What is Haritaki and What Are Its Health Benefits?
Haritaki, whose scientific name is Chebulic myrobalan, is a fruit obtained from the seeds of Terminalia chebula trees. It’s also known by names such as “Indian nut” or “Indian plum” and is quite popular in Ayurvedic medicine.
According to this traditional system, it’s a food of ” tridoshic nature” – that is, it can balance the three doshas. In this way, it rebalances the physical, mental, and spiritual health, especially in the case of diseases. What are its benefits? What does science say? Here are all of the details.
The characteristics of haritaki
In Ayurvedic medicine, haritaki is known as “the king of medicines”. The fruit is shaped like a peach and measures between 2 and 4.5 centimeters long and between 1.2 and 2.5 centimeters wide. It also has 5 longitudinal ridges.
Depending on the variety, it can have a sweet, sour, or bitter taste. In addition, its color is usually blackish-green when ripe. It usually grows in tropical and subtropical regions of India, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
A powder is made from its peel and is often distributed for medicinal purposes. However, it’s important to note that several haritaki products are distinguished. These are the following:
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The nutritional properties of haritaki
Much of the benefits of haritaki are explained in its concentration of essential nutrients. To be more precise, the fruit is a source of vitamin C, manganese, selenium, potassium, iron, and copper.
In turn, as stated in an article published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, it provides other phytoconstituents such as the following:
- Fatty acids (linoleic acid, oleic acid, and palmitic acid)
- Amino acids
Due to this composition, it’s attributed to antibacterial, antitumor, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, antiviral, and antispasmodic properties, among others. What is it used for?
The uses and benefits of haritaki
The medicinal applications of haritaki are described in Ayurvedic and Tibetan books. In these traditional systems, it’s valued for its potential to prevent and treat disease. However, evidence for its benefits remains limited. Thus, it’s important to use it with caution.
In Ayurvedic medicine, haritaki has been used as an adjuvant for the detoxification of the digestive system. Its intake promotes bowel function and helps in the prevention of disorders such as constipation.
In addition, among other things, it contributes to the relief of the following symptoms:
- Peptic ulcers
- Stomach acidity
- Abdominal spasms and colic
In addition, it’s believed that this fruit stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, decreases inflammation, and promotes the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestine.
Haritaki extract is used as a supplement to strengthen the immune system. Its antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties contribute to the prevention of infections. In addition, its vitamin C supply stimulates leukocyte functions, which is also key to optimizing defenses.
For all of the above, the remedy is associated with the prevention of the following diseases:
- Skin infections
- Respiratory tract infections
- Intestinal infections
- Autoimmune diseases (arthritis, lupus, celiac disease)
The phytoconstituents in haritaki, especially tannins, fatty acids, and amino acids, have a positive impact on metabolic health. An animal study reported in Phytotherapy Research associates the consumption of this fruit with the prevention of high blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, and other factors linked to metabolic syndrome.
Inflammation and oxidative stress
The abundant supply of antioxidants in haritaki is beneficial in regulating the body’s inflammatory processes and reducing the negative effects of oxidative stress. In particular, its intake is associated with an increase in glutathione and superoxide dismutase, which are key to fighting free radicals.
Because of these effects, haritaki supplementation is believed to have neuroprotective and antitumor effects. Its moderate consumption contributes to reducing the risk of chronic diseases that impair quality of life.
Although evidence is limited, this fruit is associated with good heart health. Popular literature suggests that it contributes to improving blood flow, which would favor blood pressure control. In addition, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, it would stimulate the elimination of bad cholesterol and contribute to the prevention of atherosclerosis.
Other benefits of haritaki
- Moderate consumption of haritaki serves as an adjunct to weight loss. Specifically, it decreases food cravings and promotes optimal metabolic functioning.
- The topical use of haritaki extracts is useful for the prevention of skin infections. It’s even believed to help fight acne and promote healing.
- Its application on the scalp reduces the presence of dandruff, itching, and excessive hair loss. In addition, it leaves a silky and healthy appearance.
Haritaki dosages and presentations
Haritaki is often available in powder, capsules, and tea. Dosages may vary according to the type and manufacturer.
In general, they range from 1 to 5 grams per day, twice a day, diluted in warm water or milk with honey. In any case, it’s essential to always consult the label and respect the consumption recommendations.
For use as a topical remedy, the powder can be combined with rose water, coconut oil, or honey. It’s rubbed on the skin, as long as there are no open wounds. Also, when diluted in water, it can be applied to the scalp.
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The risks and possible side effects
Despite its benefits, haritaki may result in some side effects, especially when taken without the supervision of an Ayurvedic or general practitioner. These reactions include the following:
- Jaw stiffness
- Nutritional deficiencies
However, due to its hypoglycemic qualities, its simultaneous consumption with diabetes medications should be avoided. In fact, the ideal is to be oriented in case of taking any type of drug. In these cases, it may reduce or enhance its effects, putting health at risk.
For safety, it’s best to avoid its administration in children, pregnant or breastfeeding women, and patients with chronic diseases. In the latter case, a doctor should be consulted first.
What to remember about haritaki
In Ayurvedic medicine, haritaki is a well-known remedy for boosting metabolism, improving defenses, and protecting the cardiovascular system. Even so, its use should be prudent, and always under the supervision of an Ayurvedic or general practitioner.
It isn’t considered a first-choice treatment in case of diseases and isn’t exempt from causing side effects. Therefore, it’s advisable to take only the doses suggested by the manufacturer.
Although it can be applied as a topical remedy, it’s a good idea to test it before use. Just put a small amount on one of the skin areas and wait 12 to 24 hours. If there are no undesired reactions, it can be used without problem.It might interest you...
All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.
- Bag A, Bhattacharyya SK, Chattopadhyay RR. The development of Terminalia chebula Retz. (Combretaceae) in clinical research. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2013;3(3):244-252. doi:10.1016/S2221-1691(13)60059-3
- Ratha KK, Joshi GC. Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan) and its varieties. Ayu. 2013;34(3):331-334. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.123139
- Jirankalgikar YM, Ashok BK, Dwivedi RR. A comparative evaluation of intestinal transit time of two dosage forms of Haritaki [Terminalia chebula Retz]. Ayu. 2012;33(3):447-449. doi:10.4103/0974-8520.108866
- Kesharwani A, Polachira SK, Nair R, Agarwal A, Mishra NN, Gupta SK. Anti-HSV-2 activity of Terminalia chebula Retz extract and its constituents, chebulagic and chebulinic acids. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2017;17(1):110. Published 2017 Feb 14. doi:10.1186/s12906-017-1620-8
- Carr AC, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211. Published 2017 Nov 3. doi:10.3390/nu9111211
- Nalamolu KR, Nammi S. Antidiabetic and renoprotective effects of the chloroform extract of Terminalia chebula Retz. seeds in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6:17. Published 2006 May 7. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-6-17
- Gupta, Prakash Chandra. “BIOLOGICAL AND PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF TERMINALIA CHEBULA RETZ. (HARITAKI)- AN OVERVIEW.” (2012).
- Afshari AR, Sadeghnia HR, Mollazadeh H. A Review on Potential Mechanisms of Terminalia chebula in Alzheimer’s Disease. Adv Pharmacol Sci. 2016;2016:8964849. doi:10.1155/2016/8964849
- Varma SR, Sivaprakasam TO, Mishra A, et al. Protective Effects of Triphala on Dermal Fibroblasts and Human Keratinocytes. PLoS One. 2016;11(1):e0145921. Published 2016 Jan 5. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0145921