Haritaki - Mother of All Drugs
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 but it literally means ‘green’ like the fruit. It is also called as ‘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.Haritaki is useful in vitiation of all the three humors. It is better esp. in Vata disorders.
The following are the specific benefits of haritaki-
Deepaniya- Increases appetite
Rasayana Rejuvenative; especially to vata and the large intestine (purishavaha srotas)
Yogavahi -Catalyst enhancing the action of other herbs
Grahi- Absorbs fluids from the intestines (water decoction)
Lekhaniya- Scrapes accumulations from the tissues and channels
Chakshushya- Improves the eyesight
Anulomana- Corrects the flow of vata downwards
Stanyashodhana- Purifies breast milk
Vibandha hara- Alleviates constipation
Kasahara- Anti-tussive(heals cough)
Ayurvardhaka- Increases longevity
Arshoghna- Anti-hemorrhoidal (Piles)
Topical Use Of Haritaki:
Its paste with water is anti-inflammatory, analgesic and is having purifying and healing capacity for wounds. Its decoction as a lotion is used for surgical dressing for early wound healing.
The paste gives relief to the eyelids, in case of conjunctivitis.
Equal parts of three Haritaki and catechu(Khadira) are made in a paste with clarified butter or some bland oil work as an ointment in chronic ulcerations, ulcerated wounds and other skin diseases with discharge.
Haritaki is used for astringent purpose in hemorrhoids as well. Its decoction is used for gargling in oral ulcers, sore throat. Its powder is a good astringent dentrifice in loose gums, bleeding and ulceration in gums.
Haritaki & Abdominal Disorders:
It is good to increase the appetite, as digestive aid, Liver stimulant, as stomachic, as gastrointestinal prokinetic agent, and mild laxative.
Haritaki has proven gastro-kinetic effect i.e. it helps in moving the contents of stomach better. So it can be used after surgeries and as adjuvant with other drugs that interfere with gastric motility as antihistaminic, atropine like drugs.
Base on its comprehensive properties, it promotes appetite and helps in digestion.
It stimulates the liver and protects it further by expelling the waste excretory products from the intestines.
The powder of Haritaki has been used in chronic diarrhea and sprue with good results. It should be used as hot infusion in these disorders. It is indicated in Protracted diarrhea with hematochezia and prolapse of rectum.
For persons with excessive gas in intestine, flatulence, it is a good herb that can be taken daily. it will relieve these conditions smoothly.
One compound Chebulagic acid from Haritaki has shown antispasmodic action like that of Papaverine.
Being a mild laxative, it is a mild herbal colon cleanse. With its other properties, it provides some help in conditions with Liver and Spleen enlargement and in Ascites. It is not a strong purgative like other herbs as Senna. It does the cleansing action very smoothly. Further it can be taken for a long time without any ill effects.
In Ayurveda haritaki is the best for 'Srotoshodhana' or purifying the channels of body.
Central Nervous System:
It is a good nervine. It is used in nervous weakness, nervous irritability. It promotes the receiving power of the five senses.
Heart & Blood Vessels:
It is used as adjuvant in hemorrhages due to its astringent nature. It helps in edema and various inflammations.
Lungs & Airways:
It is good for Chronic cough, coryza, Sore throat and asthma. It is used with other herbs in many holistic herbal formulations in Ayurveda.
Reproductive Or Sexual Health:
Being anti-inflammatory, and astringent, it is useful in urethral discharges like spermatorrhea, vaginal discharges like leucorrhea. It can be given as adjuvant in atonic conditions of Uterus.
Kidney & Urinary Bladder:
It is helpful in Renal calculi, dysurea, and retention of urine.
It is useful in skin disorders with discharges like allergies, urticaria and other erythematous disorders.
Commonly Used names of Haritaki:
General Uses Of Terminalia Chebula:
It is given as adjuvant herb in 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. Thus it is considered as an alterative and adaptogen.
Haritaki reduces the ill effects of fat rich, creamy and oily food. Haritaki is the definite aid for persons who habitually overeat. Further it can supplement the Cholesterol normalizing drugs.
The herb is used in preparing ‘Triphala’ that is used for hair wash, brush teeth in pyorrhea and treat bleeding gums.
Regular consumption of haritaki powder, fried in ghee, promotes longevity and boosts energy.
Powdered haritaki, mixed with jaggery, works well in gout.
Its powder, when mixed with honey and ghee, is an effective remedy for anemia.
Haritaki is combined with sunthi powder and given with hot water to lighten asthma and hiccups.
Its decoction, when taken along with honey, is of great help in hepatitis and obesity.
The herb improves memory and is salutary in dysuria and urinary stones.
Bhava Mishra, a great Ayurveda scholar of the Medival times has prescribed Ritu-Haritaki Prayoga.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.
Haritaki with Other Herbs:
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 most of the compounds it is used as minor adjunct. In many others it is used as the foundation base of the entire formula - like in most of the electuaries or jams. It is the one of the prominent herb in formulations for asthma, cough, tonics, skin diseases, abdominal disorders.
Ayurvedic Holistic Approach With Haritaki:
The author Bhava Prakasha in his Materia Medica relates haritaki to be used with sugar in Pitta disorders, with salt in Vata disorders, with dried ginger in Kapha disorders.
Modern Clinical Research & Terminalia Chebula:
Haritaki can serve to act as an effective alternative to modern prokinetic drugs like metaclopramide.
anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties
Some preliminary evidence of its capability to be useful in HSV Herpes simplex virus.
Some anti-tumor activity and effect in inhibiting the HIV virus.
Anthraquinone and Sennoside like purgative activity. Ability to evacuate the bowel.
Wide antibacterial and antifungal activity, esp. against E. coli.
Haritaki should be sparingly used by lean individuals and pregnant women.
It should be avoided in severe debility, mental depression, while fasting and vitiated pitta conditions.
A saying in Sanskrit goes this way-
‘A mother may cause harm to her child sometime but never does haritaki when consumed by anybody’