Prized as the “King Of Medicines”, Haritaki is a miraculous ayurvedic fruit that is extensively used for a wide range of traditional remedies. Cultivated from the seeds of Terminalia chebula tree, it is popularly known as Indian walnut for its innumerable benefits or Indian hog plum in English. Also Read: Triphala: An Ayurvedic Wonder For Detoxification And Rejuvenation
This dried fruit often termed as Chebulic myrobalan is one of the three musketeers that constitute the potent rejuvenative Triphala formulation. The holistic science of Ayurveda strongly advocates the uses of haritaki due to its potent laxative, astringent, purgative, anti-bilious and anti-oxidant properties for treating numerous health anomalies.
Ancient folklore has it, that a drop of amrit which is eternal nectar dropped from heaven upon the earth and gave rise to this divine tree. Hence, is considered as a rejuvenative herb and a one-shot remedy for a variety of ailments.
How To Identify The Haritaki Tree?
Commonly known as Harad in Hindi, Kadukkai in Tamil, Karakkaya in Telugu and Haritaki in Bengali, this tree belongs to the Combretaceae family. Haritaki trees are deciduous in nature and mostly grow in tropical and subtropical regions of India, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The trees are quite tall, growing to a height of 30 m and have alternately arranged oval leaves growing on the branches. They have dull whitish-yellow flowers that have a strong pungent smell. The fruits are yellow to orangish-brown in colour and are ovoid drupe-shaped with five distinct longitudinal ridges along its surface.
Haritaki, being a longtime staple in ayurvedic practice is widely mentioned in a number of ayurvedic scriptures and textbooks as Harade, Hardi, Harara, Shilikha, Ordo, Kadukka, Prapathya, Jaya, Avyatha, Hemvati, Vaystha, Shiva, Shreyashi, Pranda, Nandini and Pathya. Traditional Sanskrit scriptures of Bhavprakash Nighantu written by Acharya Bhav Mishra categorizes seven types of haritaki depending upon their medicinal properties and habitat:
Haritaki And It’s Varieties:
It is used for curing most ailments and is found in the Vindhya mountain ranges.
The three-layered skin of the fruit is used for purgation and these are mostly found in the Himachal regions.
The fruits of this type of haritaki are round in shape and are mostly used for wound healing and as a remedy to fight the effects consuming harmful substances. These are widely grown in the Sindh regions.
The fruits of this variety are small with big seeds and are mostly used for external applications and are usually found in the Himalayan regions.
The tree bears yellow coloured flowers, and the dried fruits are used for curing all type of disorders and are mostly found in the Saurashtra region of Gujarat.
The five-layered fruit skin of this variety is used for treating vision problems and are cultivated in the Champa regions of Chhattisgarh.
This Haritaki variety has a thick fruit pulp which has Panchakarma properties and is found in the Champa Bhagalpur regions.
The myriad of beneficial properties of Haritaki include Jwaraghna (treats fever), Kashaghna (treats cough and cold symptoms), Virechnopaga (reduces purgation), Vayasthapana (reduces the ageing process), Grahi (treats diarrhoea), Chakshushya (improves vision), Shulahara (reduces pain), Deepana (enhances stomach fire), Pachana (helps in digestion), Rochana (stimulates appetite), Arshohara (treats piles), Kusthahara (treats skin disease) and Shothahara (reduces inflammation). Thanks to the umpteen powerful properties of haritaki, it holds high significance for treating diarrhoea, dysentery, vision problems, obesity, gingivitis, gout, asthma etc.
Effect On Doshas
The divine fruit characterizes five distinct tastes which are Katu (pungent), Tikta (bitter), Kashaya (astringent), Madhura and Amla Rasa (sour taste). It shows Laghu (light) and Rukshna (dry) gunas, Ushna Virya (hot potency) and Madhura Vipaka (sweet metabolic property). It is Tridoshic in nature i.e. balances all three doshas which are Vata (air), Pitta (fire and air) and Kapha (earth and water) doshas and hence balances and uplifts overall health. Also Read: Introduction To Ayurveda: Learn About Vata, Pitta And Kapha Doshas
The miraculous fruit as a whole characterizes several bioactive compounds like chebulin, chebulagic, and corilagin and antioxidants like pyrogallol, ferulic, vanillic, phloroglucinol, and caeffic acid. Haritaki also has twelve fatty acids including linoleic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid. In addition to these, it also has amino acids, glucose, quinines and tannins. Imbued with these components, haritaki has the potential to boost immunity and provide effective treatment for various Vata imbalances.
