Chirata, B.P. Chiretta.

Related entry: Andrographis

Chiretta, or chirayta, consists of the dried plant, Swertia Chirata, Buch.-Ham. (N.O. Gentianeae), an erect annual herb, indigenous to the mountainous districts of Northern India. The drug is also official in the U.S.P. When the flowering is well advanced the entire plant is collected, dried, and packed into bundles, which are sometimes compressed before exportation. The drug consists chiefly of the stem, which is of a dark purplish-brown colour, quite glabrous, and contains a large continuous pith. In the upper part it branches freely, bearing numerous fruits and flowers, together with a few opposite leaves with prominent curving lateral veins. The fruits are bicarpellary but unilocular, and contain numerous minute brownish seeds. The root is short, stout, and oblique. All parts of the drug have an intensely bitter taste. Various other species of Swertia (e.g., S. angustifolia, Buch.-Ham.; S. alata, Royle; S. trichotoma, Wall.. have been found mixed with or substituted for chiretta. From these the genuine drug may be distinguished by its dark colour, intensely bitter taste, and continuous pith. Andrographis Paniculata, Nees, which has been offered as chiretta, has dark green stems with numerous slender erect opposite branches, few lanceolate green leaves, and a fibrous root. The roots of Rubia cordifolia, Linn., are also occasionally mixed with chiretta; they are readily distinguished by their purple colour.

Constituents.—The plant contains the two bitter principles, ophelic acid and chiratin. The latter occurs in the larger proportion, and yields, by boiling with hydrochloric acid, chiratogenin and ophelic acid, but no sugar. Neither ophelic acid nor chiratin has been obtained in crystals.

Action and Uses.—Chiretta owes its action to its bitterness; it is used in dyspepsia to improve the appetite. At one time it was believed to exert a specific action upon the liver, but there is no evidence to confirm this. It is usuallyadministered in the form of infusion. The preparations of chiretta are without tannin, and may, therefore, be prescribed with iron. Chiretta and kreat (Andrographis) are active ingredients of many advertised bitters. Chiratin has been used in powder form, diluted with milk sugar, but the liquid preparations of chiretta are usually preferred.

Dose.—½ to 2 grammes (5 to 30 grains).


Fluidextractum Chiratae, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF CHIRATA.
Chirata (chiretta), in No. 30 powder, 100; alcohol (49 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—1 mil (15 minims).
Infusum Chiratae, B.P.—INFUSION OF CHIRETTA.
Chiretta, cut small, 5; distilled water, boiling, 100. infuse the drug in the water for fifteen minutes, in a covered vessel and strain. Infusion of chiretta is a bitter stomachic. Dose.—15 to 30 mils (½ to 1 fluid ounce).
Infusum Chiratae Concentratum, B.P.C.—CONCENTRATED INFUSION OF CHIRETTA.
A product closely resembling infusion of chiretta is obtained by diluting 1 part of this preparation with 7 parts of distilled water. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (½ to 1 fluid drachm).
Chiretta, in No. 40 powder, 50; alcohol (20 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. This preparation is prepared by a process of macero-percolation. Infusum Chiratae Concentratum is a better preparation. Concentrated solution of chiretta acts as a simple bitter. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (½ to 1 fluid drachm).
Tinctura Chiratae, B.P.—TINCTURE OF CHIRETTA.
Chiretta, in No. 40 powder, 10; alcohol (60 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Prepare by the percolation process. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (½ to 1 fluid drachm).

The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.