Here’s why the Ayurvedic herb Haritaki is so good for digestive health, disease prevention, detoxification, dropping unwanted body fat, better skin and hair and much more.
As well as its extensive health benefits, also ahead is how to and when to use Haritaki powder, the best type to take and some important side effects and precautions to be aware of.
What is Haritaki?
In Ayurveda, Haritaki is the name of the dried fruit of the Terminalia Chebula tree. It is also known as Harad, Kadukkai, Karakkaya, Kadukka Podi and Chebulic Myrobalan in various languages across the region.
It grows across Asia, particularly in forests of Northern India, and has a long history of medicinal use as a health panacea, adaptogenic tonic and natural cure for a wide variety of disorders and diseases.
Dried Terminalia Chebula fruit powder is also one of the three ingredients in Triphala, probably the most famous of all the Ayurvedic formulas for better health. However, it is often prescribed as a stand-alone treatment for specific disorders and to bring an unhealthy body back into balance.
In Western countries like the USA, fine Haritaki powder, like this special organic preparation I use, is primarily used and it has some remarkable properties for improving your health and well-being. Let’s have a look at seven of the best of them.
7 Proven Haritaki Benefits for Better Health
1. Improved Digestion and Better Gastrointestinal Health
Regularly taking the herb Haritaki can enhance the function of your digestive tract, support a healthy intestinal environment and increase the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat.
At the same time, Terminalia Chebula powder is a mild laxative, improving elimination, tonifying the colon, clearing away compacted waste and helping to prevent constipation.
This study showed it has a ‘significant intestinal motility-enhancing effect’ and can be a very useful aid in keeping bowel movements regular.
While there may be an initial increase in flatulence and other gastrointestinal issues when you first start taking powdered Haritaki, most people quickly notice more regular bowel movements and less bloating and gas when using this widely regarded Ayurvedic treatment.
2. Decreases Stomach Acidity and Guards against Ulcers
In a related benefit, Haritaki churna can reduce excessive stomach acidity and even help prevent painful peptic and gastric ulcers by elevating protective mucus production in the stomach.
The Chebulic Myrobalan fruit is rich in antioxidant polyphenols like gallic acid and ellagic acid that have been shown in studies to combat the helicobacter pylori bacteria and reduce your risk of developing stomach ulcers.
3. Natural Weight Loss and Detoxification
By improving digestive health, increasing nutrient absorption, cleaning the colon, preventing constipation and speeding up elimination time, Haritaki helps alleviate the toxic burden on your liver – a common cause of difficulty losing weight.
Improved digestion and nutritional uptake will also often have a positive effect on reducing hunger and cravings for unhealthy foods, important factors that drive weight gain and lead to a more sedentary lifestyle.
Triphala, with its Amalaki and Bibhitaki, combined with Haritaki can be even more effective at the herbal method for losing weight as explained here.
An in yet another health benefit, likely related to improved gastrointestinal health and better absorption of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, Terminalia Chebula fruit is considered a premier detoxifier and blood builder in Ayurveda.
It is said to help elevate oxygen levels in the blood and is often recommended for low energy and lethargy. Whilst this is hard to confirm with research, many people who use Haritaki capsules like these regularly report an energizing effect when they take it.
4. Antioxidant and Antibacterial Protection
Powdered Haritaki is a rich source of potent antioxidants like ellagic acid, gallic acid, chebulic acid, flavonol glycosides, selenium and vitamin C that protect your body from cancer and other serious diseases.
This research found an extract of Terminalia Chebula improved concentrations of glutathione, superoxide dismutase and other antioxidants in the liver and kidneys. The authors concluded Chebulic Myrobalan helps fight oxidative stress and may protect against age-related diseases.
Dried Haritaki fruit also has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties for preventing infection from bacteria in the food you eat and from airborne viruses.
As an antifungal and overall digestive health tonic it may also help treat Candida and other fungal infections throughout the body.
5. Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome
High blood glucose levels and a decrease in insulin sensitivity due to poor diet are the primary cause of type II diabetes and its precursor metabolic syndrome. Compounds in Chebulic Myrobalan have been found to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
This study showed an extract of Haritaki fruit exerted a dose-dependent yet significant glucose lowering effect on the blood.
Given this, diabetic patients on blood sugar lowering medication should discuss taking Terminalia powder with their doctor before using it regularly.
6. Mouth Ulcers and Lung Disorders
Haritaki fruit or powder is often used for mouth ulcers, oral sores and gum disease. Traditionally in India, Haritaki mouthwash is made by crushing several dried fruit and boiling them in water.
Once cooled, it is swirled around the mouth several times a day to quickly alleviate ulcers. It is also believed to help prevent dental decay if used regularly. The powdered herb mixed with boiling water and cooled should be effective in the same way.
Haritaki churna is also recommended for bad coughs, bronchitis and other lung complaints. For this purpose around half a teaspoon of the powder is mixed with a small amount of honey with a spoon and slowly sucked upon.
It can be particularly good to make up and use this natural treatment right before bed if excessive coughing is preventing you from getting to sleep.
7. Better Skin and Hair
Haritaki fruit powder is often recommended for both skin problems, like acne and skin rashes, as well as hair loss and dandruff.
For acne and skin irritations a paste is made from the powdered herb in very hot water and applied directly to the affected area once it cools. Topical Haritaki treatments can speed up skin healing and help prevent further acne outbreaks.
To apply to the hair, Terminalia Chebula is usually prepared in a hair oil. This recipe for Amla hair oil could also be used with the same amount of powdered Haritaki instead and applied as directed to combat hair loss and prevent dandruff.
Just taking Chebulic Myrobalan powder regularly should improve both your hair and skin tone overall as it is such a rich source of antioxidants and a potent detoxifier as well.
Benefits in Summary
- Enhances digestion and increases the absorption of nutrients.
- Reduce excessive acidity and can help prevent stomach ulcers.
- Considered a premier detoxifier and blood builder in Ayurveda.
- A rich source of antioxidants that protect your body from serious diseases.
- Found to lower blood sugar levels and increase insulin sensitivity.
- Often used to treat mouth ulcers and gum disease.
- Recommended for acne, hair loss and dandruff.
Haritaki in Ayurveda
Indian Ayurvedic medicine calls Haritaki the ‘Mother of herbs’ and the ‘King of medicines’ and its list of health benefits are well documented and expansive.
It is considered a destroyer of diseases and an eliminator of toxins and wastes from throughout the body, improving digestion and promoting healthy weight loss.
A powerful rejuvenator, it provides beneficial effects to the body’s organs, particularly the colon, liver, spleen and lungs.
Terminalia Chebula is also considered an adaptogenic tonic that supports the channels within your body most in need of its healing actions.
It is also believed to increase energy and stamina and improve intelligence and awareness by clearing away mental blockages in much the same way it does physical ones.
In the dosha system of Ayurveda, Haritaki is balancing for all doshas, but especially for Vata imbalances. Though it may increase Pitta fire when taken in excess.
While modern science and medicine is only just discovering all the benefits of Terminalia Chebula fruit, historical health traditions like Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine have been recording its potency and effectiveness for thousands of years.
Side Effects of Terminalia Chebula Powder
Despite all of its health benefits, Haritaki does have some side effects to be aware of. Here are the main precautions to be aware of when using powdered Terminalia as a natural treatment.
1. Avoid during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
The primary precaution for women using this natural remedy is to avoid it when pregnant or breastfeeding.
The herb is specifically contraindicated in Ayurveda during pregnancy and it may also reduce breast milk production for new mothers.
Overall, it’s best to avoid using any parts of the Terminalia Chebula tree when nursing a child, whilst pregnant and even for a woman trying to conceive a baby.
