Terminalia chebula popularly called Haritaki in Hindi, Kadukkai in Tamil and Inknut in English has many health benefits and medicinal uses, it truly is a medical wonder! It is called the king of medicine as it has many wide medicinal uses. It has been extensively used in Homeopathy, Unani and Ayurveda.
It treats a wide variety of diseases from dark circles, pimples, teeth problems, grey hair, constipation, dark spots and for promoting hair growth and aiding weight loss. It is an ingredient that we first resort to for treating most of the small ailments at home.
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Common Medicinal Uses:
Actually the amount of diseases haritaki can cure is astonishing, it is used for treating arthritis, dental problems like caries and bleeding gums, skin problems like acne and eczema and for healing wounds! Kadukkai is also used for treating neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s, for treating constipation, for shrinking haemorrhoids when used externally and also for treating ulcers very effectively.
Kadukkai is also used for treating and preventing kidney stones, for improving digestion, for treating cough, sore throat, headache and for treating eye inflammations when used as an eye rinse. Finally it is commonly used for improving immunity, for treating fever along with reducing cholesterol and blood sugar levels! No wonder it is called the king of all herbs :).
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Common Names:
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Tree Description & Habitat:
Terminalia chebula tree grows to a height of about 50 to 80 feet with spreading branches and round crown. The bark of the tree is dark brown with long cracks on it, the tree starts flowering during May to June. The flowers are dull white to yellow in color and has a strong unpleasant odor.
Terminalia chebula is found in most of the south east Asian countries. It is found in almost all the parts of India especially in deciduous forests and in areas of light rainfall. Here in Tamil Nadu, Terminalia chebula tree is found in almost all the deciduous forests.
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Fruit:
Types Of Haritaki (Kadukkai):
Though only 2 or three varieties of haritaki that are commonly available, it is still best to know all the different varieties. Usually they differ in their shape, size and growth.
1. According To Size:
The largest sized fruits which is almost 2 inches long and heavy is called Survari Harade. These are yellowish brown. Next is Rangari harade which are about an inch long. They are less furrowed and wrinkled than Survari harade and are yellow in color.
Bala harade comes next, they are smaller than the above two varieties, highly wrinkled and are deep brown to black colored. Finally there is Java harade which is the smallest of them all and is also deep brown to black colored.
2. According To Shape:
Vijaya, if it has gourd shape, it is given the most importance as it used to treat many diseases. Rohini, when it is round in shape, it is mainly used for treating wounds.
Putana if it has a large seed and less mesocarp, it is mostly used for external application. Abhaya, if it has five ribs, it is used for treating eye diseases. Jivanti if it is golden colored and Chetaki if it has three ribs.
3. According To Growth:
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Scientific Classification:
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Chemical Constituents:
- Tannins: Haritaki fruit is very rich in tannins amounting to almost 32% to 34%, this amount can vary according to the region it is found and are of pyrogallal type. Almost 14 tannins have been found in the fruit and some of them are gallic acid, chebulagic acid, punicalagin, chebulanin, corilagin, neochebulinic acid, ellagic acid, chebulinic acid and casuarinin.
- Poly phenols like corilagin, galloyl glucose, punicalagin, terflavin A, maslinic acid are also found in haritaki.
- Fatty acids: Palmitic acid, linoleic acid, oleic acid are the main fatty acids found.
- Triterpenoid Glycosides: Chebulosides I and II, arjunin and arjun glucoside are some of the glycosides found in haritaki.
- Flavonoids: Rutin, quercetin, luteolin, isoquercetin are some of the flavonoids found.
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Traditional Uses:
- Traditionally haritaki has been used to treat eye diseases, constipation as it is an amazing laxative, almost all dental problems like bleeding gums, dental carries and mouth ulcers.
- We boil haritaki and use the liquid as a mouth rinse to treat various dental problems. Since haritaki paste has amazing anti inflammatory and analgesic properties, it has been traditionally used for treating wounds.
- Since it improves digestion, haritaki has been popularly used for treating indigestion, vomiting and lack of appetite. It is also used for treating all cold related problems including irregular fevers, cough, sore throat and asthma.
- It is also very popularly used by diabetic patients to reduce blood sugar levels and it also used for treating urinary problems.
