With the transition of seasons from monsoons to fall, infectious diseases are on the rise. What with the fear of COVID-19 still looming high, people are getting into a spiral with the mere sight of someone coughing, sneezing or having a slight body temperature. Since the SARS-COV-2 virus is extremely contagious, people get more panicked and don’t realize that the sudden soreness in the throat, sneezes or fever can also happen due to seasonal changes, or the common flu virus. Well, most of these respiratory infections occur due to imbalances of the Kapha doshas within the body and believe it or not, a good bolster to your immune system can easily help with the common cold symptoms and respiratory infections. One such incredible ayurvedic herb that has incredible expectorant and bronchodilatory properties is Baheda.
What Is Baheda?
Famed as one of the trio of rejuvenating dry fruits that constitute the miraculous Triphala formulation, Baheda, or Bibhitaki is a classical ayurvedic ingredient that is extremely beneficial in relieving respiratory anomalies while balancing all the three doshas (Vata, Pitta, and Kapha) and nourishing the dhatus within the body.
The word Bibhitaki or Vibheetaki consists of two words, where ‘Vibheeta’ means ‘lack of fear’ and ‘ki’ denotes the ‘fruit’. So, the name of this herbal ingredient symbolizes ‘the fruit which takes away fear of diseases’ since it is deemed as the ultimate remedy for most health anomalies. It forms an important part of the magical Triphala churna which is composed of a blend of dried fruits of Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) and Bibhitaki (Terminalia Bellirica) in appropriate proportion bestowing one with amazing therapeutic properties.
Coming from a medicinal deciduous tree of the Combretacea family, Baheda goes by the botanical name Terminalia bellerica and is indigenous to tropical Asia including India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. In India, it is mostly found in the plain dry forests of Assam, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Gujarat, Odisha, and Andhra Pradesh. The plant is usually found flourishing in scattered forests, upper layer trees of stream valleys, lower seasonal rain forests, sunny mountain slopes, monsoon forests, and mixed deciduous forests, and thrives best on fertile, loamy soils with good drainage.
Baheda is a tree of deciduous origin that grows to a height of up to 12-50 metres and a diameter of 3 metres with a roundish-oval crown. It usually has a buttressed trunk at the base with branches of up to 20 metres in length. The bark is usually 10-20 mm thick, bluish or ashey-grey in colour and covered with numerous fine longitudinal cracks and yellowish inner marks on the bark. Leaves of this tree are large, globous, elliptic and are alternately arranged on the twigs and clustered towards the end of the branches. Flowers are simple and solitary and are usually white or yellow in colour with a strong honey-like odour. One unique thing about the baheda tree is that upper part flowers are male whereas the lower part flowers are either bisexual or female. Fruits are usually in the form of drupes, grey-coloured and ovoid-shaped and are covered with minute pale pubescence enclosing one stony hard seed within. The fruits are quite similar to that of haritaki but without longitudinal ridges.
Common Names Of Baheda
Baheda is known by different names in different parts of the world. Few of the common names include Beleric Myrobalan, Barro, Bedda Nut Tree, Thani, Thandri, Baheda, Bastard Myrobalan, Bolsuiri, Belliric Myrabolan, Beach Almond, Agong, Belleric and Behere.
In the Indian sub-continent, it is known as Baheda, Baheraa, Bahirda, Bahera, Bahuvirya, Bhaira, Bhairaa, Bhutvaas, Bohera, Kalk, Karshphal, and Vibhitaka, in Hindi, Akkam, Kattuilupa, Thaani, Thani, Vibidagam, Taanni, Taanrikkaay, Thaanri, Tanri, Thandi, and Thandri in Tamil, Bhutavasamu, Tandrachettu, Tani, Thandra, Karshaphalamu, Tadi, and Vibhitakamu in Telugu, Tamarut, Thaanni, Taannikka, Tannimaram, Adamarutha, Taanni, Thani, Thannymathan, and Tusham In Malayalam, Santi, Thani, Thare, Taarekaayi, Taarekaayi mara, Tara mara, Tare mara, Thani, Behara, Shanti mara, Tharo, Vibhita, Vibhitaka, and Mairobalanas bellirika in Kannada, Bahera, Baheda, and Bhayraa in Bengali Bahera, Beda in Gujarati and Beda, Berda, Bibhitaka, Kalidruma, Behada, Beheda, and Vehala in Marathi.
Ayurveda knows Baheda by the following Sanskrit terminologies which include Aksa, Akshah, Kalidruma, Kasaghnah, Karshah, Bahuvirya, Bibhitakah, Bibhitaki, Karshaphala, Vibhiitaka, Vibhitakah, and Vibhitaki.
