What is Haritaki and How Does It Benefit Your Health?

Once upon a time Ashwini Kumar brothers questioned Daksha Prajapati about origin, synonyms, types, taste, description, properties and therapeutics of Haritaki (Terminalia chebula Retz.). Daksha Prajapati told that when Lord Indra was consuming the nectar (Amrita), one drop fell on the ground and it was from here the seven varieties of Haritaki originated.

Haritaki originates from the Himalayas, is of green color and cures all diseases, hence known as Haritaki.

Ayurveda classifies Haritaki in various groups like Amlakyadi, Jvaraghana, Kasaghana and Triphala. Haritaki is a member of family Combertaceae. Abhya, Amrita, Avyatha, Bishakpriyavigia, Chetaki, Haritaki, Hemvati, Jivanti, Kayastha, Putna, Rohini, Shiva, Shreyasi, Sudha, Vijya, and Vyastha are Ayurvedic synonyms. In English it is known as Chebulic myrobalan.

T.chebula is found in India. T. chebula is a tall tree with dark brown bark. Flowers are pale yellow. Fruit is oval and hard; green when unripe and pale brown on ripening. It contains tannic acid, gallic acid and chebulinic acid.

Rasa (Taste) is Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour), Katu (Pungent), Tikata (Bitter) and Kshaya (Astringent). In Guna (Physical property), it is Laghu (Light) and Ruksha. Virya (Potency) is Ushana (Hot). Vipaka (Post digestion effect) is Madhura (Sweet). Haritaki pacifies Vata, Pitta and Kapha. As per Karma (Specific action), it is Rasayana (Tonic).

Types: Bhavapraksha has described seven varieties of harutaki viz; Abhya, Amrita, Chetaki, Jivanti, Putna, Rohini and Vijya. Abhya originated from Champa, Amrita originated from Champa, Chetaki originated from Himalayas, Jivanti originated from Sortha, Putna originated from Sindhu, Rohini is found everywhere and Vijya originated from Vindhyachala.

Features of seven varieties

  1. Vijya is round in appearance.
  2. Rohini is oval.
  3. Putna has large pericarp but less pulp.
  4. Amrita has large pulp.
  5. Abhya constitutes five lines.
  6. Jivanti has a pale yellow color similar to gold.
  7. Chetaki constitutes three lines.

Haritaki and biological humours

Sour taste pacifies vata, sweet, bitter and astringent taste pacifies pitta and pungent, bitter and astringent taste pacifies kapha. Thus in Ayurveda, haritaki is Tridoshahara (pacifies three biological humours).

Haritaki and five tastes

Sweet taste resides in fruit pulp, sour taste resides in, pungent taste resides in, pungent taste resides in pericarp and astringent taste resides in epicarp.

Features of good quality of Haritaki:

  1. Fresh.
  2. Unctuousness
  3. Thick
  4. Round in appearance
  5. Heavy
  6. When put in water, it sinks
  7. Weight should be equal to two fruits of Bibihtaka (Terminalia belerica).

Special properties of Haritaki

  1. If chewed, Haritaki stimulates appetite.
  2. Powdered Haritaki induces laxation.
  3. Boiled Haritaki prevents diarrhea
  4. Fried Haritaki pacifies vata, pitta and kapha.
  5. If consumed with meals, Haritaki is beneficial for intelligence, strength and nerves. It pacifies three biological humours and removes the waste products (including urine and stools). If Haritaki is consumed after meals, it cures all diseases arising out form wrong dietary intake and imbalanced three biological humors.
  6. Haritaki taken with rock-salt is helpful in alleviating kapha.
  7. Haritaki taken with sugar is helpful in alleviating pitta.
  8. Haritaki taken with ghee is helpful in alleviating vata.
  9. Haritaki taken with jaggery is helpful in alleviating all diseases.

