haritaki

Haritaki Benefits, Uses, Botanical Description, Side Effects, Scientific Research

Haritaki is a very well known herb. It is used as a rasayana in Ayurveda. This means it is an herb with rejuvenating properties. It is also one of the three components of the classical Ayurvedic formulation, Triphala.

Haritaki is known as chebulic myrobalan or black myrobalan in English and consists of dried pericarp, the edible tissue that develops around a seed.

Botanical Description Of Haritaki or Chebulic Myrobalan

Haritaki is found in Southeast Asian countries like India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Thailand, and China.

Botanical Name: Terminalia chebula
Botanical Family: Combretaceae

  • Terminalia chebula is a medium to large deciduous tree.
  • It can grow up to 25-30 meters (approximately 80-100 feet) in height.
  • Its tree trunk is usually one meter (approximately 3.3 feet) in diameter.
  • It has cylindrical bole, rounded and spreading branches.
  • The Haritaki tree’s leaves are alternate to sub-opposite in arrangement.
  • The leaf buds, branches, and youngest leaves are covered with soft, shining, and rust colored hairs.
  • Terminalia chebula flowers are dull-white to yellow in color and have an unpleasant odor.
  • Fruits of the Haritaki or chebulic myrobalan tree ripen from November to March depending on the geographical location.
  • The fruits are smooth, ellipsoid to ovoid drupes. The color of fruits is yellow to orange-brown in color, with a single angled stone.
  • Its dried fruit is used as a material in the tanning and dyeing industries  

haritakiSanskrit Synonyms With Ayurvedic Meanings 1
Abhaya: It keeps the fear of sickness at bay.
Avyatha: It keeps one free from pain.
Pathya: It is beneficial or acceptable for the body.
Kayastha: It is very useful for the body.
Pootna: It helps in expelling stools and harmful vayu or gas from the body. It acts as a laxative.
Chetaki: It cleanses the various channels in the body.
Shreyasi: It is very beneficial to consume.
Shiva: Its consumption is beneficial.

Haritaki Benefits + Haritaki Uses In Ayurveda 2

Rasa or Taste: It contains five rasas (madhura or sweet, amla or sour, katu or pungent, tikta or bitter, kashaya or astringent). Its taste, however, is predominantly astringent.
Guna or Qualities: Laghu or light and ruksha or dry
Virya or Potency: Ushna or hot
Vipaka or taste conversion after digestion: Madhura or sweet
Effect on dosha: Haritaki is tridosha hara. This means that it brings all three doshas into equilibrium.
Parts used: Fruit 3
Prescribed Dosage in Ayurvedic Herbology: 3 to 6 grams 3

Popular Ayurvedic Formulations 3

  • Abhaya Modaka
  • Abhaya Arishta
  • Pathyadi Vati
  • Pathyadi Kwatha
  • Vyaghri Haritaki
  • Chitrak Haritaki
  • Agastya Haritaki
  • Danti Haritaki
  • Haritaki Khanda
  • Pathyadi Churna

Ayurvedic Uses of Haritaki 4

  • Haritaki paste, when applied topically, helps in reducing swelling and pain. It also acts as a wound cleanser.
  • It is helpful in various skin disorders.
  • It strengthens the nervous system.
  • It improves cognition.
  • It keeps the eyes and other sense organs healthy.
  • It improves digestion.
  • It is helpful in improving liver function.
  • It promotes regular bowel movements.
  • It is a natural laxative.
  • It is helpful in worm infestation.
  • It also helps with diarrhea. Haritaki is known to absorb water and add bulk to stools. However, the method of taking Haritaki differs in the case of diarrhea and constipation.
  • It is good for cardiac health.
  • It is good for uterine health.
  • It has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • It is a diuretic.
  • It is helpful in relieving fever.
  • It is helpful in relieving abdominal cramps and bloating.
  • It is useful for treating hemorrhoids.
  • It is useful in splenomegaly.
  • It might be helpful for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • It is useful in treating cough, cold, hoarseness of voice, and hiccups.
  • Haritaki is helpful for leucorrhoea.

