Terminalia Chebula

Botanical Name: Terminalia Chebula

Sanskrit Name: Harithaki

Family Name: Combretaceae


Vernacular names :

  1. Hindi – harad
  2. Telugu –karakkaya
  3. Gujarati –hardo
  4. Tamil –kadukkai
  5. Oriya – haridra


Amrita,   Abhaya, Kayastha,   Vayastha,   Pathya, Vijaya, diva, Jaya, Haimavati

Ganas in classical texts:

Charaka: Jvaraghna, Arshoghna, Kasaghna, Kustbaghna,Prajasthapana

Susruta: Amalakyadi, Parusakadi, Triphala



Among the earliest references, Panini described it for the management of dysurea/anurea and constipation (Mutra-PurisaNirodha) — (Pa.Ga. 4/4/53).

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is one of the important as well as commonest herbs used by folk, house hold and traditional medicine. Its fruit rind is used in medicine and is one of the ingredients in Triphala (three myrobalans).

It is mainly indicated for constipation, respiratory problems, certain skin disorders, eye diseases etc. Charaka high-lighted its Rasayana properties in Chikitsasthana. He specifically stated Haritaki as best among the herbs to be used regularly

Sivadatta described Haritaki plant by making simile with ‘Vasa’ leaves

Controversial Studies

Though there is no controversy in the identity of its botanical source (T.chebula), in South India it is being adulterated withT. pallida while in Bengal and Assam another species T. citrinaRoxb. is being used as a variety of Haritaki.


Bhavamishra describes seven varieties of Haritaki viz.,

(1) Vijaya

(2) Rohini

(3) Putana

(4) Amrta

(5) Abhaya

(6) Jivanti and

(7) Chetaki.

Each variety is used for a specific purpose.

(1) Vijaya-Sarvaroga (all diseases)

(2) Rohini- Vrana (wound healing)

(3) Putana-Pralepa (external application)

(4) Amrita-Sodhana (purification procedures)

(5) Abhaya- Netrarogas (eye diseases)

(6) Tivant: Sarvaroga (all diseases)

The above seven varieties may be the chamo-types or ecotypes belonging to the same species/different areas.

Haritaki will also exhibit various pharmacological effects by changing the vehicle (Anupana).

Kaiyaveda quoted three varieties viz., Niraja, Vanaja and Parvatiya.

Botanical details

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is a large tree, with rust coloured or silvery hairs over the younger branchlets etc.

Leaves- mostly subopposite, distant,ovate or oblong-ovate, 8-20 cm. long, de-ciduous in the cold season.

Flowers- dull-white or yellowish, with a strong offensive smell, in spikes from the upper axils and in small terminal panicles.

Fruits-obovoid or ellipsoidal from a broad base, glabrous, more or less 5-ribbed when dry. (Flowers in April-May and fruits in November-January)


Abundant in Northern India, also occurs in Bihar, West Bengal, Assam, Central India and South India.

Chemical constituents

Fruits- anthraquinone glycoside,chebulinic acid, tannic acid, terchebin, vit. C.

Fruit kernel- arachidic, behenic, lindeic, oleic, palmitic&stearic acids.


Rasa –pancharasa (except lavana), kasaya mainly

Guna –laghu, ruksha

Virya – usna

Vipaka –madhura

Karma –Tridosahara, Anulamana, Rasayana, Prajasthapana, Chaksusya, rirdya, Lekhana


Sotha, Prameha, Kustha, Vrana, Chardi, Vatarakta, MutraKricchra, Netraroga, Kirmi, Hirdroga, Asmari, Klaibya, KasaSasa etc.

Part used

Fruit rind


Powder 3-6 g.

*Note – It is specifically contra-indicated for pregnants, weak persons, dehydrated patients, lock-jaw, fresh fevers.

Therapeutic uses

(1) Ajirna- Haritaki is taken with Nimba (V.S.)

(2) Prameha- Haritaki powder should be given with honey (A.S .Ci.1 4).

(3) Amlapitta- Haritaki and Draksa are taken together (V.M.)

(4) Upadamsa- Application of paste of Haritaki and Rasanjana (R.M.)