Health Benefits Of Haritaki
The excellent hypoglycaemic property of haritaki plays a significant role in alleviating the blood sugar levels of the body. The production of insulin from the β-pancreatic cells becomes active in taking this wonder fruit. It helps to reduce the breakdown of starch into glucose. Hence, regular usage of haritaki powder effectively brings down the blood glucose levels and relieves from various diabetic symptoms like frequent urination, excessive thirst, weight loss etc. Also Read: Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment
Improves Cognitive Functioning
Haritaki is one such traditional remedy that has potent brain-boosting properties. The powerful antioxidants and flavonoids present in this myrobalan improve the memory capacity, focus, concentration, calmness, alertness of an individual. Being a brain tonic and stimulator, people taking haritaki in various forms experience delay in the progression of neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinsons, Dementia. It serves as memory boosting food, aids in reasoning, problem-solving, and other cognitive abilities. The neuroprotective elements in the plant prevent loss of memory and relieve tension from the brain.
Boosts Sexual Health And Stamina
Among the innumerable health benefits of haritaki, one such significance is that it is extremely beneficial in promoting sexual health of both males and females. Thanks to it’s potent Rasayana properties which is the Sanskrit word for ‘alchemy’ meaning ‘something that remains virile throughout life’. Being a natural aphrodisiac, it helps in reducing mental stress and anxiety and stimulates the hormones for increasing libido. It improves male and female fertility, treats several reproductive issues and increases virility and stamina in men.
Aids In Digestion
Haritaki is a traditional remedy for improving gut health and treating a wide range of gastrointestinal disorders like esophagitis, heartburn, diarrhoea, flatulence, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, indigestion, constipation, flatulence and stomach pain. The carminative nature of the fruit helps in breaking down the food particles in the stomach and intestine, enhances the secretion of the digestive juices and thereby increases the absorption of essential nutrients through the intestines. It helps to eliminate abdominal gas and in turn reduces abdominal distension, bloating and gaseous cramps. Also Read: 5 Herbs For A Healthy Digestive System
Promotes Weight Loss
Haritaki plays a key role in burning excess fat. It effectively detoxifies the body by removing AMA toxins and reduces sudden hunger pangs and a craving for unhealthy dietary choices. It reduces the accumulation of LDL cholesterol (i.e. Low-Density Lipoproteins or bad cholesterol) in the body, thereby improving metabolism and helping the body to shed weight faster.
Add a spoonful of haritaki powder to a glass of warm water to shed away the excess fat deposit and get a well-toned slim body.
Heals Wounds And Infections
Haritaki portrays strong anti-bacterial, anti-viral and antifungal properties that are not only used for removing bacteria and germs from the body but also treats wounds and improves healing. The bioactive compounds present in this miraculous herb has been used since ancient times to treat various skin issues like sores, ulcers, skin fungus, etc.
What Is Haritaki Good For?
Haritaki For Eyes
The potent Chakushya properties of Haritaki hold high significance for a large number of eye problems including dry eyes, watery eyes, inflamed eyes, stye infection and conjunctivitis. Make a solution of haritaki by boiling dried haritaki fruit into a tea and later cool and use it as an eyewash or cleanser to get rid of various eye infections and vision disorders.
Haritaki For Skin Health
The abundance of powerful antioxidants and nutrients like Vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, iron and copper make Haritaki a key player in treating various skin and hair issues. It effectively scavenges free radicals from the body and diminishes oxidative damage. Being a natural toner, it flushes out the toxins from the internal layers of the skin, promotes overall skin health and treats various skin infections like acne, pimples, rashes, boils etc. Haritaki can be used in several ways for uplifting skin health.
DIY Haritaki Face Masks
Since time immemorial haritaki powder has been used for boosting skin health. They are used in DIY masks that offer an easy natural remedy for treating several skin issues.
Pore Reducing Pack
Make a paste of a spoonful of haritaki powder, ½ spoon of besan, ½ spoon of multani mitti, and 2 tablespoons of rose water and put it on your face. Allow it to settle for 20 minutes and wash off with cool water. Use this face pack for twice a week for desired results.
The astringic properties of haritaki effectively reduce pores. It inhibits melanin production, reduces wrinkles and pigmentation and thereby bestows a blemish-free skin. Also Read:3 DIY Methods To Get Rid Of Skin Pigmentation Naturally
Pack a paste of a spoonful of haritaki powder, ½ spoon of freshly squeezed aloe vera gel, 2 drops of almond oil and slowly massage it around your eyes in a circular motion. Allow it to dry for 15 minutes and wash off with cool water. Apply some moisturiser to keep the skin underneath the eyes supple. Use this pack thrice a week to get totally remove dark circles.
Laden with antioxidants, haritaki reduces oxidative damage and pigmentation and is extremely beneficial for treating dark circles.
