Plumbago zeylanica Linn (also known as Ceylon Leadwort, Chitrak) is used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine to increase longitivity and vitality. It is also an important herb in the Indian and Chinese traditional medicine systems for over 3000 years. The leaves are used as aphrodisiac while roots of Plumbago zeylanica are credited with potential therapeutic properties including antioxidant , hypolipidemic , central nervous system stimulant , antimicrobial activity  and anti-fertility properties .
Why is Plumbago zeylanica added to sport supplements?
Well, the answers is quite simple really. Anything that has a slight chance of some beneficial effect it finds itself in some sport supplement backed with outrageous claims. This plant seems to be one of those cases. Plumbago zeylanica, especially its root extract, is added to stimulant and fat burning products probably due to a few animal studies showing some benefits. However, it is well established that animal studies don’t always translate well to us humans.
Plumbagin (2-methyl-5-hydroxy, 1:4 naphthoquinone), which is the major component of dry weight of the roots, is considered an active component responsible for therapeutic effects . Sharma et al.  isolated plumbagin from roots of Plumbago zeylanica and administered it to hyperlipidaemic rabbits. Results showed reduced serum cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol by 53 to 86 percent and 61 to 91 percent respectively. Treatment with plumbagin not only prevented the accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides in liver and aorta but also significantly elevated decreased HDL-cholesterol .
Study by Bopaiah and Pradhan  investigated effects of extract of the root of Plumbago zeylanica on locomotor behaviour and central dopaminergic activity in rats. Results indicated stimulatory properties of the extract probably via dopaminergic mechanisms in the rat brain.
In vitro studies are also showing significant antioxidant activity . The plant roots extract reveled significant antioxidant activity as compared to standard flavonoid (quercetin) .
Before any conclusions can be made clinical trials are mandatory.
Side effects and precautions of Plumbago zeylanica
Plumbagin, contained in the root of the plant, has been evaluated for toxic side effects in rodents. Side effects may include diarrhea, skin rashes, hepatic and reproductive toxicity .
Tilak, Jai C., Soumyakanti Adhikari, and Thomas Devasagayam. “Antioxidant properties of Plumbago zeylanica, an Indian medicinal plant and its active ingredient, plumbagin.” Redox report 9.4 (2004): 219-227.
- Kanchana, N., and A. Mohamed Sadiq. “Hepatoprotective effect of Plumbago zeylanica on paracetamol induced liver toxicity in rats.” Int. J. Pharm. Pharm. Sci 3.1 (2011): 151-154.
Bopaiah, C. P., and N. Pradhan. “Central nervous system stimulatory action from the root extract of Plumbago zeylanica in rats.” Phytotherapy Research 15.2 (2001): 153-156.
Edwin, Sheeja, Siddheshwar B. Joshi, and Dharam C. Jain. “Antifertility activity of leaves of Plumbago zeylanica Linn. in female albino rats.” European J. of Contraception and Reproductive Healthcare 14.3 (2009): 233-239.
Mallikadevi, T., and S. Paulsamy. “Plumbago zeylanica L.-a potential plant for antimicrobial activity.” Plant Archives 10.2 (2010): 547-550
Gupta, M. M., et al. “Determination of plumbagin by normal-phase high-performance liquid chromatography.” Journal of Chromatography A 637.2 (1993): 209-212.
Sharma, I., Gusain D., and V. P. Dixit. “Hypolipidaemic and antiatherosclerotic effects of plumbagin in rabbits.” Indian journal of physiology and pharmacology 35.1 (1991): 10.
Nile, Shivraj H., and C. N. Khobragade. “Antioxidant activity and flavonoid derivatives of Plumbago zeylanica.” J Nat Prod 3 (2010): 130-3.
Sand, Jordan M., et al. “Plumbagin (5-hydroxy-2-methyl-1, 4-naphthoquinone), isolated from Plumbago zeylanica, inhibits ultraviolet radiation-induced development of squamous cell carcinomas.” Carcinogenesis 33.1 (2012): 184-190.