Haritaki-Terminalia Chebula

Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) commonly known as the Chebulic Myrobalan is a perennial plant, found everywhere in India. The useful part is the fruit which is of medicinal value. Haritaki fruit is a part of Triphala, the three fruits. Haritaki is a panacea for all diseases and is the best Rasayana (Rejuvenative) especially for Vata people. According to the Bhavaprakasha, Haritaki was derived from a drop of nectar from Indra’s cup. Haritaki is a digestive and has anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, cardiotonic, aphrodisiac, laxative and restorative properties. It promotes intellect. It is additionally beneficial in flatulence, constipation, hemorrhoids, cough, cold and fever. Haritaki is also known by different names like Abhaya, Avyatha, Pathya, Kapastha, Pootana, Chetaki, Sreyasi, Shiva in Sanskrit.

Energetics of Haritaki

• Rasa (Taste) – It has all the five tastes except salt – Madhura (Sweet), Amla (Sour), Tikta (Bitter), Katu (Pungent) and Kashaya (Astringent). The peculiar property of Haritaki to possess five types of tastes is because of the special way in which Mahabhutas (five main elements of the universe – Earth, water, fire, air and ether) combine themselves to constitute this drug.

• Guna (Properties) – Guru (Heavy)

• Virya (Potency) – Ushna (Hot)

• Vipaka (Taste at the end of digestion) – Madhura (Sweet)

• Dosha karma (Effect on doshas) – Mitigates Tridosha

• Karma (Actions) – Rasayana, Promotes longevity, promotes stoutness, anti aging, enhances intellect, and makes sense organs strong and keen.

• Indications – It is used externally in edema, eye disorders and disorders of throat. It is used internally in pain, flatulence, abdominal tumor, duodenal disorders, hemorrhoids, jaundice, spleenomegaly, anemia, emaciation, cardiac disorders, hoarseness of voice, rhinitis, cough, dyspnoea, diabetes, skin disorders, leucorrhea, skin disorders, disorders of head, eye disorders, chronic fever.

Varities of Haritaki

Bhavaprakasha has mentioned 7 varieties of Haritaki depending upon the area where they grow, size of the fruit, and uses.

1. Jivanti – It is grown in Saurashthra in Gujarat, is golden – yellow in color. It is used for all chronic diseases and has many medicinal uses.

2. Putana – It is found in Southern Pakistan, is small in size with big and hard seeds and is used mainly for external application.

3. Vijaya – Vijaya, growing in the Vindhaya Mountains, looks like a squash and is said to be the best. It is used for all chronic diseases and has many medicinal uses.

4. Abhaya – Amrita and Abhaya varieties grow in Bhagalpur district in Eastern India in Bihar. Abhaya has 5 lobes and is used mainly for ophthalmic purpose externally.

5. Amrita – It has more of flesh and is used mainly for purgation purposes.

6. Rohini – It is found distributed in North India, is round in shape and is used for healing ulcers and wounds by external application.

7. Chetaki – It is found in Himalayas, has 3 lobes and is used in powder form for many diseases and is a laxative. It comes in two varieties – white and black.

Haritaki as a Rasayana (Rejuvenative)

Haritaki is a best Rasayana and many Rasayana preparations of Hartaki are expounded in the first chapter (Abhaya Amalaki Rasayana) in Chikitsa sthana (Section on Therapeutics) of Charaka Samhita. Powder of Haritaki is administered in the dose of 3-6 gm for Virechana (Purgation) and 1 gm for Rasayana. Haritaki is the best rejuvenatory herb for all the seasons. Haritaki is advised to be used throughout the year and is administered with different substances in different seasons to get best results. This is known as Ritu Haritaki.

• In Vasantha ritu (Spring) Haritaki is advised with Madhu (Honey).

• In Varsha (Rainy) Haritaki is advised with Saindhava (Rock salt).

• In Sharad (Autumn) Haritaki is advised with Sharkara (Sugar).

• In Hemanta (Early winter) Haritaki is advised with Sunti (Ginger).

• In Shishira (Late winter) Haritaki is advised with Pippali (Long pepper).

• In Grishma (Summer) Haritaki is advised with Guda (Jaggery).

Use of Haritaki in various disorders

Bhavaprakasha has also mentioned the mode of use of Haritaki for different disorders.

• For Vata disorders, Haritaki is used with ghee.

• For Pitta disorders, Haritaki is used with sugar.

• For Kapha disorders, Haritaki is used with rock salt.

Grouping of Haritaki

The herbs are grouped into different categories in the text Charaka Samhita depending on their mode of action and use. And Haritaki is mentioned in Arshogna (Anti haemorrhoidal), Kushtagna (Beneficial in skin disorder), Kasahara (Beneficial in cough), Jwarahara (Anti pyretic), Prajasthapana (Fertility promoter), Vayasthapana (Longevity promoter), and Virechanopaga (Purgative) Gana.

This article has been written by Vaidya Lakshmi L. (Consultant Physician & Head of Panchakarma Department of Chakrapani)