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Terminalia chebula

Terminalia chebula


No documentation.

Vernacular Name

Haritaki, a-ru-ra, ahlilaj asfar, aralu, buah kaduka, chebulic myrobalan, halaila zard, halaila-e-zard, halla, harad, harara, he lile, kadukkai, pangah, rispiger myrobalanenbaum. [1]


Terminalia chebula is a rust-colored deciduous tree growing throughout South Asia up to an elevation of 1,500m. Reaching a height of 30m and a width of 1m, this tree yields broad ovular leaves that grow alternate to or opposite one another. The leaves grow to be roughly 7-18cm long and 4-6cm wide with a texture resembling leather. The fruit borne of T. chebula are roughly 2-4cm in length, glabrous, ovoid and turn yellow or orange when ripe.

Origin / Habitat

Because of its perceived wide variety of medicinal uses, Haritaki is known as the “King of Medicines” in Tibet, and always is listed first in the Indian Materia Medica. Indian folklore suggests that the plant came to be after the Indian god Indra spilled drops of Ambrosa to the earth while drinking it, thus creating “Haritaki”. It is thought to be native to Tibet. [2]

Chemical Constituents

Chebulic acid, chebulinic acid, D-fructose, D-glucose, gallic acid, punicalagin, saccharose, shikimic acid, quinic acid, tannic acid, terchebulin, terflavin A. [3]

Plant Part Used

Fruit. [1]

Traditional Use

Haritaki is considered a very important herb in Ayurvedic medicine. As it is used by itself in numerous medical applications, Haritaki has achieved an almost mythological standpoint in Ayurvedic medicine and is used as treatment for a vast variety of ailments, hence its classification as a “rasayana” herb. [4] Haritaki has been indicated to be a useful treatment for general intestinal health and has been specifically indicated to treat anorexia, flatulence, hemorrhoids, jaundice and other liver disorders, spleen disorders, ulcer, gastritis, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, colic, and intestinal worms. [1][4][5] Young fruits can be used as a mild purgative. [1] Haritaki is also said to be useful in promoting respiratory health as it has been used to treat asthma, cough, and pharyngalgia. [1] 

Due to its high tannin content it is also used as an astringent for both skin and mouth. Used topically, it makes an effective wound dressing for various lacerations, leprosy, eye disease, and general skin disease. For oral disorders, Haritaki is an effective mouthwash, and it is said to assist in mending gingivitis, stomatitis, and spongy or ulcerated gums. The closer to ripe the fruit is, the more astringent its action. [1][3] 

Other indications include treatment for fever, cardiac dysfunction, hiccups, and neuropathy. [3] According to the Materia Medica, Haritaki is made up of seven subspecies, though the differences in these seven types of Haritaki are more of a result of geographical and climate discrepancies than genetic. The seven types of Haritaki are Vijaya, Rohini, Putana, Abhaya, Amrita, Jivanti and Chetaki. Vijaya is the preferred type, as only Vijaya and Jivanti can be used to treat all diseases associated with Haritaki. Rohini, Putana, Abhaya, Amrita and Chetaki are used for wounds and ulcers, as a wound dressing, for purification, for eye disorders and for its purgative properties, respectively. [6] Haritaki is unique in Ayurvedic medicine as it not only regulates all three doshas, but it has five of the six rasa, lacking only the lavan (salty) rasa, which is extremely rare for medicinal herbs. [2] Haritaki is also one of the three ingredients in the Ayurvedic formula “Triphala”, which is considered a highly effective formula which is useful to an even wider variety of medical conditions. 