Haritaki For Skin Care (Cosmetic Uses):
Haritaki is well known for it’s ability to treat a wide variety of skin diseases. Haritaki inhibits melanin production and has been proven to be very effective for removing pigmentation. Since it is rich in antioxidants, it prevents cellular ageing and keeps the skin blemish free.
It is also an amazing blood purifier and an amazing astringent. Kadukkai also is famously used for treating dark circles, open pores and pimples. When we suffer from skin problems like acne, it not only helps greatly reduce the inflammation but also helps treat it.
Haritaki In Ayurveda:
Haritaki has been regarded very highly from ancient times by traditional healers in India and it is widely used in ayurvedic medicine. It is also one of the three ingredients of the famous triphala which by itself signifies it’s importance in ayurvedic medicine.
Many ayurvedic medicines like dasamula haritaki lehyam (haritaki jam) and chitrak haritaki includes haritaki as one of the key ingredients and is used to treat a wide variety of diseases.
Haritaki (Kadukkai) Pharmacological Properties:
In addition to the below, haritaki has immunomodulatory, laxative, anti spasmodic, hypolipidemic, hypocholesterolemic, adaptogenic and antianaphylactic properties.
One of the important medicinal use of haritaki is in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease. This is due to the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of haritaki. The anti-inflammatory properties is attributed to the presence of chebulagic and gallic acid.
Antioxidant properties is due to the presence of high amounts of phenolic compounds, antioxidants helps reduce oxidative stress which is one of the major reason for Alzheimer’s disease.
2. Antidiabetic properties
Maltase and sucrase inhibitors reduce post prandial glucose levels by restraining the release of glucose. Haritaki has such properties and this is due to the presence of active compounds like chebulanin, chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid. Methanol extract of haritaki (80%) proved to have powerful maltase inhibitory activity.
3. Liver Protection
In a study, Diazinon, a synthetic insecticide which causes liver damage was given to rats. Serum GOT and serum GPT levels acts as indices for liver health, high levels of both these enzymes indicates liver dysfunction. When the rats were given kadukkai extract the levels of both these enzymes decreased.
This is due to the presence of tannins, flavonoids, sterols, resins, fructose, and amino acids present in kadukkai. Defective liver also leads to decrease in serum urea level and kadukkai also helps restore the metabolism of urea in the liver, this is due to the high amount of antioxidants present in it.
4. Joint Health
The water extract of haritaki improves joint mobility, in a study done on 105 overweight people who experienced no joint pain at rest, 84 days of haritaki water decoction improved overall joint and knee health. Since it has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, it has anti arthritic properties too so people who are suffering from arthretic pain will greatly benefit consuming haritaki.
5. Anticancer properties
Haritaki has wonderful anticancer properties too. In a study, harithaki extract has been proven to be effective against human breast cancer cells, human osteosarcoma cells, human prostate cancer cells and non tumorigenic immortalized human prostate cells.
Haritaki extract decreased the amount of cancer cells, inhibited cancer cell proliferation and also caused cell death. Gallic acid found in haritaki also inhibits the growth of esophageal carcinoma cells and you can read the study that proves it here.
6. Hypolipidemic properties
Traditionally haritaki is given to reduce high cholesterol levels. Regular consumption of haritaki extract has been proven to reduce total cholesterol, triglyceride and it also helped increase the level of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL). This is due to the high amounts of saponins, phytosterols, chebulinic acid and corilagin found in haritaki.
At home, we regularly use haritaki mouth rinse. Haritaki water extract has been proven to be very effective against salaivary streptococcus mutans. Tannins found in haritaki is responsible for the antimicrobial properties against S. mutans.
In a study done on 60 children between ages of 8 and 12 years with high caries risk, using haritaki mouthrinse greatly reduced after 10 minutes of using haritaki mouth rinse (10 % concentration). The best part was this effect was retained for 3 hours!
8. Wound Healing Properties
We also use haritaki water extract as wound wash and it has been proven to greatly help in faster wound healing. Tannin found in haritaki promotes cutaneous wound healing due to its angigenic and antibacterial properties. If you are suffering from any kind of wound, try to use haritaki extract without fail.
9. Larvicidal and Ovicidal Properties
Mosquitoes are one of the major sources of illness and death world over. Than using chemical based mosquito repellents that cause side effects, it is important that we find natural source of mosquito repellents and haritaki is one among them.