Ritu Haritaki: Seasonal Use Of Terminalia Chebula 5

When Haritaki is consumed as a rejuvenating herb, it is taken with different anupana or vehicles (mediums) for different seasons. Haritaki consumed with different mediums according to the seasons is known as Ritu Haritaki.

Here’s what Ayurveda prescribes for different seasons.

  • During monsoon, haritaki should be used with saindhava lavana or rock salt.
  • During the fall, it should be used with sharkara or sugar.
  • Right before winter, it should be used with shunthi or dry ginger.
  • During winter, it should be used with pippali or long pepper (Piper longum).
  • For spring, it should be used with madhu or honey.
  • For summer, it should be used with guda or jaggery.

Read More: Why You Should Take Ashwagandha With Milk

Haritaki Contraindications 3

Even though haritaki is useful for a slew of conditions and has a plethora of benefits, it is still contraindicated in people with the following conditions.

  • Chronic fatigue
  • People who are lacking in physical strength
  • People experiencing an overabundance of ruksha or dryness
  • Underweight
  • During or right after breaking a fast
  • Post Ayurvedic bloodletting treatment
  • In low Pitta disorders
  • Pregnancy
  • Excessive thirst, dry mouth, stiffness of the jaw, and the initial stages of fever

Chemical Composition of Terminalia Chebula 6

The fruits of haritaki or terminalia chebula are rich in tannins (about 32%-34%). The tannins in haritaki are of the pyrogallol (hydrolyzable) type. Here are the 14 components of hydrolyzable tannins.

  • Gallic acid, chebulagic acid, punicalagin, chebulanin, corilagin, neo chebulinic acid, ellagic acid, chebulinic acid, 1,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-β-D-glucose, 1,6-di-o-galloyl-D-glucose, casuarinin, 3,4,6-tri-o-galloyl-D-glucose, terchebulin).
  • Other chemical components include phenolics such as chebulinic acid, ellagic acid and anthraquinones.
  • Some minor components are polyphenols such as corilagin, galloyl glucose, punicalagin, terflavin A, maslinic acid, fructose, amino acids, succinic acid, beta sitosterol, and resin.
  • Flavonol, glycosides, triterpenoids, coumarin conjugated with gallic acids called chebulin as well as other phenolic compounds have also been isolated from Haritaki.
  • Haritaki also contains twelve fatty acids out of which palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and oleic acid were main constituents.
  • Triterpenoid glycosides such as chebulosides I and II, arjunin, arjunglucoside, 2α-hydroxyursolic acid and 2α-hydroxy micromiric acid also have been found.
  • The leaves of haritaki contain polyphenols such as punicalin, punicalagin, terflavins B, C, and D.
  • The plant is found to contain phloroglucinol and pyrogallol, along with phenolic acids such as ferulic, p-coumaric, caffeic and vanillic acids.
  • Oil extracted from kernels yielded palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, behenic and arachidic acids.

Scientific Research On Haritaki 6

Scientific research on haritaki has demonstrated the following properties and activities.

Antioxidant Activity

The leaves, bark, and fruits of haritaki or terminalia chebula show antioxidant activity. Phenolics present in haritaki are responsible for their antioxidant action.

Anti-carcinogenic Activity

The fruit of haritaki or terminalia chebula has shown an inhibitory action on cancer cell growth in some clinical studies. This action was due to phenolics present in its fruits.

Chebulinic acid, tannic acid and ellagic acid are the main phenolics responsible for its anti-carcinogenic activity

Antimutagenic, Radioprotective, And Chemopreventive Activity

Research has shown that haritaki or terminalia chebula has antimutagenic, radioprotective and chemopreventive activity.

Hepatoprotective Properties

Some studies have shown that ethanol extracts of haritaki are helpful in the hepatotoxicity caused by the administration of rifampicin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide (combination).

Cardioprotective Properties 

A study performed on rats showed that haritaki has protective activity in myocardial damage.

Cytoprotective Activity

Some studies document the cytoprotective effect of haritaki fruits on oxidative stress and an inhibitory effect on cellular aging.

