The dried plant Swer'tia chira'yita Hamilton.
HABITAT.—Nepal and other parts of Northern India.
DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—Chirata of the market consists principally of short sections of the stem and branches, orange-brown or dark purple in color, generally pressed and split, showing the yellow pith, and mixed with a few leaves and flower panicles. These stems when entire are about 4 mm. (1/6 in.) in thickness, round at base and quadrangular toward the top, jointed, the internodes being from 37 to 100 mm . (1 1/2 to 4 in.) in length; branches opposite. Inodorous when dry, but when moistened it has a perceptible odor; taste very bitter, persistent.
In the Indian bazaars there are a number of species of Ophelia, known by the name of Chiretta, which possess, to a greater or less degree, the bitter properties of that drug. Flückiger states: "We have frequently examined the chiretta found in the English market, but have never met with any other than the legitimate sort." Bentley noticed, in 1874, the substitution of O. angustifolia, which he found by far to be less bitter than the true chiretta. J. S. Ward ("Pharm. Jour.," 4th Series, 1, 1897) calls attention to a false chirata entering the eastern market. He recognized it as the product of Andrographia paniculata, nat. ord. Acanthraceae, a plant distributed throughout India from Lucknow and Assam to Ceylon, and cultivated in the West—domestic remedy for fevers, debility, etc. Sold by herbalists in the fresh state.
Powder.—Grayish-brown. Characteristic elements: Parenchyma of medulla, slightly lignified with simple pores; sclerenchyma with fibers, long, narrow, and thick-walled; tracheids, numerous; ducts with spiral or scalariform markings; yellowish-brown pollen and stomata present.
CONSTITUENTS.—Chiratin, C26H48O15 (yellow, hygroscopic powder, very bitter), ophelic acid, C13H20O11 (a syrupy liquid,very bitter), resin, coloring matter, bitter extractive, gum, and salts. Water and alcohol extract its virtues.
ACTION AND USES.—Bitter tonic like the other plants of the order Gentianae. Dose: 15 gr. (1 Gm.).
- OFFICIAL PREPARATIONS.
- Tinctura Chiratae (10 per cent.) (1890), Dose: 1/2 to 2 fl. dr. (2 to 8 mils).
- Fluidextractum Chiratae 15 drops (1 mil).
A Manual of Organic Materia Medica and Pharmacognosy, 1917, was written by Lucius E. Sayre, B.S. Ph. M.