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Chebulic Myrobalan (Terminalia Chebula) - Health Benefits, Medicinal Properties, Uses, Dosage

terminalia chebula natural

English: Myrobalan, inknut

Hindi: Hara

Sanskrit: Haritaki

The chebulic myrobalan is of great importance in Ayurvedic medicine. It is known as haritaki in Sanskrit because it is sacred to Shiva (Hara). It is an ingredient of Triphala, or 'three fruits', a rasayana which also contains Tbelerica (Bibhitakz) and Phyllanthus emblica (Amalakz). The plant was first mentioned in Chinese medicine in 1061 and it is also used in Tibetan medicine, where it is referred to as the 'king of medicines'. It has been known as Abhay as it is thought to promote fearlessness.


It is found in the sub-Himalayan tract of India and in Myanmar, Sri Lanka and other Asian countries, up to an altitude of 1500 m.

Botanical description

A large deciduous tree reaching up to 30 m in height with a trunk girth of up to 2.5 m (Plate 63). The bark is dark brown, often longitudinally cracked, exfoliating in woody scales. The leaves are glabrous, opposite, ovate or elliptic and up to 20 cm long with an acute apex. The flowers are yellowish-white, in terminal spikes, with an unpleasant odour. The fruit is an ellipsoidal, pendulous drupe, up to 5 em long, yellow to orange-brown in colour, sometimes tinged with red or black and hard when ripe. The seeds are hard and pale yellow.

Parts used

Fruits, leaves and stem.

Traditional and modern use

The fruits are used as an aperient, astringent, cardiotonic, carminative, fungicide, laxative, tonic, demulcent, purgative, alterative, febrifuge, antiasthmatic and is thought to strengthen the brain and enrich the blood. It is also used in bronchitis, burns, conjunctivitis, cough, dysurea, inflammation, leucorrhoea, measles, metritis, prolapse, ulcer, splenomegaly and cancer.

Ethnoveterinary usage

The fruits are used in bloat and as an appetite stimulant and the seeds are used to treat wounds in ruminants.

Major chemical constituents
Triterpenoid glycosides

Chebulosides I and II, arjunin, arjunglucoside, 2a-hydroxyursolic acid and 2a-hydroxymicromiric acid have been reported.

Tannins and polyphenols

Chebulinic acid, chebulin, punicalagin, punicalin, terflavins A, B, C and 0, maslinic acid, gallic acid, synergic acid, terchebulin I, I ,2,3,4,6-penta-O-galloyl-l3- 0?glucopyranose and others have been isolated.

Medicinal and pharmacological activities

Cardiotonic activity: Extracts prepared from the fruit rind of T. chebula, when tested on normal as well as hypodynamic isolated frog hearts, increased the force of contraction and cardiac output without changing the heart rate.

Antianaphylactic activity: The water-soluble fraction was studied on systemic and local anaphylaxis and found to be effective. Systemic and passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was inhibited and serum histamine levels were reduced in a dose-dependent manner. The fraction also significantly inhibited histamine release from rat peritoneal mast cells, indicating that it may possess antianaphylactic action.

Antimutagenic activity: The antimutagenicity of an aqueous extract of dry fruits of T. chebula was determined for two direct?acting mutagens, sodium azide and 4-nitro-O-phenylenediamine (NPD). Strains TAIOO, TA1535, TA97a and TA98 of Salmonella typhimurium and the S9-dependent mutagen 2-aminofluorene (2-AF) were used. The extract reduced NPD as well as 2-AF induced histidine revertants, but did not have any perceptible effect against sodium azide in TAIOO and TAI535 strains. Preincubation studies showed an enhanced inhibitory effect.

Antitumour activity: Gallic acid, I ,2,3,4,6?penta -O-galloyl-l3- D-glucopyranose, chebulagic acid and chebulinic acid, isolated from the methanol fraction of T. chebula fruits, exhibited moderate cytotoxicity against cultured human tumour celllines.

Antibacterial activity: Gallic acid and its ethyl ester exhibited strong antimicrobial activity against methicillin-resistant strains of Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). In another study, an extract of T. chebula showed a potent wide-spectrum antibacterial activity against human pathogenic Gram-positive and Gram?negative bacteria.

Antiviral activity: The fruit extract, when orally administered in combination with aciclovir, exhibited a strong anti-HSV-I activity by reducing virus in brain and skin more strongly than aciclovir alone. The extract also showed a significant inhibitory activity on HIV-I reverse transcriptase.

Immunomodulatory activity: The crude extract of a formula containing T. chebula, Tinospora cordifolia, Berberis aristata and Zingiber officinale showed a significant enhancement in humoral immunity measured by haemagglutination titre and cell-mediated immune response, exhibited by inhibition of leucocyte migration.

Antiamoebic activity: Antiamoebic effects of an ethanolic extract of the formulation above (T. chebula, Tinospora cordifolia, Berberis aristata, Zingiber officinale) against experimental caecal amoebiasis in rats (Entamoeba histolytica) showed an effective cure rate compared with controls.

Antioxidant activity: An ethanolic extract of the leaves significantly inhibited lipid peroxidation in mouse liver, lung homogenate and mitochondria, by effectively scavenging oxygen free radicals and inhibiting H202-induced red cell haemolysis. It also produced a significant inhibition in the chemiluminescence of human leucocytes induced by tissue plasminogen activator (TPA, 20 ng/ml). The extract also prevented DNA breaks in human leucocytes induced by TP A and cigarette smoke condensates.

Safety profile

No adverse effects of T. chebula have been reported in the literature. The maximum tolerated doses of the 50% ethanolic extract of the stem bark and fruit were found to be 25 mg/kg body weight and 100 mg/kg body weight respectively, in adult albino rats.


  • Powder: 1-6 g (higher doses are laxative)
  • Decoction: 56-112 ml

Ayurvedic properties

  • Rasa: All rasas (except lavana)
  • Guna: Laghu (light), ruksha (dry)
  • Veerya: Ushna (hot)
  • Vipa1ut: Madhur (sweet)
  • Dosha: Pacifies tridosha

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