Swertia chirata (Chirayata) is a traditional Ayurvedic herb with strongly bitter taste. The whole plant promotes digestion and lowers fevers of various types. It is the main ingredient in sudarshana churna, a formula containing more than 50 herbs. Chirayata contains xanthones, which are reportedly effective against malaria and tuberculosis; and amarogentin, a glycoside that may protect the liver against carbon tetrachloride poisoning. It promotes the flow of bile in liver and also has anticarcinogenic activity. The detoxification enzymes studied viz, reduced glutathione, glutathione peroxidase, superoxide dismutase and catalase were found to be activated to different degrees after the treatment with crude extract and a purified ÂÂamarogentinÂÂ from chirayata. The effect of chirayata extract on apoptosis and cell proliferation has been studied in mice skin exposed to dimethylbenz (a) anthracene. Both the crude and purified extracts significantly inhibited cell proliferation and induced apoptosis. It may cure infectious diseases, tonsilitis, bronchitis, pneumonia, whooping cough, acute enteritis, gastritis, urethritis, nephritis, tuberculosis, gall bladder infection, influenza and high blood pressure. Besides, the antihelmintic, hypoglycemic and antipyretic antifungal and antibacterial properties there are amarogentin (most bitter compound), swerchirin, swertiamarin and other active principles of the herb.