May 1, 2013

Haritaki - Kadukkai

Botanical Name: Terminalia chebula
Tamil: Kadukkai
Hindi: Harad
Marathi: Hirada
Kannada: Alalekaayi
Malayalam: Kadukka
Bengali: Horitoky
Assamese: Silikha
Telugu: Karakkaya
Sanskrit: Haritaki
Gujarati: Himmej

Terminalia chebula is a species of Terminalia, native to southern Asia from India and Nepal east to southwestern China (Yunnan), and south to Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Vietnam.

Part used : Fruit

Energetics :
- Rasa (taste) : All but salty, mainly astringent, bitter, hot, sweet
- Virya (action) : Heating
- Vipaka (post-digestive effect) : Sweet
- Guna (quality) : Light, Dry

Dhatus (tissus) : All

Srotas (systems) : Digestive, Excretory, Nervous, Respiratory

Action :

Laxative, astringent, anthelmintic, nervine, expectorant, tonic, increases appetite, rejuvenative especially to Vata and the large intestine, digestive, corrects the flow of Vata downwards, purifies breast milk, purgative, anti-tussive, improves intellect, increases longevity, anti-haemorrhoidal. Detoxifys and nourishes body tissues. Haritaki .is a rasayana suitable for everyone.
Haritaki is considered good for constipation and has antioxidant in proper amount. It has positive effects on the hair, skin eyes and liver.

Indications :

Gastro Intenstinal :
Constipation and diarrhoea are both treated- high dose for the former and low dose for the latter. Digestive upset or dysentery caused by parasites or infection (Shigella spp, Salmonella typhi), inflammation of mucus membranes, flatulence, borborygmus etc. Indicated in ulcers. It increases the digestive 'fire' and clears undigested residues. Useful in hiccups and also piles. Potential benefit in intestinal permeability and 'leaky gut syndrome'.

Reduces lipid deposits in the blood and Liver. Use with honey to help reduce cholesterol.

Wet, kapha-type coughs are cleared. It astringes all leakages from the body. It sends accumulated vata downwards and helps to clear wheezing, weak voice and asthma.

Used in all sorts of eye disorders- inflammation, conjunctivitis. Use as a wash.

Gargle in sore throat. Swill for stomatitis, gingivitis and periodontal disease- with cold water this encourages its astringent nature.

Haritaki means the 'remover of diseases'. 'Hara' is also the name of Lord Shiva, thus reflecting the sacred nature and exalted position of the plant. It is said to have originated when a drop of immortal nectar (amrita) fell from heaven to earth.

There are seven types of Haritaki ; Vijaya, rohini, putana, amrita, abhaya, jivanti, cetaki- they grow in different areas if India- Vijaya growing in the Vindhaya mountains is said to be the best. It grows throughout the deciduous forestes of India.

Its ironic activity as laxative and astringent reveal the diverse actions of this remarkable plant. Used unripe increases its laxative effect (Balharitaki). It has all flavours but salty; it is a common feature for rejuvenative plants to possess a full spectrum of tastes (cf Amalaki).

Its special action is to alleviate any excesses of and to balance all three doshas :
- Vata due to its sour, sweet and pungent tastes.
- Pitta due to its sweet, bitter and astringent tastes,
- Kapha due to its astringent, bitter and pungent tastes,
· Use with ghee for Vata. (Bhavaprakasha)
· Use with Rock salt for Kapha
· Use with sugar for Pitta

Using it with warm water promotes its anuloma or laxative effect.
It is cooked with castor oil to make Gandharva Haritaki- a demulcent purgative for alleviating Vata.
Its 'prabhava' or unique action is of balancing all three doshas.
Its other prabhava is that whilst it is a laxative, as it is sweet post-digestively, it is also nourishing. this is very rare for a detoxifying herb and points to its use in weakened patients.

Contraindications :
Not in pregnancy due to laxative and descending nature

Dosage :

1 teaspoon after dinner mixed with hot water. (Approx 3 - 10 g per day)
or as prescribed

For anaemia :
Mix in equal part with jaggery (full sugar cane).
Take 2 grams 2 times per day to control anaemia.

Note: Siddha treatment is based on complete physical examination of the patient, Naadi diagnosis, and other diagnostic criteria of the disease. The content given in this article is purely meant for information and education purpose only. Kindly consult a Siddha physician before any sort of self medication.