Benzene, hexane, chloroform, ethyl acetate and methanol extract of haritaki all have larvicidal properties and they are effective against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus variety mosquitoes.
10. Analgesic Properties
Another very important and significant effect of haritaki is its analgesic, anti inflammatory and antioxidant properties. In a study done on 12 healthy volunteers, consuming haritaki greatly increased pain threshold and pain tolerance when compared to placebo so people suffering painful conditions like arthritis, body aches and inflammation will greatly benefit consuming this amazing herb.
Where To Buy Kadukkai (Haritaki)?
1. Haritaki Fruits:
Though 7 varieties are mentioned, we only get two types, large variety (Vijaya) which is used in ayurvedic medicine, it is the best to use for all home remedies, detoxification and rejuvenation. The smaller variety (Chetaki) which are unripe fruits that are small and seed less and are mainly used for treating constipation.
While buying haritaki make sure to buy matured ones and sun dry them till crisp and then store in an airtight box. Haritaki stores well and can be stored in an airtight box for almost 6 months to 1 year.
2. Haritaki Churna | Powder:
Haritaki powder also called haritaki churna in the north and kadukkai podi in the south is the ground up fruit after the seeds are removed.
Try to buy organic haritaki churna for best results. You can also make your own haritaki powder at home by removing
the seeds and sun drying the outer shells of the fruit till crisp and then powdering it in a dry mixer.
3. Haritaki Capsules:
How To Use Haritaki?
- You can take haritaki internally by mixing haritaki powder in water. You can also make an infusion of the pounded fruit (after removing the seeds) with water, strain and use. Externally you can apply the paste of the fruit by rubbing it with water in a stone.
- Traditionally, it is advised to take haritaki with jaggery during summer, with rock salt during rainy season, with honey during spring, with sugar during autumn, with ginger during early winter and with long pepper during winter. I always have haritaki churna at home and I use it extensively in home remedies.
- Last week, my brother in law was suffering loss of sensation in the tongue. He was complaining that he couldn’t feel any taste at all in his mouth and this problem was going on for almost a month. I made a mouth rinse with haritaki and asked him to rinse his mouth with it twice daily for 10 days. Within a few days, he said he was feeling better and by the end of the 10 days, he had completely gotten back his sense of taste.
Haritaki Side Effects:
- Haritaki can be taken for long duration’s without any side effects as it has low toxicity but if you are on any medications please consult an ayurvedic doctor for the correct dosage.
- Pregnant women should not take haritaki at all. Lactating mothers should never take haritaki as a single herb in large dosage as it might reduce breast milk and even then I would suggest consulting with a doctor before consuming.
- Diabetic patients should be careful before taking haritaki regularly as it reduces blood sugar levels so the blood sugar levels should be monitored closely.
- It is best to avoid haritaki in children below 5 years old but if you plan to give them, do it only under medical supervision.
- Haritaki is considered a male contraceptive and it has been proven to be true so men should be aware of it before taking it on a regular basis.
10 Top Medicinal Uses & Health Benefits Of Kadukkai (Haritaki):
1. Haritaki For Weight Loss:
Haritaki is well known for it’s ability to remove toxins from the body. It keeps the digestive system in peak order. It also prevents bloating sensation, acidity and helps in proper assimilation of food.
Haritaki is a natural blood purifier and it helps detoxify the body naturally. Consuming haritaki will regulate the hunger and combined together with a sensible diet and exercise will aid in weight loss naturally. To use haritaki for weight loss, you can take 1/4 tsp of haritaki powder mixed with hot water everyday.
2. Haritaki For Grey Hair & Hair Growth
Haritaki oil when used on the hair prevents lice infection, premature greying and dandruff very effectively. You can use it as a daily application hair oil. To make haritaki hair oil, heat a cup of coconut oil in a pan and add the 3 haritaki pods after pounding them (remove the seeds after pounding).
Once they turn light brown in color, switch off the flame, let cool and store it in a glass bottle. Use this oil regularly to prevent lice infection, greying and dandruff. This oil effectively treats hair loss too. Haritaki powder can also be used in hair packs, it can be mixed along with curry leaf powder, amla powder and yogurt to form a paste and then applied on the hair.