2. Blood Sugar Effects
While this herbal treatments ability to lower high blood sugar levels is generally seen as beneficial for those at risk of diabetes and metabolic syndrome, it may not be appropriate for diabetic patients on glucose lowering medication.
Talk to your doctor first before taking Terminalia Chebula powder regularly if you’re using prescription drugs for high blood sugar levels.
Additionally, it should be stopped for two weeks before major surgery for its effect on blood sugar control during an operation.
3. Diarrhea and Dehydration
Taking too much powdered Chebulic Myrobalan fruit may cause temporary diarrhea and other digestive problems like bloating and excessive gas. These intestinal issues should clear up within a day or two.
If they don’t, then stop using it for a few days and then try again at least half the dosage or lower to build up your tolerance to the herb.
Additionally, is not recommended to start taking it when you are dehydrated or already suffering from diarrhea or other serious digestive issues due to its strong astringent properties.
An exception to this would be when constipated for which it is a well-known natural cure. See the dosage information ahead for how to use this herbal remedy if you are suffering from constipation.
4. Other Side Effects and Precautions with Haritaki Powder
Ayurvedic medicine specifically warns that Haritaki is not recommended for those suffering from exhaustion; after fasting; when underweight or recovering from illness; for women who have just experienced heavy menstruation; and for those who have indulged too heavily in alcohol or sexual activity.
Dosage and How to Use the Powder and Capsules
In India it is often recommended to put whole dried Chebulic Myrobalan fruit in a large bottle of water overnight, usually between three and seven, and drink this the following day.
For people living in the USA and other Western countries, the powdered herb is much more available and easier to use. A high quality Haritaki powder like this would provide much more bioavailable antioxidants and other beneficial health nutrients as well.
The starting dose of Haritaki powder would be a quarter to half a teaspoon mixed into a cup of very hot but not boiling water (turn off the kettle or pan just before it boils).
Allow the liquid to cool and take this Haritaki tea around one and a half to two hours after you finish your evening meal and before bed.
It is best to take Ayurvedic treatments like Haritaki or Triphala without sweetener. Practitioners say tasting the combination of astringent, sour and sweet flavors, as well as mildly bitter and pungent, is beneficial in and of itself.
If you must add some sweetener, then try a drop of stevia or little raw honey. Definitely don’t use unhealthy sugar as this works against the very health benefits Haritaki is providing.
Terminalia Chebula Capsules
If you think the potent taste of this herb would be a problem for you to take regularly, it will be better to use organic Haritaki capsules like these.
To make a similar dosage with capsules, use between two and four 500 mg capsules, taken with a big glass of water around two hours after your evening meal.
Dosage for Constipation
To treat constipation, either a double dose of the regular amount or higher dosage of Terminalia powder is recommended.
For a double dose for ongoing elimination problems, take half a teaspoon of the powdered herb mixed in very hot water one and a half hours after lunch and again one and a half hours after dinner.
For a higher dosage to alleviate occasional but heavy constipation, take a full teaspoon around one and a half hours after either lunch or dinner, depending on when constipation symptoms are worse. This amount should not be regularly exceeded without consulting a qualified Ayurvedic practitioner.
Additionally, Haritaki churna is best used for constipation as an occasional natural remedy, rather than an ongoing and long-term laxative.
As healthy as Terminalia Chebula fruit is, improving your overall diet is a far better way to treat digestive problems and elimination difficulties than relying on herbal laxatives
Haritaki for Better Health
I hope this detailed look at the benefits of Haritaki has provided more than enough reasons to try it for yourself, particularly if you’d like to improve your digestive health, detoxify your body, lose some weight or even see what it can do for your hair, skin and energy levels.
Powdered organic Terminalia Chebula like this one I have is recommended for the best value and ease of use. However, if the strong taste of this herbal remedy is likely to be an issue then try these highly rated Haritaki capsules instead.
Have you tried Haritaki powder before or even the dried Terminalia Chebula fruit? I’d be interested to read about any beneficial effects you experienced with the potent Ayurvedic treatment.