Ayurveda places Harad at the highest pedestal which is why it is also called the ‘King of medicines.’ Ancient medicine systems claim that Harad holds the power to cure all diseases. Even the Tibetan medicine system reveres Harad in the same amount as Ayurveda does. Although the two systems classify the herb differently, the accepted number of varieties of Harad is seven in both. These include – Vijaya, Rohini, Putana, Amrita, Abhaya, Jivanti, and Chetaki. Each of the seven varieties vary in their physical and medicinal characteristics.
The Iranian traditional medicine system calls Harad as Halilah, describing it as possessing astringent properties.
The origin of Harad according to Indian mythology depicts its purgatory(cleansing) and heavenly nature. It is believed that once when Lord Indra was drinking nectar, a few drops of it fell on the earth. This led to the birth of the Harad plant.
Harad (Hindi name) is commonly known as black or chebulic Myrobalan in English and Haritaki in Sanskrit. The plant has been given the botanical name – Terminalia chebula.
This Ayurvedic wonder finds mention in the Brhat Trayi or the three major Ayurvedic works – Charaka Samhita, Sushruta Samhita and Ashtanga Hridyam Samhita.
Harad: Anatomy And Distribution
Terminalia chebula is a large deciduous tree with branches growing in the shape of a rounded crown. The flowers are primarily yellowish-white in colour, often releasing a pungent odour. The fruit which is usually yellowish-green in colour is hard and nut-like and considered as the most important part of the plant. When it is picked and dried, it turns black and is called black myroblan. However, the black colour is obtained only when the unripe green fruit is dried. If the yellowish fruit is dried, yellow myroblan is obtained. This change in colour is due to the rise in tannin content when dried.
Ayurveda mentions the sub-Himalayan tract as the primary home of the tree. It can be found on the Himalayas at an elevation greater than 1500m distributed from river Ravi to Assam. However, certain other deciduous forests spread across the Indian sub-continent also house the Harad tree. Apart from India, it can be found in other Asian countries like China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Nepal etc.
Myrobalan Types And Distribution According To Ayurveda
As mentioned before, Ayurveda describes seven varieties of Myrobalan. These varieties have been divided according to the region where they grow in the Ayurvedic Nighantus (lexicon of medicinal plants).
- Vijaya – Vijaya can be found growing in the Vindhya Range and is said to possess the ability to cure all the diseases.
- Amruta – This variety grows in the deciduous forests of Madhya Pradesh. It is considered as an anti-toxic, often used in the Panchakarma therapy for detoxification.
- Rohini – Rohini can be found in Sindh (Jhansi) and grows a circular shaped fruit. It can be consumed but it is majorly used externally to heal wounds.
- Abhaya – Abhaya grows in the same areas as Amruta and is used to cure eye problems.
- Putana – It grows in the Himalayan region and like Rohini, it is mostly used externally.
- Jivanti – Growing in the Saurashtra region, Jeevanti finds use in oleation therapies (ayurvedic therapies of applying different oils on individuals).
- Chetaki – Chetaki also grows in the Himalayan region, especially Himachal Pradesh and has anti-toxic effects.
The two major varieties that are used as medicines are the Vijaya and Chetaki varieties, out of which Vijaya is considered best due to its ability to cure all diseases.
Harad: Properties and Nutritional Information
Haritaki, belonging to the family Combretaceae and being the most prominent of all Ayurvedic herbs houses numerous macro and micronutrients like:
- Vitamin C
Harad has been found to be:
Haritaki’s Ayurvedic Properties or Gunadharma
- Physical property (Guna) – light and dry
- Taste (Rasa) – pungent, astringent, sour
- Potency (Veerya) – hot
- Conversion after digestion (Vipaka) – sweet after digestion
- Effect – balances all three doshas- Vata, Pitta and Kapha
Haritaki is not only known for its amazing medicinal properties but it has other uses too which makes it a multi-purpose herb. The fruit of the Haritaki tree is rich in tannins like Gallic acid. Due to antimicrobial properties of tannins, it is useful as a medicine to treat haemorrhoids, skin disorders etc. Tannins also have a preservation function and are useful in leather processing. Since tannins come in different colours, Harad fruit is also used as a dyeing agent.
Multi-Dimensional Benefits Of Haritaki
Harad is most famous for being one of the three constituents of Triphala (three myrobalans). Triphala is being used for thousands of years not only as a laxative but also a powerful detox agent. Harad itself is a mild laxative and can help ease constipation. Being rich in antioxidants like ellagic acid, harad guards against the dangerous Helicobactor pyroli and reduces the chances of development of ulcers. It also improves bowel movement and provides relief from bleeding when affected with Piles. All in all, a regular intake of harad promotes a healthy digestive system.
- Acharya Balakrishna suggests a remedy for constipation. In a pan fry small pieces of harad in Castor oil (or Erand tail). Strain the harad pieces and blend them into a powdered form. When suffering from constipation, adults must consume one teaspoon of this powder daily. Children must be given only half a teaspoon of this powder.
- Harad consumed along with ghee can help in easing out loose motions.
- Patients suffering from piles must consume harad in combination with jaggery.
Since harad builds a strong digestive system, it ensures better absorption of food. Thereby it not only aids in weight loss but also weight gain as it balances appetite and improves metabolism.
