Haritaki, have you heard of it? I was put on to this amazing plant a few years back and want to share some of its secret powers.
Haritaki or Kadukkai botanically known as Terminalia chebula is a tree native to South Asia, India and Southwest China. This sweet but bitter plant is coined the “King of Herbs” in the Ayurvedic community because of its extraordinary healing powers. Haritaki’s medicinal benefits include digestive cleansing-relieving constipation, healing mouth ulcers, fighting wounds and infections, weight loss, healing diseased organs such as the kidneys and pancreas, anti-caries (prevent tooth decay), combating anemia, and antiviral activity from HIV. Recently, a new patent has been developed with Haritaki fruit and Brahmi herb working synergistically to improve brain health and brain functions. Additionally, Haritaki has been used in the Ayurveda community to stave off hair loss and fight fungal or bacterial infections on the scalp.
What Makes Haritaki so Healing?
Haritaki is rich in vitamin C, manganese, selenium, potassium, iron and copper. It also contains 12 fatty acids plant chemicals like – tannic acid, gallic acid, palmitic acid, stearic acid, and behenic acid. These fatty acids along with polyphenols, terpenes, anthocyanins, flavonoids, alkaloids, and glycosides, attribute to the many health and healing benefits. Let’s investigate a few of these properties to understand how they impact healing and hair growth.
Iron- helps produce the hemoglobin in blood which carries oxygen to the scalp which aids in the growth and repair of hair cells.
Tannins- (tannic acid) are excellent antioxidants that fight free radicals that destroy cells including hair and skin cells.
Flavonoids- powerful antioxidants important for reducing the risk of cancer, heart disease, and protects the brain from aging. Flavonoids also are antihistamines ( used to treat allergies) and contain antimicrobial properties.
Terpenes- essential oil that produces analgesic (anti-pain) or anti-inflammatory effects and can be used to treat fungal and bacterial infections.
Does the Research Back Up These Claims?
Inflammation in the scalp caused by atopic dermatitis including dandruff, eczema, or other skin conditions can be effectively reduced by Haritaki leaves. In one study, Haritaki leaves increased wound healing in rats and found that it inhibited gram-positive bacteria, Staphylococcus found in the area. Also, Haritaki’s angiogenic effects increased blood flow to the area which helped promote wound healing. In another study, Haritaki destroyed gram-positive and gram-negative human bacteria, specifically Staphylococcus aureus commonly found on the skin and hair of people. This bacterium can be found on the wounds of eczema or dermatitis preventing healing causing hair loss.
The leaves and bark of Haritaki are rich in antioxidants and phenolics which fight off damaging free radicals from the sun and prevent the death of our hair and skin cells. Additionally, Haritaki has been used to fight on dermatophytes (fungus) and yeast (candida) which can feed on the Keratin in our hair and damage the scalp and prevent hair growth.
Unfortunately, most of the evidence for haritaki's health effects comes from preliminary animal-based research studies. However, Haritaki’s properties have been and continued to be used by many in traditional and non-traditional medicine. I continue to use Haritaki to help heal my eczema and fight off scalp infections. See below for my video on how I use eczema when I’m having a flare up.