Ayurvedic Indications Of Bahera
Time and again, Baheda has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures and journals for various indications which include Jvara (useful in fever), Kasahara (Relieves cough), Amahara (treats indigestion), Dahahara (relieves burning sensation), Shwasha (relieves breathing difficulties), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Anulomana (improves breathing), Vayasthapana (prevents ageing), onitasthapana (prevents bleeding), Sangrahini (treats diarrhoea), Kustha (treats skin disorders), Kamala (prevents jaundice), Raktadoshahara (blood purifying), Vran Ropana (heals wounds), Mehahara (treats urinary tract disorders), Prameha (manages diabetes), Vamana (prevents nausea and vomiting), Trutahara (relieves excessive thirst), Balya (improves muscle strength), Hikkanigrahana (controls hiccups), Kantya (relieves sore throat), Triptighno (relieves pseudo-satiation), and Vamanopaga (treats emesis), Varnya (improves complexion), Krimihara (relieves intestinal worms), Hridaya (treats heart problems), and Kanthya (improves voice).
Phytochemical Constituents Of Baheda
Be it in the dry or ripe form, Baheda contains essential vitamins like Vitamin C, proteins, and minerals like potassium, selenium, manganese, iron, and copper. It contains chemical constituents like tannic acid, ellagic acid, chebulagic acid, gallic acid, oxalic acid, phyllemblin, β-sitosterol, mannitol, galactose, glucose, fructose, rhamnose etc. in it. Imbued with these bioactive components, Baheda portrays strong anti-microbial, antioxidant, anti-diarrheal, anti-asthmatic, anti-spasmodic, anti-cancer, anti-hypertensive, hepatoprotective, anti-pyretic, anti-tussive and expectorant properties, which helps it to provide an absolute remedy for several health anomalies including respiratory disorders, mouth ulcers, headache, cough, skin rashes, infertility, constipation, indigestion, insomnia, obesity and hair problems.
Formulation Of Baheda
Baheda Churna/ Baheda Powder
It is a traditional herbal blend formulated from the dried deseeded fruits of Terminalia belerica. It is extremely useful for treating respiratory infections, recurrent fever, constipation, ulcer, hemorrhoids, etc.
Remove the seeds from the fruits and dry them under direct sunlight for 1-2 weeks till it becomes hard and there is no moisture within.
Use a grinder to grind the dried fruits into powder.
Air-dry the powder for 2-3 days until there are no moisture particles remaining.
Pass the churna or powder through sieve no. 100 to remove any impurities or solid particles.
Store them in air-tight containers for future use.
Adults: ½ – 1 gm infused in warm water with a tsp of honey or as directed by the healthcare provider or ayurvedic practitioner.
Therapeutic Benefits Of Baheda
Thanks to the powerful digestive qualities of the dried fruit of Baheda, it actively facilitates in breaking down of food particles in the stomach and intestine, trigger the secretion of digestive juices and thereby increase the absorption of essential nutrients through the intestines. Not only does it help to eliminate abdominal gas while reducing abdominal distension, bloating and gaseous cramps but also plays a pivotal role in treating a host of gastrointestinal anomalies.
Be it the whole fruit or dried powder form, Ayurveda, a centuries old practice strongly recommends the use of Baheda in the treatment of constipation. It boosts the secretion of bile by the liver, which in turn, acts on the peristalsis movement of the intestines and liver, thereby allowing smooth passage of faecal matter from the large intestine. The laxative property of Baheda plays a pivotal role in minimalizing mucous and excess fat content in the stools and preventing them from sticking to the intestinal walls and thereby allowing easy movement.
Thanks to the quarry of antioxidants and bioactive components, Baheda offers several folk remedies for improving the immune system, fighting microbes and shielding the body against various infections. It also portrays the presence of strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and antifungal properties, which is extremely effective in preventing infections and uplifting overall health and wellness.
Promotes Cardiac Functioning
The powerful cardio-tonic properties of Baheda plays a quintessential role in treating a host of heart anomalies. The powder obtained from dried fruits have strong expectorant, aphrodisiac, and purgative properties. Measured intake of this powder holds high significance in strengthening the heart muscles, lowering cholesterol levels in the blood and preventing lipid build-up, which in turn reduces the risk of atherosclerosis, heart blocks, heart attacks, blood clots, etc.
Treats Wounds And Ulcers
The anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer properties of Baheda hold high significance in treating different types of ulcers like ulcerative colitis, peptic ulcer, canker sores or mouth ulcers, etc. The bioactive compounds in the fruit powder actively enhances tissue regeneration, facilitates wound healing whereas the oil extracted from the seeds is also used for dressing wounds.
Remedies Pain And Inflammation
Thanks to the abundance of anti-inflammatory and anti-arthritic properties, Baheda confers relief from pain and inflammation caused due to different forms of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis, also known as Amavata in Ayurveda usually stems owing to the vitiation of Vata doshas and aggregation of Ama in the joints. The powder obtained from Baheda fruits not only provides relief from Amavata but also subdues burning sensation occurring in different parts of the body.
In the recent times, a sedentary lifestyle including unhealthy diet, lack of play time or hereditary factors are some of the reasons that leads to diabetes. This incredible fruit showcases strong anti-diabetic property which plays an essential role in pacifying the blood sugar levels in the body. The β-pancreatic cells, which helps in the production of insulin becomes extremely active on the consumption of the fruit powder or juice. It also helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose which in turn leads to low blood glucose levels in the body and maintains a balanced diabetic reading.