Harad has a rejuvenating property and it improves the natural mechanism of a body to fight against infections. Being anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-fungal, Haritaki ensures that the body is safe against the attack of any unwanted pathogen. It also balances the production of Kapha in the body, thus keeping seasonal cough and cold at bay.
Suggested Remedy: Making a powder of harad fried in ghee and consuming daily works as a tonic that helps increase immunity.
A 2009 research proved the effect of Myrobalan as a powerful anti-oxidant. Thereby it frees the body from free radicals protecting it from deadly diseases like cancer.
Harad for Oral health
Myrobalan in powdered form can be applied on teeth for stronger and whiter teeth. It is also effective in the treatment of painful mouth ulcers.
Suggested Remedy: Prepare a paste of Haritaki powder and yoghurt. The thick paste can be applied to painful areas of mouth like boils or swollen gum. The paste can also be diluted by mixing water and used to rinse the mouth. Applying Harad paste on swollen salivary glands when affected with mumps (a contagious and infectious viral disease causing swelling of the parotid salivary glands in the face, and risk of sterility in adult males) provides relief from pain.
Terminalia chebula shows a hypoglycemic effect and lowers blood sugar level to normal as it increases the natural secretion of insulin.
Harad is a hepatoprotective herb; that is it protects the liver from damage. Oral intake of harad has been found to reduce toxicity and reducing the excessive burden from the liver.
Beneficial For Skin
Harad has a Rasayana or rejuvenating property which means it helps in purifying blood. This directly affects the skin which looks more fresh and glowing in the absence of internal impurities. Being a rejuvenating agent also means Harad aids in the removal of unwanted dead cells and growth of new cells and thereby it can be consumed if one wishes to be free of acne and marks on the skin. Apart from this, being a disinfectant, Harad is often applied on wounds too.
Apart from this, Myrobalan also works as a wonderful hair tonic. It not only combats hair loss but also removes dryness making them healthier and thicker together.
Suggested Remedy: In case of wounds, apply a paste of harad powder and coconut oil for faster healing.
Harad For Arthritis & Joint Pain
Harad aids in controlling Vata related disorders which primarily affect the joints. People suffering from painful joint disorders like gout and arthritis can think of shifting from painkillers to Harad.
Suggested Remedy: A remedy for arthritis is suggested by Vaidya Satyaprakash Arya. Black harad, when fried in castor oil and consumed daily in powdered form, can help ease out arthritis pain.
For Heart disorders
In the seventh century AD, Vagabhatta became the first Indian physician to use Haritaki for heart ailments. Due to the hypocholesterolemic properties of Haritaki, it works as a blood purifier. It reduces blood pressure and prevents building up of toxins and cholesterol in arteries, minimizing the chances of heart disease.
Using haritaki as eye drops can be helpful in problems like conjunctivitis, dry eyes and other infections. Any Ayurvedic eye drops you find in the market contains Haritaki as one of its primary ingredients.
Suggested Remedy: For dark circles, soak 1 harad seed at night. In the morning, rub it on a stone to get a paste type consistency. Apply it daily for a few weeks and dark circles will visibly reduce.
- Adults: 5-10 g Harad churna daily
- Children: 1-2 g Harad churna daily
- Harad Kwatha – 4 to 5 teaspoons once or twice a day after food
Consumption According To Dosha
- To balance Kapha – consume haritaki with sendha namak
- To balance Pitta – consume haritaki with khandsari
- To balance Vata – consume haritaki with ghee
Harad According To Seasons
Consume Harad With
Vasant Ritu or Spring
Grisham Ritu or Summer
Varsha Ritu or Monsoon
Rock Salt (sendha namak)
Sharad Ritu or Autumn
Shishir Ritu or Winter
Long pepper (Pippali)
Harad Home Remedies
- In a mixing bowl add powdered harad, one teaspoon besan and one tablespoon rose water.
- Mix the ingredients. Apply the facemask and let it rest for about 15 minutes.
- Wash off with cool water.
Preparing Triphala Churna At Home
An ancient Indian remedy to treat many health conditions, Triphala churna can be easily prepared at home.
- Vagabhatta, the ancient Indian Ayurveda specialist gave the formulation of Triphala. He calls for mixing amla, bahera and harad in the ratio 3:2:1
- The three herbs are taken in the aforementioned ratio with the seeds removed.
- Grind them into powder, mix and store in an airtight container.
- Triphala is ready!
Triphala churna must be consumed according to the disorder. Consuming it at night with warm water or milk helps in releasing digestive disorders and acts as a laxative. Whereas when consumed in the morning, Triphala works as a tonic.
Precautions & Side Effects
Though Harad claims to cure most disorders, it does come with certain side effects which must be kept in mind.
- Harad has the ability to lower blood sugar level which is positive for diabetic patients. However, care must be taken not to consume it with the prescribed medication. It is always better to obtain a doctor’s opinion. Also, consumption must be stopped at least two weeks before a person goes for any kind of surgery.
- There is a possibility that Myrobalan might slow down the blood clot formation process.
- Pregnant and lactating women must abstain from consuming. This is because there is no foolproof evidence of harad being safe in pregnancy, thus better to avoid.
- Too much consumption of the herb might not solve your digestive issues but enhance them instead. Consuming more than required Harad can lead to bloating and diarrhoea.