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Haritaki (Myrobalan): Benefits, Uses, Nutrition and Possible Side Effects

Haritaki, with the scientific name Chebulic myrobalan, is a fruit obtained from the seeds of Terminalia chebula trees. It is also known by names like “Myrobalan”, “Indian nut” or “Indian plum” and is quite popular in Ayurvedic medicine.

According to this traditional system, it is a food of ” tridoshic nature “, that is, it can balance the three doshas. In this way, it rebalances physical, mental and spiritual health, especially in case of illness. What are its benefits? What does science say? We detail it below.

Characteristics of Haritaki

In Ayurvedic medicine, haritaki is known as “the king of medicines”. The fruit is similar in shape to a drupe and is between 2 and 4.5 centimeters long and between 1.2 and 2.5 centimeters wide. It also has 5 longitudinal ridges.

Depending on its variety, it can have a sweet, sour or bitter taste. Also, its color is usually blackish green when ripe. It usually grows in tropical and subtropical regions of India, Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

From its shell a powder is made that is usually distributed for medicinal purposes. However, it is important to note that various haritaki products are distinguished. These are the following:

  • Vijaya.
  • Horns.
  • Chetaki.
  • Putna.
  • Jayanti.
  • Abhaya.
  • Amrita.

Nutritional properties of haritaki

Much of the benefits of haritaki are explained by its concentration of essential nutrients. To be more exact, the fruit is a source of vitamin C, manganese, selenium, potassium, iron and copper.

In turn, as stated in an article published in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine, it provides other phytoconstituents such as the following:

  • Fatty acids (linoleic acid, oleic acid and palmitic acid).
  • Tannins.
  • Amino acids.
  • Glucose.
  • Quininas.

Due to this composition, antibacterial, antitumor, hepatoprotective, cardioprotective, antiviral and antispasmodic properties, among others, are attributed to it. What is it for?

Uses and Benefits of Haritaki

The medicinal applications of haritaki are described in Ayurvedic and Tibetan books. In these traditional systems it is valued for its potential to prevent and treat diseases. However, the evidence on its benefits remains limited. Therefore, it is important to use it with caution.

1. Digestive health

In Ayurvedic medicine, haritaki has been used as an adjuvant for the detoxification of the digestive system. Its intake promotes intestinal function and helps prevent disorders such as constipation.

In addition, among other things, it contributes to the relief of the following symptoms:

  • Heartburn.
  • Flatulence.
  • Peptic ulcers.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Spasms and abdominal cramps.

In addition to the above, it is believed that this fruit stimulates the secretion of digestive juices, decreases inflammation and favors the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestine.

2. Immune system

Haritaki extract is used as a supplement to strengthen the immune system. Its antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial properties contribute to the prevention of infections. In addition, its contribution of vitamin C stimulates the functions of leukocytes, which is also key to optimizing defenses.

For all of the above, the remedy is associated with the prevention of the following diseases:

  • Allergies.
  • Skin infections.
  • Conjunctivitis.
  • Respiratory tract infections.
  • Intestinal infections.
  • Autoimmune diseases (arthritis, lupus, celiac disease).

3. Metabolic health

The phytoconstituents in haritaki, especially tannins, fatty acids, and amino acids, have a positive impact on metabolic health. An animal study published in Phytotherapy Research associates the consumption of this fruit with the prevention of high blood glucose levels, insulin resistance, high cholesterol and other factors linked to metabolic syndrome.

4. Inflammation and oxidative stress

The rich supply of antioxidants in haritaki is beneficial in regulating inflammatory processes in the body and reducing the negative effects of oxidative stress. Specifically, its intake is related to the increase in glutathione and superoxide dismutase, key to fighting free radicals.

Due to these effects, haritaki supplementation is believed to have neuroprotective and antitumor effects. Its moderate consumption helps reduce the risk of chronic diseases that impair quality of life.

5. Cardiovascular health

Although the evidence is limited, this fruit is related to good heart health. Popular literature suggests that it helps improve blood flow, which would help control blood pressure. In addition, due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capacity, it would stimulate the elimination of bad cholesterol and help prevent atherosclerosis.

Other Benefits of Haritaki

  • Moderate consumption of haritaki serves as a supplement for weight loss. Specifically, it reduces anxiety about food and promotes optimal functioning of the metabolism.
  • The topical use of the extracts of this fruit is useful for the prevention of skin infections. It is even believed that it helps fight acne and promotes healing.
  • Its application on the scalp reduces the presence of dandruff, itching and excessive hair loss. In addition, it leaves a silky and healthy appearance.

Dosage and presentations of haritaki

Haritaki is often available in powder, capsule, and tea form. Dosages may vary depending on the type and its manufacturer.

In general, they range from 1 to 5 grams a day, twice a day, diluted in warm water or milk with honey. In any case, it is essential to always consult the label and respect the recommendations for consumption.

For use as a topical remedy, the powder can be combined with rosewater, coconut oil, or honey. It is rubbed on the skin, as long as there are no open wounds. Likewise, diluted in water, it can be applied to the scalp.

Risks and Possible Side Effects

Despite its benefits, haritaki can lead to some side effects, especially when taken without the supervision of an Ayurvedic or general practitioner. These reactions include the following:

  • Stomatitis.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Fatigue.
  • Fever.
  • Dehydration.
  • Jaw stiffness.
  • Nutritional deficiencies.

However, due to its hypoglycemic qualities, its simultaneous consumption with diabetes medications should be avoided. In fact, the ideal is to orient yourself in case you are taking any type of drug. In these cases, it can reduce or enhance its effects, which puts health at risk.

For safety, it is best to avoid its administration in children, pregnant or lactating women and patients with chronic diseases. In the latter case, you should first consult a doctor.

What to remember about haritaki?

In Ayurveda medicine, haritaki is a well-known remedy to boost metabolism, improve defenses and protect the cardiovascular system. Even so, its use should be prudent, under the supervision of an Ayurvedic or general doctor.

It is not considered a treatment of first choice in case of diseases and is not exempt from causing side effects. Therefore, it is advisable to take only the dosages suggested by the manufacturer.

Although it can be applied as a topical remedy, it is advisable to do a test before using it. It is enough to put a small amount on one of the areas of the skin and wait between 12 and 24 hours. If there are no unwanted reactions, it can be used without problem.

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