3. Haritaki For Cough In Infants & Adults:
Haritaki is amazing for treating cough in both adults and children (above 5 years). Mix haritaki powder with raw honey and give it to kids for 2 to 3 days. Some children might vomit when they consume haritaki for the first time as it is bitter, that is normal and one need not worry about it. They will get used to it very soon.
A big pinch (around 2 gms) will be good for children around 5 to 7 years. Give around 1/4 tsp of haritaki powder for children between 7 to 10 years. This remedy will treat cough very effectively. Try not to use haritaki powder continuously for children without medical supervision.
4. Haritaki For Constipation:
Kadukkai powder is a natural laxative that is available to us. Many suffer from constipation and take medicines for it continuously. Having a traditional diet that is rich in fiber and using natural laxatives like kadukkai podi | powder will keep our bowels in good health.
Regularly consuming medicine for constipation will make a person dependent on them and of course the side effects of bloating and flatulence when the laxative medicines are taken regularly too. Stock up on this natural laxative and use it whenever you suffer from constipation.
For the remedy, take 1/4 tsp of haritaki powder in a bowl, boil water and add to the haritaki powder. Drink once it comes to lukewarm temperature before going to bed. You will find yourself free from constipation the next day morning.
5. Haritaki For Dark Circles:
Haritaki is very effective in treating skin allergies especially ear allergy caused by wearing metal earrings. Gold and silver earrings doesn’t produce any allergies. But metal earrings will not agree with everyone as some of these metal earrings contain nickel.
Some times if we wear these earrings for longer duration, the earlobes turn itchy, red and swollen. For this problem haritaki is the best answer. Just take a haritaki and rub it on the sandalwood stone with little boiled water.
You have to rub it hard as the skin of the haritaki is hard. The paste is light green in color. Take this paste and apply on the affected area. Usually it gives good relief from pain and reduces inflammation very quickly.
6. Haritaki For Acne:
Since haritaki has got both antibacterial and anti inflammatory properties, it is very effective for treating acne. A simple paste made with haritaki powder and boiled water when applied on acne heals it very quickly. It also prevents scars from forming along with reducing the inflammation greatly. Another wonderful use of haritaki for skin is UV protection.
Haritaki extract when applied on the skin topically prevents UV damage very effectively and this use has been proven through clinical research too. Haritaki face pack made by mixing haritaki powder with milk also reduces pigmentation well.
7. Haritaki For Acidity:
Haritaki is well known to cure all stomach related problems from acidity and indigestion to constipation very effectively. Haritaki increases the mucus production in the stomach forming a protective barrier thus preventing acidity and ulcer.
Since haritaki has both anti ulcer and gastroprotective properties, people who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome, acidity and ulcers will benefit taking haritaki.
You will find good improvement within few days of taking haritaki. For the remedy, take around 1/4 tsp of haritaki powder and mix it in hot water and drink till the problem disappears.
8. Haritaki For Diabetes:
Haritaki improves insulin sensitivity and helps to regulate the blood sugar levels very effectively so haritaki is very very useful for diabetic patients. The interesting part is many of the diabetic medicines had some side effects when taken regularly whereas haritaki did not have any side effects at all.
But diabetic patients should monitor their blood sugar levels closely when taking haritaki and diabetic medications together as it might lower blood sugar levels drastically.
9. Haritaki For Teeth & Mouth Ulcers:
Haritaki has anti cariogenic properties and can be used for treating many dental problems including mouth ulcers and bleeding gums. The best way to use haritaki for treating mouth ulcers is by making a mouth rinse with it. For making the mouth rinse, pound kadukkai using a mortar and pestle. Don’t pound it too finely, just break the outer covering.
Then boil the broken haritaki with a cup of water. The color of the water will change to dull yellow color. Cool this infusion and rinse your mouth with the infusion several times a day. This mouth ulcer home remedy usually gives good relief very quickly. This mouth rinse also treats bleeding gums and prevents tooth decay and mouth odor.
10. Haritaki For Eyes:
Haritaki has been used for treating eye diseases for a very long time. If you are suffering from eye inflammations or diseases that affects the eye like pink eye then you will greatly benefits using haritaki as a eyewash.
To use haritaki as an eye wash, pound haritaki to small pieces and boil till the color of the water changes. Switch off and strain through a muslin cloth else if small particles remain, it will irritate the eyes when we use it as an eye wash. Use this an eye wash morning and evening till the infection goes away.