaksara, pippalimula, cavya. Crushing this into a paste with ghee and cooked into water making a medicated ghee will alleviate such pathologies (Drdhabala 1994).

Malabsorption or dysentery, skin diseases, edema, haemorrhoids, intestinal worms, and cough

These are all cured from citraka (Sitaram, 2006). For such disorders as abdominal tumors, sprue, and abdominal pain due to indigestion, one can mix citraka, nagara, hingu, pippali, pippalijata, chavya, ajamoda, maricha, sarjika, yavakshara, saindhava, sauvarchala, bida, samudrika. Once mixed into a juice it can dry in the sun and be taken internally (Sarngadhara, 1997).


The root of the plant will increase digestive power and promote appetite. A tincture of the root is used in secondary syphilis in leprosy and in dyspepsia, piles, flatulence, loss of appetite and other digestive complaints. Being a antiseptic the root mixed with oil can be used for rheumatism, paralytic affections, in enlarged glands, and in cases of buboes. The herb will cure leucoderma. It is a good remedy for post partum hemorrhage. For scabies skin disorders, and ophthalmic the milk is used. The scraped root when put into the mouth of the womb will cause abortion of child (Mother Herbs).


Plumbago. is also used for worms, indigestion, sprew, bronchial conditions, stimulates perception, paractolises stimulation, enhances tone of GIT, Chronic dyspepsia, anorexia, nemonia, stimulates gastric secretions, and kindles digestion (Class notes, 2010).


Due to citraka's ability to stimulate movement within the body it used to move stagnated kapha due to congestion or weakenss (Pole, 2006).


Plumbago Zeylanica, has been a plant used within the scope of Ayurvedic medicine, found in the primary text of Ayurveda such as Carak Samhita, dating back thousands of years ago. Its properties allowed it to be favored amongst those with the primary dosha being that of Vata or Pitta. It works on specific tissues of the body such as the blood, bone, and reproductive tissues. Citraka has been researched only minimally by science, but studies have been done to show it's valuable medicinal qualities. Not only has it been studied to help wit the development of cancer cells, but it has qualities that will strengthen the digestion, being a remover of paracitical amebas. Plumbago Zeylanica is a brilliant herb that can be used in human pathology. It has been well known in the medical field of Ayurveda and within time will be well researched within science.


Aqil F, Ahmad I. Antibacterial properties of traditionally used Indian medicinal plants. 2007 Department of Agricultural Microbiology, Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh, India.

Devi RS. Plumbago zeylanica action on blood coagulation profile with and without blood volume reduction. 2006 Department of Physiology, Dr. ALM PG Institute of Basic Medical Sciences,

Drdhabala, Carak Samhita, Vol. 2 1994 Second Edition, Globe offset Press, New Delhi, India.

HerbalCure India. 2001.

Mother Herbs. Used 3-20-2010

Nitsch Colette and Nitsch J. P, FloralInduction short day plant. 1969. Gifsur Yvette, France.

Pandanus Database of Plants. 1998.

Pole, Sebation, 2006. Ayurvedic Medicine, the principles of traditional practice. Elseveir Ltd. Pg. 156.

The Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, Part 1 Vol. Pg 39-40 Government of India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Ayush,

Tan MX, Analysis of macroelements and microelements in Chinese traditional medicine Plumbago zeylanica Linn by ICP-AES College of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410083, China.

S. Karger AG, Basel. Plumbagin, Isolated from Plumbago zeylanica, Induces Cell Death through Apoptosis in Human Pancreatic Cancer Cells 2010.

Sandur SK Department of Experimental Therapeutics, The University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Box 143, Houston, TX 77030, USA.

Sarngadhara, , Sarngadhara Samhita Section 2, Third Edition, 1997. Golghar, Near Maidagen.

Sitaram, Bulusu, Bhavaprakasa of Bhavamisra 2006. Charu Printers, India.

Zhong Yao Cai. Chemical constituents from aerial parts of Plumbago zeylanica Linn 2007 Pharmacy of College.