The medicinal applications of T. chebula are manifold, and many of them are a direct result of the herb’s strong antioxidant activity. [7] Not only is T. chebula an effective free radical scavenger, but it also is a ferric-reducing antioxidant. [8] Its free radical scavenging ability is comparable to ascorbate and gallic acid. [9] The role of T. chebula as an antioxidant directly relates to its hepatoprotective activity. [10] T. chebula protected rats against oxidative toxicity in the liver. [8] Pretreatment with T. chebula resulted in a protective effect on the liver from tBHP-induced liver toxicity in rats. It reduced oxidative stress and the occurrence of liver lesions, hepatocyte swelling while it repaired necrosis in the liver. [11] Additionally, T. chebula had a chemoprotective effect on the toxicity of nickel, a known pollutant and nephrotoxic, as it reduced nickel-induced oxidative damage. [12] 

In addition to its hepatoprotective ability, the antioxidant properties of T. chebula exhibited a radioprotective effect, according to some studies. [2][13] Radiation damage was reduced when pretreatment of T. chebula occurred. The extract of T. chebula also protected human lymphocytes from damage induced by gamma radiation. [9] The antioxidant property of T. chebula also exhibits an inhibitory effect on cellular aging, as T. chebula increased the lifespan of HEK-N/F cells by 40%. [14] 

T. chebula exhibited anticancer properties in some studies. T. chebula reduced the occurrence of renal cell tumor in ferric nitrilotracetic acid-induced tumorigenises in rats. [12] It also induced cytotoxicity in several malignant cell lines, including human prostate, breast and bone cell lines. T. chebula decreased cell viability and cell proliferation as well. [15] 

T. chebi exhibited a hypoglycemic effect in an in vitro study. These findings in addition to increased insulin release suggest that T. chebula may have use as an antidiabetic and a renoprotective however, more studies are suggested.  [7][16] 

The gastrointestinal benefits of T. chebula have also been documented as it has demonstrated antibacterial activity against numerous intestinal bacteria. [17] Additionally, T. chebula increased gastric emptying time as well as emptying volume. [2][18] 

In rats, T. chebula displayed a cardioprotective effect on isoproterenol-induced myocardial injury. It inhibited the lipid peroxide formation in the heart. [19] 

Due to its antibacterial activity, T. chebula has been shown to be effective in both treating open wounds. [20][21] The same properties exhibited beneficial results when used to treat caries and other dental disorders as a mouthwash.  [22][23] 

T. chebula exhibited antianaphylactic action in rats decreasing mortality rates. [24]


No documentation.

Interaction and Depletions

Interaction with other Herbs

No documentation.

Interaction with Drugs

Based on pharmacology, this herb should be avoided by those using diuretics and or laxatives and by those who are underweight or frail. [1]

Precautions and Contraindications

Side effects

No documentation.


Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.

Age limitation

Not to be used with children.

Adverse reaction

No documentation.