  • Abhayarista
  • KamsaHaritaki
  • Pathyadikvatha
  • Triphalachurna
  • Triphalaghanta
  • ChitrakaHaritaka,
  • Vaishvanarachurna
  • Harikakileha
  • AgastyaHaritaki

Ritu Haritaki

For the purpose of Rasayana (rejuvenation, anti aging),

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is taken along with different ingredients in different seasons. This regimen is called as RituHaritaki. Ritu means seasons.

  • VarshaRitu – In rainy season, Harade is given along with Saindhava – Rock Salt.
  • SharatRitu – In Autumn, it is given along with Sharkara – sugar
  • HemantaRitu – In early winter, it is given along with shunti (ginger)
  • ShishiraRitu – In winter, it is given along with Pippali – Long pepper – Piper longum
  • VasantaRitu – In Spring, it is given along with Madhu (honey)
  • GreeshmaRitu – in summer, it is given along with Guda (jaggery)

Research works

(1) Study of in vitro antibacterial activity of extracts from the: plants of T. chebula. E. albaand 0. sanctum was carried out by the disk diffusion technique. All showed such activity against human pathogenic Gram positive and Gram negative bacteria. The activity against Salmonella organisms was shown only by T. chebula; against Shigella organisms by T. chebula and E. alba, but not by 0. sanctum. The widest spectrum of antibacterial activity was shown by T. chebula. It was also most potent (Sj&Kulkarni, 1989).

(2) Various extracts prepared from the powdered fruits habeen wide antibacterial and antifungal spectrum (Inamdar et al, 1959).

(3) It also inhibits growth of E. coli, the most common organism responsible for urinary tract infection (Singh R.H. et al; 1974, and   Meera et al., 1999).

(4) The oil in thekernal increased the motility of GIT of the mouse. The action was comparable with castor oil. The oil by itself is non-irritant but releases an irritant principle when incubated with lipase (Miglani et al., 1971).

(5) LD50 of chebulinwas 550 mg/kg in mice. IT exhibited antispasmodic action on smooth muscle similar to that of papaverine (J.Sci.Ind. as. 1962, 21C. 345)

(6) Ether extract showed higher antioxidant activity than BHA and BHT. Acid esters present in phenolic fraction of extract were found most effective (Chem. Abstr. 1993, 119, 269367c.)

(7) T. chebula fruit extracts inhibited ATPase activity in the cardiac muscle of frog in a dose-dependent manner (Azeem et al., 1990 & 1992).

(8) Various extracts prepared from the fruit rind of T-chebulahave shown cardiotonic activity when tested on normal as well as hypodynamic isolated frog hearts. The extracts increased the force of contraction and cardiac output without altering the heart rate (Reddy et al., 1990).

(9) 46 children with diarrhoeawee given T. chebula and T. vulgare decoction. 57.17% children were cured within 3 days of treatment (Sharma et al., 1984).

(10) T. chebula is found to possess hypoglycaemic activity on glucose-induced hyperglycaemia in rats (Tripathi at al., 1979).

(11) The laxative property of T. chebula is studied in one of the clinical studies. Symptoms other thenfrequencey, evacuationand consistency were improved with T. Chebula fruit powder (6 gm) given after meals for seven days. Total response of the drug was excellent in 20% cases and good in 80% cases of simple constipation. No side effects reported (Tripathi et al., 1983).

(12) Antioxidant property of T. chebula is reported. Alcoholic extract 10-20 fg/ml markedly inhibited lipid peroxidation of mouse liver and lung homogenate and mitochondria. The above extracts effectively scavenge the oxygen free radical produced by V132 plus light, and inhibit H2o2-induced red cell heamolyses20 fg/ml of extract significantly inhibited chemiluminescene of human leukocytes induced by TPA (20ng/m1). The extract (50fg/ ml) also prevented DNA breaks of human leukocytes induced by TPA and cigraette smoke condensate (Fu Naiwu et al., 1992).

(13) The hypolipidemic action of ethyl acetate soluble fraction of the alcoholic extract of T. chebula stem in normal and Trition-treated rats is reported (Khanna et al; 1993 and Amrithaveni et al., 2001).

