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Haritaki is one of the Ayurvedic herbs which comes from the seeds of the tree, Terminalia chiluba. It is also commonly called chebulic myrobalan. In Ayurveda, haritaki is one of the key ingredients of 'Triphala'. It is widely used in various rejuvenation therapies. Haritaki has many benefits for human health, especially for the gastrointestinal tract.

Haritaki consists of elements which are claimed to possess healing effects including antibacterial, antidiabetic and antioxidant properties. It even possesses anticancer properties. Haritaki is very beneficial as it contains essential vitamins, minerals and proteins.

The tree is indigenous to Southern Asia. The distribution of haritaki ranges from India and Nepal in the North, Southwestern China in the East, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, and Malaysia in the South. The part of the plant used is basically a fruit in the shape of an oval with sizes varying from 2-4.5 cm in length and 1.2-2.5 cm in breadth approximately with 5 longitudinal ridges.

The fruit turns into a greenish-black colour when ripe. It is harvested when it is still green in colour. The Haritaki fruit can taste sweet, bitter or sour depending upon its type and classification. There are 7 types of haritaki which are: Vijaya, Rohini, Putane, Amruta, Abhaya, Jivanti and Chetak. The many benefits of haritaki have been discussed in the article below.

Some basic facts about Haritaki

  • Scientific Name: Terminalia chiluba
  • Family:  Combretaceae
  • Common Name: Black myrobalan
  • Sanskrit NameHaritaki
  • Native Region and Geographical Distribution: Native to South Asia
  1. Takeaway
  2. Health benefits of haritaki
  3. Side effects of haritaki

Haritaki is a herbal tree with many valuable medical applications. It is well-known for preventing ageing, improving immunity and body resistance against diseases. It is also used extensively in several Ayurveda formulations for curing infectious diseases. Haritaki holds antimicrobial activities and much more. However, research states if taken in excessive amounts, it can lead to toxic effects. A moderate quantity of haritaki is very beneficial.

Haritaki is a source of manganese, selenium, potassium, iron, copper and Vitamin C. It consists of chemicals such as tannic acid, gallic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid and behenic acid. The various health benefits of haritaki have been mentioned below. 

  1. Haritaki for weight loss
  2. Haritaki for digestion
  3. Haritaki churna for constipation
  4. Haritaki for acidity
  5. Haritaki for diabetes
  6. Haritaki for mouth ulcers
  7. Haritaki for memory
  8. Haritaki for heart
  9. Haritaki for skin
  10. Haritaki for hair
  11. Haritaki for arthritis
  12. Haritaki against pathogens
  13. Haritaki boosts immunity

Haritaki for weight loss

Haritaki powder can prove to be very effective for weight loss as it regulates hunger.  This speeds up the metabolism rate which in return reduces the fat content in the body. If an individual is already undergoing a diet or weight loss program, haritaki can help keep the weight off.

Triphala with its amalaki and bibhitaki, combined with haritaki can be more efficient as a herbal method of losing weight. This plant helps alleviate the burden on your liver which is a common reason behind the difficulty to lose weight. Statistical analysis has revealed that people consuming haritaki were able to lose weight more effectively within a shorter duration of time. 

(Read more: Diet chat for weight loss)

Haritaki for digestion

Consumption of haritaki can increase nutrient absorption, cleansing of the colon, along with speeding up the elimination time. Haritaki helps in the removal of toxins from the body and keeps the digestive system healthy. It works as a natural purifier in the blood flow. It can improve gastrointestinal health due to its enhanced ability to absorb minerals, vitamins and antioxidants. The haritaki fruit is considered to be a premier detoxifier and blood purifier in Ayurveda. It cleanses the intestinal tract and increases the absorption of minerals.

Haritaki churna for constipation

Haritaki churna is a natural laxative or purgative which contains numerous dietary fibres. These fibres help fight against constipation. If you are suffering from problems of constipation,  consume haritaki in the form of powder mixed in water. Preparing haritaki powder is a fairly simple process. It is basically taking the haritaki fruit and removing the seed. The next step is sun drying the seed and peeling the outer skin. The seed is then ground which makes fine haritaki powder. The bioactive compound, tannin present in haritaki is responsible for its laxative properties.

Haritaki for acidity

Haritaki can decrease excessive acidity in the stomach and can even help prevent painful peptic and gastric ulcers. This is done by elevating the production of mucus in the stomach. Studies have found that the Terminalia chebula fruit is very rich in antioxidant polyphenols which can shield the body and diminish the risk of developing stomach troubles and ulcers. It also has a protective function against several gastrointestinal diseases like piles, enlargement of liver and spleen, worms etc.

Haritaki for diabetes

High blood sugar levels combined along with the decrease in insulin sensitivity is the primary cause of diabetes. Compounds in Haritaki are found to help in lowering blood sugar. This study demonstrated that an extract of the Haritaki fruit has shown a significant glucose lowering effect in the blood. Haritaki helps to keep the blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity in the body on track. It aids in the treatment of diabetes. Chebulic acid found in haritaki is one of the main ingredients in increasing the vital production of insulin which is produced by the pancreas. This has the effect of reducing the blood sugar levels throughout the body. 

Haritaki for mouth ulcers

Haritaki fruit or its powder is also used for treating mouth ulcers, oral sores and gum diseases. Customarily in India, the Haritaki mouthwash is made by crushing a number of dried fruits and boiling them in water. To get rid of ulcers, the haritaki powder is mixed with mouthwash and swished around the mouth few times a day for best results. It is also found to be of aid for dental caries if used regularly. 