  1. Kapoor, LD. CRC Handbook of Ayurvedic Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press; 2001.322.
  2. Chattopadhyay RR, Bhattacharyya SK. Terminalia chebula: An update. Phcog Rev. Jan-May2007: 1(1); 151-156.
  3. Thomson Healthcare. PDR for Herbal Medicines. Montvale, NJ: Thomson Healthcare Inc. 2007.861.
  4. Rege NN, Thatte UM, Dahanukar SA. Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. Phytother Res. Jun1999;13(4):275-291.
  5. Rao NK, Nammi S. Antidiabetic and renoprotective effects of the chloroform extract of Terminalia chebula Retz. seeds in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 7May2006;6:17.
  6. Nadkarni AK, Indian Materia Medica, Volume 1. 3rd Edition. Bombay: Popular Prakashan Pvt. Ltd;1982.
  7. Cheng HY, Lin TC, Yu KH, Yang CM, Lin CC. Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of Terminalia chebula. Biol Pharm Bull. Sep2003;26(9):1331-1335.
  8. Lee HS, Jung SH, Yun BS, Lee KW. Isolation of chebulic acid from Terminalia chebula Retz. and its antioxidant effect in isolated rat hepatocytes. Arch Toxicol. Mar2007;81(3):211-218.
  9. Gandhi NM, Nair CK. Radiation protection by Terminalia chebula: some mechanistic aspects. Mol Cell Biochem. Sep2005;277(1-2):43-48.
  10. Tasduq SA, Singh K, Satti NK, Gupta DK, Suri KA, Johri RK. Terminalia chebula (fruit) pre-vents liver toxicity caused by sub-chronic administration of rifampicin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide in combination. Hum Exp Toxicol. Mar2006;25(3):111-118.
  11. Lee HS, Won NH, Kim KH, Lee H, Jun W, Lee KW. Antioxidant effects of aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula in vivo and in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. Sep2005;28(9):1639-1644.
  12. Prasad L, Husain Khan T, Jahangir T, Sultana S. Chemomodulatory effects of Terminalia chebula against nickel chloride induced oxidative stress and tumor promotion response in male Wistar rats. Pharmazie. Oct2007;62(10):790-797.
  13. Naik GH, Priyadarsini KI, Naik DB, Gangabhagirathi R, Mohan H. Studies on the aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as a potent antioxidant and a probable radioprotector. Phytomedicine. Sep2004;11(6):530-538.
  14. Na M, Bae K, Kang SS, Min BS, Yoo JK, Kamiryo Y, Senoo Y, Yokoo S, Miwa N. Cytoprotective effect on oxidative stress and inhibitory effect on cellular aging of Terminalia chebula fruit. Phytother Res. Sep2004;18(9):737-741.
  15. Saleem A, Husheem M, Härkönen P, Pihlaja K. Inhibition of cancer cell growth by crude extract and the phenolics of Terminalia chebula retz. fruit. J Ethnopharmacol. Aug2002;81(3):327-336.
  16. Murali YK, Anand P, Tandon V, Singh R, Chandra R, Murthy PS. Long-term effects of Terminalia chebula Retz. on hyperglycemia and associated hyperlipidemia, tissue glycogen content and in vitro release of insulin in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. Nov2007;115(10):641-646.
  17. Kim HG, Cho JH, Jeong EY, Lim JH, Lee SH, Lee HS. Growth-inhibiting activity of active component isolated from Terminalia chebula fruits against intestinal bacteria. J Food Prot. Sep2006;69(9):2205-2209.
  18. Tamhane MD, Thorat SP, Rege NN, Dahanukar SA. Effect of oral administration of Terminalia chebula on gastric emptying: an experimental study. J Postgrad Med. Jan-Mar1997;43(1):12-13.
  19. Suchalatha S, Shyamala Devi CS. Protective effect of Terminalia chebula against experimental myocardial injury induced by isoproterenol. Indian J Exp Biol. Feb2004;42(2):174-178.
  20. Malekzadeh F, Ehsanifar H, Shahamat M, Levin M, Colwell RR. Antibacterial activity of black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula Retz) against Helicobacter pylori. Int J Antimicrob Agents. Jul 2001;18(1):85-88.
  21. Suguna L, Singh S, Sivakumar P, Sampath P, Chandrakasan G. Influence of Terminalia chebula on dermal wound healing in rats. Phytother Res. May2002;16(3):227-231.
  22. Jagtap AG, Karkera SG. Potential of the aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as an anticaries agent. J Ethnopharmacol. 15Dec1999;68(1-3):299-306.
  23. Carounanidy U, Satyanarayanan R, Velmurugan A. Use of an aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as an anticaries agent: a clinical study. Indian J Dent Res. Oct-Dec2007;18(4):152-156.
  24. Shin TY, Jeong HJ, Kim DK, Kim SH, Lee JK, Kim DK, Chae BS, Kim JH, Kang HW, Lee CM, Lee KC, Park ST, Lee EJ, Lim JP, Kim HM, Lee YM. Inhibitory action of water soluble fraction of Terminalia chebula on systemic and local anaphylaxis. J Ethnopharmacol. Feb2001;74(2):133-140. 

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