Antidiabetic Activity

A study done on rats showed that fruits and seeds of haritaki exhibited dose dependent reduction in blood glucose both in short term and long term study.

Renoprotective Properties

Studies also suggest that haritaki have renoprotective activity.

Antibacterial Activity

Haritaki or terminalia chebula has exhibited antibacterial activity against a number of both gram positive and gram negative human pathogenic bacteria.

Antifungal Activity

An aqueous extract of haritaki has exhibited antifungal activity against a number of dermatophytes and yeast samples.

Antiviral Activity

Many studies suggest that haritaki shows antiviral activity against a number of viruses like influenza A virus, herpes simplex virus and human cytomegalovirus (CMV), and more.

Antiprotozoal Activity

Studies suggest that haritaki showed antiprotozoal activity in infections like Entamoeba histolytica and Plasmodium falciparum.

Anti-inflammatory And Anti-arthritic Properties

Studies on mice suggested that haritaki shows significant anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic activities.

Adaptogenic And Antianaphylactic Activities

A study done on animals showed that haritaki was able to aid the animals against a variety of different stressors.

Animal studies also showed that when extract of haritaki or terminalia chebula was administered following an induction of anaphylactic shock, the serum histamine levels were reduced, indicating its strong antianaphylactic action.

Hypolipidemic And Hypocholesterolemic Activity

Extracts of Haritaki have shown hypolipidemic activity against experimentally induced atherosclerosis.

A study done on rabbits revealed that haritaki also has hypocholesterolemic activity.

Improved Gastrointestinal Motility And Anti-ulcerogenic Activity

Studies have demonstrated that terminalia chebula fruit increases gastric emptying time.

This action appeared to be balanced with a protective effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa, with the improvement in the secretory status of Brunner’s gland. As a result, it is proven to be helpful in the protection against duodenal ulcers.

Antispasmodic Activity

Studies revealed that haritaki is helpful in relieving intestinal spasms.

Anticaries Activity

Some studies have suggested that oral rinsing with an extract of haritaki or terminalia chebula was found to significantly reduce both total bacterial counts and streptococcal counts in saliva samples. This study demonstrated the potential role of haritaki or terminalia chebula in the prevention of dental caries.

Wound Healing Activity

A study on mice showed that topical administration of an alcoholic extract of terminalia chebula leaves are helpful in treating dermal wounds.

The wounds treated with taritaki healed faster as indicated by improved rates of contraction and decreased period of epithelialization.

Purgative Properties

The purgative action of an oil fraction from haritaki has been documented. A short term clinical trials on patients with simple constipation revealed that haritaki or terminalia chebula acts as a laxative.

Immunomodulatory Activity

A study on mice revealed that an aqueous extract of terminalia chebula produced an increase in humoral antibody titer and delayed hypersensitivity in mice.

Anti-allergic Activity

A study on guinea pigs revealed that haritaki has anti-allergic properties.

Please consult your Ayurvedic practitioner or general physician before chaning your diet or lifestyle, and before taking Ayurvedic supplements including haritaki.

References

  1. Adarsh Nighantu, vol. 1, page no.550-551, by Shri Bapalal Vaidya, Chaukhambha Bharti Academy, 2016.
  2. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.755, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  3. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.757, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  4. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.755-756, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  5. Dravyaguna Vijnana by Aacharya Priyavrat Sharma, Volume 2, page no.756, Chaukhamba Bharati Academy, 2017.
  6. Bag, Anwesa et al. “The development of Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae) in clinical research” Asian Pacific journal of tropical biomedicine vol. 3,3 (2013): 244-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3631759/

 

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Dr. Alka Sharma, BAMS is an Ayurvedic practitioner and an avid learner of the field. She graduated with a Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) from Dayanand Ayurvedic College, Jalandhar, Punjab in India. She has been practicing Ayurvedic medicine and doing related work for the last six years. She works as an independent consultant in Ayurveda through online consultancy services. She has a personal app on the Google play store where she consults patients on their health problems following the Ayurveda medical sciences. She additionally has a Masters degree in Business Administration for Health Sciences from Sikkim Manipal University (SMU), India.

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