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Haritaki: The Health, Beauty, and Spiritual Benefits of This Ancient Herb

Ayurveda is the traditional Hindu system of medicine and is full of natural remedies for both health woes and beauty needs. One of the many versatile Ayurvedic herbs is haritaki. Technically the fruit of the deciduous myrobalan plum tree, haritaki is considered an important herb in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine, both forms of indigenous medicine in India. The fruit itself is small, oblong, and less than an inch in size. The fruits are often collected when they’re still green and raw and then dried until golden brown or black. They’re then powdered and made into Ayurvedic remedies. The fruit’s potency is based on where the fruit was collected, its color, and its shape. Haritaki is also known as:

  • harad
  • haradey
  • kadduki (in South Asia)
  • kayakalpa 

In Tamil, it’s referred to as “kayakalpa,” a rejuventator of the body that balances all dosha, or humors. It’s often referred to as a “life-giving” herb. 

Haritaki Health Benefits

Haritaki is prized in Ayurveda for its versatile health applications. Ayurvedic practitioners say that haritaki balances all the elements, especially ether and air. The combination of ether and air is known as Vata dosha, which is said to cause 80% of all diseases in Ayurveda. Practitioners of Ayurveda include it as part of treatment for a host of ailments, including both short-term and chronic health concerns. According to Ayurvedic researchers, haritaki is beneficial for:

  • cough
  • constipation, gas, and bloating
  • indigestion
  • detoxification
  • weight loss
  • skin disease
  • metabolism
  • immunity
  • fertility
  • libido
  • cleansing
  • supporting regular bowel movements
  • nourishing and rejuvenating the tissues

Haritaki Beauty Benefits

As a rejuvenating and regenerative herb with antioxidant properties, haritaki is believed to have the potential to improve the health of the skin, hair, and nails. 

According to 2019 research, haritaki may help address a variety of skin ailments. It can be used for day-to-day skin health by making it into a paste with some water or rose water. In a 2014 study, a haritaki paste created with powder, ghee, and water helped alleviate cracked feet.

A 2021 study notes that classical Ayurvedic texts include formulations for hair dyes using haritaki powder, noting these formulations have been used for generations with no adverse effects. The research also notes that haritaki not only darkens but softens hair. 

A 2019 study noted that haritaki’s antimicrobial properties may be helpful in alleviating nailbed infection, though more high quality research is needed. 

Haritaki Spiritual Benefits

According to ancient Hindu scriptures called the Vedas, a drop of nectar fell from the celestial cup of Lord Indra and sprouted the haritaki tree. The name haritaki can be interpreted as “that which embodies Hari,” or Lord Shiva, one of three Hindu gods responsible for the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. As a cleansing and restorative herb, it’s included in holistic health care to address dosha imbalances. Many believe it plays a role in spiritual balance as well. In Buddhism, haritaki is called “Big Golden Fruit” and represents a connection to the Buddha. It’s believed to embody the core value of Buddhism, compassion. Haritaki is valued for its regenerative potential as a cure for many ailments. The Medicine Buddha, an important icon in Mahayana Buddhism, is depicted as holding a haritaki fruit in both hands. 

Takeaway

Haritaki is an ancient Ayurvedic herb with a rich history that can be easily incorporated into modern health regimens. It may help with digestion and detoxification as well as several health issues. Always talk with a qualified herbalist and your healthcare professional before you begin taking herbs.

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