Haritaki for memory

Regular use of haritaki improves memory due to beneficial effects on the nerves of the brain. Haritaki is known to awaken the non-mechanical parts of the brain. It enhances the subtle energy which helps give rise to various parts of the brain, making the brain and body feel rejuvenated  Consuming haritaki increases awareness and makes the individual more capable and intelligent. 

Haritaki for heart

Haritaki helps in the purification of blood that flows in the body. The clean blood stops the building up of fat in the arteries, especially the coronary artery. This can lead to a reduction in blood pressure, a stronger heart and result in arteries without accumulated fat in it. The heart muscles grow stronger with the purification of blood.

Haritaki for skin

Haritaki has incredible antibacterial properties which make it effective for the treatment of acne. Haritaki powder and boiled water make a paste which can be applied on the acne and ulcer spotted skin. Haritaki has also proven to be useful in fighting against skin allergies. The haritaki paste is a potent remedy for such problems. Haritaki acts as a cleanser for the skin. It works by rejuvenating skin and clearing acne. It works on rashes, sunburns and eczema

Haritaki for hair

Haritaki helps prevent hair loss as well when used in the form of herbal oil. This oil shields hair from dandruff and lice infestations. Taking haritaki powder regularly should improve your hair overall as it is a rich source of antioxidants and also acts as a potential detoxifier. It also helps in stopping the hair from greying. Haritaki oil can be prepared by warming a cup of coconut oil in a container with three pods of haritaki till it turns to a brownish colour. Allow it to cool and massage your hair gently. 

(Read more: Home remedies for thick hair)

Haritaki for arthritis

Haritaki can also be used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. Studies have found that acetone extract of the fruit has a definitive effect on controlling arthritis by reducing the inflammatory effect. Aqueous extract of the dried fruit of Terminalia chebula showed anti-inflammatory by inhibiting inducible NO synthesis. Use of harikati can also produce a significant inhibition of joint swelling in the disease. 

Haritaki against pathogens

Haritaki has a strong antibacterial activity against intestinal bacteria, Clostridium perfringens, Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Staphylococcus epidermidsis, Staphylococcus aureus, Bacillus subtilis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa demonstrating that it is a broad spectrum antibacterial remedy. The two antibacterial compounds found in the ethyl extract of the fruit, gallic acid and ethyl ester are also effective against Helicobacter pylori.

Haritaki also shows antifungal activity against a number of dermatophyte and yeasts. The alcoholic ethyl acetate extract shows the activity against Aspergillus niger, Aspergillus flavus. The extract of haritaki seeds showed antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum which is effective against diseases such as malaria.

Haritaki boosts immunity

If haritaki powder fried in clarified butter (ghee) is consumed regularly, it acts as a booster for immunity and increases longevity. Haritaki helps in the increase in immunity and hence, protection from diseases as a cough and cold. For treating cough, haritaki powder should be consumed along with honey. This remedy is also used to cure a sore throat and gingivitis. The extract of haritaki has also been found to increase cell-mediated immune response thus, boosting immunity. 

Haritaki finds wide use for its numerous health benefits. However, unregulated consumption may cause certain side effects which have been described below. 

  • Haritaki has the ability to lower the high blood sugar levels. Though it is generally seen as beneficial to those who are at a risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, it may not be advisable to those patients who are on glucose lowering medication. Consulting the doctor before consuming haritaki is recommended if the individual is on the prescription drugs for high blood sugar levels.
  • The intake of Haritaki powder should be immediately stopped before two weeks of undergoing a major surgery due to its effect on blood sugar control during the operation.
  • Haritaki works most extensively on the gastrointestinal tract. Its cleansing action ensures nutrients from the stomach can go through the intestinal walls and reach the bloodstream. When this cleansing takes place, the stool can become softer and looser than usual. This can lead to dehydration if the proportions consumed are too high or if the body responds by flushing the system.
  • Consuming too much of Haritaki powder may cause temporary diarrhoea and other problems of digestion like bloating and excessive gas. These issues of the intestine should clear up within a few days. If not, then it is advised to stop taking the powder for a few days and consult with your doctor. In case of other digestive issues as well haritaki must be avoided because of its strong, astringent properties.
  • Haritaki is not advised for those undergoing exhaustion or illness. It should not be consumed after fasting or when underweight. Especially women who experience heavy menstruation or have indulged in alcohol are advised to stay away from Haritaki.
  • Pregnant women are not advised to use haritaki as it may reduce the production of breast milk for nurturing mothers.
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References

  1. Peterson CT et al. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug;23(8):607-614. PMID: 28696777
  2. Savitha et al. Pleiotrophic Evaluation of Haritaki. American Journal of Phytomedicine and Clinical Therapeutics
  3. Jirankalgikar YM, Ashok BK, Dwivedi RR. A comparative evaluation of intestinal transit time of two dosage forms of Haritaki. Ayu. 2012 Jul;33(3):447-9. PMID: 23723658
  4. Peterson CT, Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug;23(8):607-614. PMID: 28696777
  5. V. Maruthappan, K. Sakthi Shree. HYPOLIPIDEMIC ACTIVITY OF HARITAKI (TERMINALIA CHEBULA) IN ATHEROGENIC DIET INDUCED HYPERLIPIDEMIC RATS . J Adv Pharm Technol Res. 2010 Apr-Jun; 1(2): 229–235. PMID: 22247850
  6. Aruna S et al. Haritaki A Boon To Herbalism – A Review. Sch. Acad. J. Biosci., 2014; 2(2):132-136