The white-flowered chitrak plant is a herbal underdog that not many know of. In reality, true to its namesake the spotted leopard, it harnesses a fiery quality that the body can use to its advantage.
The gains mostly lie in its roots. Here’s a quick look at the compounds that help:
Why It’s So Great
1. Promotes Digestive Health
What you eat determines how well you digest. Chitrak is one of the herbs you can eat to maintain the good health and functionality of your digestive system. Its defenses are very targeted.
- Normalizes intestinal microflora:
The large intestine is home to a community of microorganisms (microflora), including over 400 types of bacteria. They help digest undigested carbs, make sure your intestinal wall is intact, and even contribute to your vitamin supply. An imbalance in this community can show up as indigestion, diarrhea, and acid reflux.
Not to worry though. The fiery herb chitrak can help maintain microbial balance, helping your digestive system work more efficiently.
- Protects against stomach acid:
Your stomach wall is protected from corrosive digestive acids by a mucous lining. Bacteria (H. pylori) and conventional painkillers pose a threat to the integrity of this lining. Chitrak does the opposite. It keeps the lining safe by suppressing acid production, inhibiting the growth of problematic bacteria, and increasing mucus secretion by the stomach wall. Two groups of compounds called tannins and flavonoids are responsible here.
2. Helps Limit Inflammation
Inflammation – pain, heat, redness, and swelling – is an immune system tool meant to wall off a threat or irritation in the body. The threat or irritation can be anything from an infection or wound to bones scraping against each other in a joint. Although an essential stage in healing, inflammation, if left unchecked can give way to distressing symptoms. Luckily, chitrak can help your body decelerate the inflammatory process. Its two coumarins, suberosin and seselin, work hard to do just that.
- They first stop immune cells from multiplying. This includes B-cells, T-cells, NK cells, and monocytes. A reduction in immune cells translates to a stifled immune system dialog and less inflammation.
- They also inhibit key molecules designed to make an inflammatory uproar. Suberosin takes care of NFAT and NFκB, while seselin handles IL-2 and IFN-γ.
3. Protects the Heart
Chitrak can help you take care of your heart in a gentle, non-intrusive way. It does this chiefly by regulating two processes involved with the modification of cholesterol into potentially harmful compounds.
- Cholesterol esterification:
Free cholesterol needs to undergo a makeover (esterification) to be absorbed by the intestines. It then travels to the liver to be packaged as different types of cholesterol. LDL-C and VLDL-C are two of the more harmful types.
Chitrak helps inhibit the enzyme ACAT (acyl-CoA: cholesterol acyltransferase) needed for the cholesterol makeover. In effect, less cholesterol is absorbed and fewer “bad” cholesterol packages are made.
- Cholesterol oxidation:
Just as iron on its own means no harm unless beaten into a sword, “bad” cholesterol on its own cannot block the arteries. It needs to be molded into clumps by damaging molecules called free radicals through a process called oxidation.
Chitrak can scavenge free radicals, leaving “bad” cholesterol be and offering the heart additional protection. The compound plumbagin is especially good at removing free radicals.
4. Stabilizes Blood Glucose
Chitrak can help your body closely regulate your blood glucose levels every day – a steady blood glucose level means steady energy. Here again, the plumbagin in chitrak is the main player.
- Increases use of glucose: Chitrak helps increase the activity of hepatic hexokinase, a liver enzyme that uses up glucose for energy production. When it’s put to work, your blood glucose level naturally falls.
- Inhibits enzymes that make more glucose: These include the enzymes glucose-6-phosphatase and fructose-1,6-bisphosphatase.
- Helps cells take up glucose: GLUT4 is a vertical tunnel passing through the surfaces of liver and fat cells. It helps glucose enter the cells from the outside. Plumbagin helps GLUT4 do a better job.
Before getting into how much chitrak you should be having, it’s important to know that this herb is extremely potent. A little goes a long way and is best taken under medical supervision.
Have a maximum of 1–2 gram of powdered chitrak root a day (less than half a teaspoon). You may mix it with honey, lime juice, or ghee to make it more palatable.