Improves Cognitive Functioning
The strong adaptogenic and brain-boosting properties of Baheda offers a traditional remedy to increase the functioning of the brain. The presence of bioactive components prevents the breakdown of the brain chemicals needed for memory hence enhancing concentration, memory capacity, focus, calmness, alertness of an individual. Being a brain tonic and stimulator, Baheda formulations have also reported improved memory, reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities.
Cures Respiratory Troubles
Imbued with potent expectorant, anti-inflammatory, anti-biotic, and anti-asthmatic properties, Baheda plays a pivotal role in treating several respiratory troubles like common cold, sore throat, cough and flu symptoms. Accumulation of phlegm particles in the nasal passage and chest gets removed easily on consuming Baheda powder. It is also beneficial in treating bronchitis and asthmatic conditions.
Additional Benefits Of Baheda
Baheda For Fever
Imbued with potent anti-parasitic and anti-pyretic effects, Baheda is used effectively in treating different types of fever. Traditionally, been used against several infectious conditions, the seed oil and powder reduce the body temperature and inhibits the growth of microbes and hence prevents aggravation of the infection within the body.
Baheda For Anorexia Nervosa
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder in which an individual suffers from self-starvation. It is also attached to mental health as the individual suffers from low weight issues, fear of gaining weight, lower self-esteem and an intense desire to reduce weight. Additionally, the person also has a loss of hunger or desire to eat any food. Baheda being a natural digestive and appetizer aids in the digestion of food, improves appetite and ensures that the person eats healthily.
Baheda For Oral Health
The abundance of germ-killing properties, in the powder or oil helps in eliminating bad breath and bacteria from the oral cavities and thus prevents swelling, bleeding and other oral problems. The powder or oil can often be used to brush the teeth and hence reduce gum pain and bad breath.
Baheda For Skin Quality
Blessed with antioxidant properties, Baheda is a boon to achieve spotless radiant skin. It helps in shielding the skin from oxidative radical damage due to the harmful UVA and UVB rays, and hence reduces the risk of the various signs of aging like wrinkles, blemishes, spots, fine lines, dark circles, etc. The potent anti-inflammatory properties also reduce allergic conditions like acne, pimples, zits and prevents various other skin infections. Additionally, the exfoliative properties of the powder also help in scourging away dead skin cells, cleaning facial pores and removing facial hair.
Baheda For Hair Problems:
Owing to the intrinsic anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties, Baheda treats various scalp and hair infections like folliculitis, itching and dandruff. It also nourishes the hair follicles with essential nutrients, enhances blood circulation and fortifies the hair strands from the roots to the tips. By normalizing the secretion of the stress hormone, it also prevents hair fall and breakage due to stress and anxiety.
Effect On Doshas:
Baheda is sanctified with Kashaya Rasa (i.e. astringent taste) and Laghu (i.e. light) and Rukshna Guna (i.e. dry quality). It intrinsically portrays Ushna Virya (i.e. cold potency) and Madhura Vipaka (i.e. sweet metabolic taste). Being light and dry, it pacifies the Pitta (fire and air) doshas and Kapha (earth and water) doshas whereas an excess of it can aggravate the Vata (air) doshas. Owing to the intrinsic properties and doshas, Baheda portrays a positive effect on the various Dhatus (i.e. body tissues) which are Rasa (i.e. Plasma), Rakta (i.e. Blood), Mamsa (i.e. Muscles), Asthi (i.e. Bones) and Shukra (i.e. Reproductive Fluids).
The ayurvedic properties help in portraying the following main prabhabs on the body which are, Bhedanam (mild purgative action), Kashanashanam (relieves cough and sore throat), Kruminashanam (treats worm infestation), Netrahitam (enhances vision), Chardi (vomiting), and Trutahara (treats excessive thirst).
The effectual therapeutic dosage of Baheda may vary from person to person depending upon the age, body strength, effects on appetite, severity, and condition of the patient. It is strictly recommended to consult an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner as he or she would evaluate the patient’s indications and prescribe an effective dose for a specific period.
Adults: 3 - 6 gram along with water or honey, twice a day after meals or as directed by the ayurvedic practitioner.
Baheda Side Effects:
Although it is considered safe when consumed in measured quantities as per the instructions of an ayurvedic doctor or practitioner. The powder or churna of Baheda if taken in excess can lead to dry skin and constipation. It is also strictly objected not to use this powder during pregnancy or lactation period without consulting a doctor.
Since ancient times, Baheda has been mentioned in several ayurvedic scriptures as an absolute remedy for numerous health anomalies. Thanks to the essential bio-active ingredients and incredible therapeutic properties, it is widely used for managing cough and cold, remedying sore throat, treating digestive anomalies, enhancing cardiac functioning, preventing skin infections, promoting digestion, diminishing urinary problems, boosting immunity and many more.