Haritaki and seasons

  1. During the summer season, Haritaki should be taken with jaggery.
  2. During rainy season, Haritaki should be taken with rock salt.
  3. During autumns, Haritaki should be taken with sugar.
  4. During early winter, Haritaki should be taken with sunthi or dried ginger (Zingiber officinale).
  5. During late winter, Haritaki should be taken with pippali (Piper longum).
  6. During spring, Haritaki should be taken with honey.

Therapeutics: As per Bhavpraksha Nighantu, Haritaki is an appetizer, good for improving the capacity of the brain, prolongs life, beneficial for the eyes, tonic and anti vata. It cures asthma, cough, diabetes insipidus, hemorrhoids, skin diseases, edema, abdominal diseases, worm infestation, hoarseness of voice, malabsorption, constipation, malaria, abdominal tumor, tympanitis, ulcers, vomiting or emesis, hiccough, disease of the throat, hearty aliments, jaundice, colicky pain, disease of liver and spleen, dysuria and anuria. Fresh fruit of being mild laxative and used in the treatment of constipation. Ripe fruit is astringent. Basically T. chebula is tonic and given with various vehicles in different seasons.

As per Madanpal Nighantu, Haritaki cures hoarseness or voice, malabsorption, constipation, periodic fever, abdominal tumor, tympanitis, ulcer, emesis, hiccough, heart-diseases, jaundice, colic, gaseous distension, and spleen diseases.

As per Dhanwantry Nighantu, Haritaki astringent, sour, pungent, bitter and sweet. It pacifies Vata, Pitta and Kapha, sets up emaciation, light, nootropic, beneficial for the eyes, cures polyuria, leprosy, ulcer, emesis, edema, gout and dysuria, acts as carminative, beneficial for heart and cure diseases associated with obesity.

Contraindications of Haritaki therapy: Thirst, stomatitis (ulcers in the mouth), trismus or lockjaw, diarrhea, diseases of the throat, acute fever, malnutrition and pregnancy.

Parts used: Fruit.

Dose: Powder (3-6 G).

Formulations based on Haritaki: Abhyarishta, Chitraka haritaki, Danti haritaki, Haritaki khanda, Triphala churana and Vyaghri haritaki. Standardization procedure of the medicinal plants used in Abhayarishta has been done.

Non-clinical studies: Antibacterial, anticancer, antifungal, anti-mutagenic, antispasmodic, cytotoxic, cardio-tonic, hypolipidemic, hypotensive, immunosupresasant and prokinetic.

  1. Sohni and Bhatt (1996) reported antiprotozoal activity of a combination of Terminalia chebula, Boerhavia diffusa, Berberis aristata, Tinospora cordifolia and Zingiber officinale.)
  2. Jagtap and Karkera (1999) reported antibacterial activity of an aqueous extract of chebula against Streptococcus mutans.
  3. Phadke and Kulkarni (1989) reported antibacterial activity of crude extract of chebula against variety of pathogenic bacteria.
  4. Dutta et al (1998) reported antifungal activity of aqueous extract of chebula.
  5. Thakur et al (1988) reported hypolipidemic activity of chebula.

References

Gaind, K.N. & Saini, T.S. (1965): Identification of purgative principle of Terminalia chebula Retz. , Indian J. Pharm., Vol.30 (10), PP.233-234.

Sharma Poonam J, Jolly CI. Standardisation of the medicinal plants used in the formulation of Abhayarishta. Sachitra Ayur 1992; 44:753-9.

Tamhane, M.D. et al., (1997): Effect of oral administration of Terminalia chebula on gastric emptying: an experimental study. J Postgrad Med 1997; 43:12-3.

Wadher SJ, Puranik M, Yeole PG, Lokhande CS. Determination of ethanol in abhayarishta by gas chromatography. Indian J Pharm Sci 2007; 69:152-4.

Additional Reading:

The development of Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae) in clinical research

6 Easily Available Herbs That boost Your Immunity 

All Natural Haritaki Powder

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