(14) T. chelaula inhibited HIV-1 proteas activity at a concentaration of 25 microg/ml in the flurogenic assay (Xu H.X. et al., 1996).

(15) Aqueous extract of T. chebula (64-128 microg/ml concentration) exhibited the most prominent anti-HBV activities (KinT.G. et al., 1999).

(16) BalaHaritaki is found to be effective in reducing the levels of total lipids, serum TG, serum cholesterol, LDL, and VLDL significantly. On the other hand level of HDL is increased significantly (Sood& Sharma, 2000).

(17) The water soluble fration of T. chebula (WFTC) administration one hour before compound 48/80 injection inhibited compound 48/80 induced anaphylactic shock 100% with doses of0.01 to 1.0 g/kg. When WFTC was administered 500 10 min after compound 48/80 injection, the mortality also decreased in a dose dependent manner. The results indicated that WFTC may possess a strong anti anaphylactic action (Shin et al., 2001).

(18) The fruit-pulp is used as a dentifrice to cure bleeding and ulceration of gums. Water in which the fruits have been steeped overnight is a good cooling wash for eyes, affording relief in conjunctivitis and similar affections of the eyes. When coarsely powdered and smoked in a pipe, the fruit affords relief in asthma. A fine paste of the fruit with carron oil effects a more rapid cure when applied to burns and scalds than when carron oil alone is used. The bark is endowed with both diuretic and cardiotonic properties. Methanolic extract of the trunk bark showed physiological activity on blood pressure and action on the intestine of rabbit and the uterus of guineapig. The leaves contain sbikiraic, dehydroshikimic and quinic acids [Kitt. &Basu, II,   1021-22; Chopra, loc. cit.; Indian For., 1939, 65, 126; Shabnam, ibid., 1964, 90, 508; Bhatnagar et al., J. sci. industr. Res., 1961, 20A, (8), suppl., 11, 14j.

(19) For medicinal purposes, the fruits are usually picked green and dried black. In Indian medicine, six kinds of fruits are usually recognized: `Halileh-i-zira’, when the size is that of a cumin seed; `Halileh-i-javi’, when the size is of a barley corn; `Halileh-i-zangi’, when the size is of a raisin, 1-1aliIeh-i-chini’, when the fruit is greenish yellow   and   somewhat hard; HaliIeh-i-asfar,   when it is very nearly mature and `Halileh-i-kabur, or fully mature fruit. The second, third and sixth kinds of these are used in medicine; the fourth and fifth are good for tanning (Information from F.R.I., Dehra Dun).


Side affects and conditions where intake is not advised

Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is best avoided in

  • AdhvaAtiKhinna – people who have walked for very long and who are tired
  • Balavarjita – Who have depleted immunity and strength
  • Rooksha (dry) – Who are feeling dry and are emaciated
  • Krusha – having lean body
  • Langhanakarshita – who have fasted for long
  • Pittadhika – In people with increased Pitta (burning sensation)
  • Garbhavati – in pregnant woman
  • Vimuktarakta – After blood letting treatment, during and soon aftermenstruation
  • Kshut, Trishna, Ushnarta – who are having severe thirst, hunger andhave got exposed on Sun for long.
  • Ajeerna – in patients suffering from indigestion
  • Strimadyakarshita – those who are emaciated due to increased sexual activity and alcohol
  • Mukhashosha – in people having dry mouth
  • Hanusthambha – in people with neck stiffness
  • Galagraha – in people with dry throat
  • Navajvara – in early stages of fever

Though there are a few nutritive health benefits, Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is more of cleansing, moisture absorbing, weight reducing in nature. Hence it is advised to avoid during pregnancy.

In most of the contra indications explained above – all have dryness, lack of water supply – kind of symptoms. Haritaki, already being astringent, is not advisable because it may further contribute to dryness.

Courtesy : The Wealth of India series , DravyaGuna by Dr. J.L.N. Sastry , InidanMateriaMedica by VaidyaBhagwan Dash , DravyaGuna by Dr. GnjanendraPandey