Haritaki or Terminalia chebula is a wonder drug, finding its place in a wide range of therapeutic usage in the Ayurveda system of medicine. It is a very large tree growing throughout the deciduous forests of India and Sri Lanka, growing up to 2000m. Haritaki is described as the ‘remover of diseases’. Hara is also the name of Lord Shiva, thus reflecting the sacred nature and exalted position of the plant. It literally means ‘green’. It is also ‘abhaya’ or ‘fearless’ of any disease. It is said to have originated when a drop of immortal nectar (amrita) fell from heaven to earth. It is considered to be the best herb for the digestive system and lungs.
The fruits of Haritaki are one of the main ingredients in many Ayurvedic formulations. Eg: The popular ‘Triphala’. Haritaki fruits are highly nutritious for human health as they contain various vitamins, minerals and proteins. They are an excellent source of vitamin C. These fruits are also rich in several minerals including selenium, potassium, manganese, iron and copper.
- The fruits are also proved to have strong antibacterial and cardiotonic properties. They prevent the growth of many harmful intestinal bacteria.
- These fruits are beneficial for the five senses as they improve their receiving powers.
- A half tsp. of fruit pulp powder when ingested every night followed by a little warm water is used for healing ulcers (of both mouth and stomach) and wounds.
- It is used as an eyewash, for relief from various eye-infections.
- Gargling with a decoction made from the fruits is very good for fighting oral ulcers, stomatitis and sore throat.
- Haritaki fruit, mixed with dry ginger powder and hot water, is used for treating asthma and hiccups.
- This fruit is used for fighting many diseases including leprosy, chronic as well as intermittent fever, narcosis, diarrhea and anorexia.
- It is a good nervine. It is used in nervous weakness, nervous irritability. Its fruit pulp increases the oxygen levels of the blood, thereby promoting longevity of tissues.
- These fruits are used for fighting many digestive disorders such as flatulence, distention and parasitic infections.
- A decoction of this fruit is used to fight against hepatitis and obesity.
- A paste of Haritaki and water is found to be anti-inflammatory and analgesic. Its decoction as a lotion is a surgical dressing for healing wounds.
- It reduces lipid deposits in the blood and liver. When consumed with honey, it helps reduce cholesterol.
- Its powder is a good astringent for loose gums, bleeding and ulceration in gums.
- Powdered Haritaki is used along with ghee and honey for curing anemia.
- It is good for chronic cough, sore throat and asthma.
- It is useful in skin disorders with discharges, like allergies.
- It is used to treat chronic fever.
- On long term use, it is helpful in gaining weight in the emaciated persons and in losing weight in obese persons.
- When taken with meals it sharpens the intellect, increases strength, stimulates the senses, expels the urine, stool and other waste materials from the body. It saves the person from the vitiating effects of bodily humors.
- Haritaki reduces the ill effects of fat rich, creamy and oily food. Haritaki is the definite aid for persons who habitually overeat.
Haritaki is reputed for its alterative, adaptogenic and tonic effect when used throughout the year with different substances in different six seasons of the year. If we review all the herbal formulations in Ayurveda’s all classical texts, we will find haritaki to be one of the most frequently used ayurvedic herbs. In Ayurveda, haritaki is the best for purifying the channels of the body.