Haritaki For Hair
Haritaki is extremely valuable for its role in improving hair health. It is useful for treating scalp infections like dandruff, itching and hair fall. As a potent constituent in triphala, it cleans the hair follicles, gets rid of dirt and impurities and promotes hair growth. It also strengthens them from the roots, prevents breakage and loss of hair and bestows silky soft smooth hair.
Mix haritaki powder along with amla and bahera with henna powder. Add water or tea liquor to make a paste. Apply this mixture onto your hair and keep it on for 1 hour. Wash off with cool water and condition your hair. Also Read: 3 DIY henna hair masks for healthy scalp and gorgeous tresses
Vyaghri Haritaki Avaleha
The avaleha is a semi-solid jam like preparation of haritaki obtained from Bhaisajya Ratnavali which aims towards balancing Vata and Pitta disorders. It plays a key role in treating various respiratory ailments including cough, cold, asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis.
The active constituents of this avaleha include kantakari, haritaki, guda, maricha, sunthi, twak, patra, ela, pippali, nagkeshar, madhu and water for the decoction.
Seedless haritaki powder is taken and purified by steaming them in a Dola Yantra (i.e. purification device). To this purified powder, kantakari decoction and jaggery is added and heated to reach a semisolid consistency. It is allowed to cool and, in the end, the other herbal ingredients including twak, patra, ela powder and honey is added and mixed thoroughly. The jam or jelly-like formulation is then kept in airtight glass vessels and stored for future use are added in powdered form.
General recommendation is 5-10 gms once or twice a day before or after food. Talk to your ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
General recommendation is 1-2 gms once or twice a day infused in a glass of warm water or milk along with a teaspoon of honey or as suggested by your doctor.
This formulation is a mixture of several essential herbs that aim towards pacifying the Vata and Kapha abnormalities. Apart from being used for clearing nasal passage, phlegm deposits and various respiratory ailments like cough, cold, asthma, it also soothes stomach fire and promotes digestion.
The goodness of the various herbal ingredients along with haritaki like chitraka, amla, guduchi, trikatu, ela, patra, yavakshara, dashamoola, guda, madhu and pani make this avaleha a powerful remedy offering umpteen health benefits.
Make a decoction of 4 to 5 litres using water and a few herbs like chitraka, amla, guduchi and dashamoola. Add an adequate quantity of jaggery and haritaki to the decoction and put it over a flame. Allow to boil until a semi-solid string like consistency is reached. Now, add the remaining herbs ela, patra, trikatu and yavakshara to the mixture to the blend it thoroughly. The avaleha is ready for use.
General recommendation is 5-10 gms once or twice a day after meals infused with milk. Talk to your ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
General recommendation is 1-2 gms once or twice a day after meals along with milk. Talk to your ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
This formulation is available in tablet form and plays a key role in pacifying the Vata Doshas. It is also used for the treatment of neuromuscular conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, backache, and constipation. It removes toxins from the body and improves overall health.
The active ingredients of the guggulu preparation include haritaki, sonth, shuddha guggulu, vidhara, and eranda tail or castor oil.
Take the purified guggulu in an iron mortar. Add castor to it and grind to make a fine powder. Add the remaining herbal ingredients in dried powdered forms. Grind them together and pass the mixture through a sieve to remove hard particles. Roll them onto your palm to make haritaki tablets.
General recommendation is 375 mg – 1.5 g twice a day after food infused with warm milk or water. Talk to your ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
General recommendation is 125 – 375 mg twice a day after food infused with warm milk or water. Talk to your ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
When And How To Take Haritaki Powder In Different Seasons?
Haritaki is available in various forms. Be it avaleha, churna or vati, one can take it by infusing it in warm water or milk or in the form of a decoction or tea. Try to take this powder in the specified way given below to reap its benefit.
In the spring season, consume it with honey.
In summers, it can be taken along with jaggery.
In the monsoons, consume haritaki with rock salt.
In autumn, it can be ingested with desi kand or mishri.
In early winters, try to consume it with ginger, and in late winters take it alongside long pepper (gaja pippali)
Side Effects Of Haritaki
Although, haritaki has a plethora of benefits, over consumption or consuming without consultation with an ayurvedic doctor or healer might cause diarrhoea, stomatitis, dehydration, acute fever, malnutrition, stiffness of jaw, fatigue and various pitta disorders. Since it reduces blood sugar, patients already taking sugar reducing medicines should consult a doctor before taking haritaki. Pregnant women and lactating mothers are also forbidden to use any kind of haritaki formulation without prior doctor’s consultation.
Haritaki is a magical remedy that holds high significance in treating countless health problems including indigestion, gastritis, lung disease, obesity, impotence, cough, cold, asthma, vision defects, urinary tract infections and hair, and skin problems. Available in various forms, the dried powder or fruit can be ingested in different seasons by using different additives. Get proper consultation from a doctor to avoid adverse effects and enjoy the benefits.