Inknut or Haritaki is a powerful medicinal plant that holds a distinguished position in the world of Ayurveda, Homeopathy and Unani medicine. Also called ‘the king of herbs’, Haritaki constitutes one of the components of the Triphala formulation that detoxifies the body.
Haritaki or Harad has a multitude of benefits and effectively treats all kinds of skin and hair problems, gastrointestinal disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, renal problems, eye diseases, common cold and cough, boosts immunity, lowers cholesterol, aids in weight loss and the list goes on.
Where is Inknut or Haritaki found?
Grown from the seeds of the Terminalia chebula tree, Inknut or Indian hog plum belongs to the Plantae Kingdom and Combretaceae family. Haritaki or Harad is a deciduous tree that is found in most Southeast Asian Countries.
It grows abundantly in tropical regions of India, especially in Tamil Nadu and also in Nepal, China, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
Inknut is widely used by traditional healers in rural India and is known by numerous vernacular names. Its botanical name is Terminalia chebula and is also referred to as Chebulic myrobalan.
In Hindi it is called Harad, Kadukkai in Tamil, Karakkaya in Telugu, Kadukka in Malayalam, Alalekaayi in Kannada, Harade in Gujarati, Hirada in Marathi, Haritaki in Bengali, Halela in Kashmiri and Harar in Punjabi and Harde Whole or Inknut in English.
Physical Description of Harad/ Kadukkai/ Karakkaya/Kadukka
Haritaki or Kadukkai trees grow quite tall, up to 50 to 80 feet in height. Its branches spread quickly and it has a shapely, round crown. The leaves are oval-shaped and can be seen hanging in clusters on the branches. The dark brown and cracked bark is strong and the tree blooms in May and June.
Its flowers are whitish-yellowish and have a pungent and unpleasant smell. The Kadukkai tree is prized because of its fruits that are the most used in traditional medicine. They are about two inches long, ovoid and have longitudinal grooves on their surface. The raw fruits appear green but slowly turn yellow to orangish-brown as they are ripe.
Chemical Composition of Haritaki/ Alalekayi/ Harade/ Harar/ Halela/ Hirada
The health benefits of Harar is attributed to its laxative, astringent, purgative, anti-bilious properties. Its fruit is rich in antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, manganese, selenian, potassium, iron and copper.
It has about 14 kinds of tannins such as gallic acid, chebulagic acid, punicalagin, ellagic acid, etc. Karakkaya also contains various Polyphenols like corilagin, galloyl glucose, terflavin A, etc. It also contains Fatty acids, Triterpenoid Glycosides and Flavonoids like Rutin, quercetin, luteolin and isoquercetin.
Skin Benefits of Haritaki
Haritaki or Karakkaya can be found in most Indian homes as it is used for treating skin problems naturally. It prevents the production of melanin and keeps the skin smooth, soft and supple and delays ageing.
As it is rich in antioxidants, it makes skin free from blemishes, dark circles and dark spots, open pores, wrinkles, pimples, rashes, irritation and inflammation. It acts as a natural toner and removes all impurities from the deeper layers of the skin, dealing with oxidative damage and improving skin health.
Gets rid of acne
It acts as a blood purifier due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. It is also an astringent and helps to eradicate teenage and adult acne.
To treat acne, make a paste using Harad powder and lukewarm water or green tea water. It should be applied to the affected area and then washed after 30 minutes. Doing this regularly will help to clear your acne. It also prevents scarring and reduces inflammation.
Offers UV Protection
Research has established that Harade or Halela offers protection from the harmful UV rays of the sun.
A face pack made by mixing Harad powder with warm milk aids in reducing pigmentation.
Gets rid of dark circles
Inknut or ink nut powder works wonders on under eye dark circles. It helps to remove them once and for all. Just crush an ink nut and make a fine paste with it by adding a few drops of water. Apply this paste on the dark circles and rinse off after 15 minutes. Secondly, you can also use ink nut powder mixed with a tablespoon of aloe vera gel and almond oil. Apply this mixture at least thrice a week and see your dark circles disappear.
Removes stubborn dark spots
Kadukka or Alalekai powder as it is known in south India helps to remove acne spots and even dark spots while giving you clear and even-toned skin. Mix Kadukka powder in a few drops of rosewater to make a smooth and thick mixture. Apply it on the face and rinse off with warm water after 20 minutes. You will see results with regular use.
Treats open pores
Haritaki can be used for treating open pores. A spoonful of ink nut powder should be mixed with half a tablespoon of gram flour and fuller’s earth or Multani mitti. This face pack should be applied to the face and then washed after 30 minutes to get rid of open pores.
Other medicinal Uses and Benefits of Halela or Harar
Treats Alzheimer’s and boosts cognitive capacity
Haritaki is also used for treating Alzheimer’s disease. It is anti-inflammatory due chebulic and gallic acid. It has antioxidants and phenolic compounds that lower oxidative stress, which is the common cause of getting Alzheimer’s.
It also helps to treat Parkinson’s disease and Dementia. It improves memory, reasoning and cognitive functioning. Its extracts act as a wonderful brain tonic and provide relief to the brain.
Improves Gut Health
Haritaki aids in the digestion and absorption of nutrients by the body. It treats various disorders such as esophagitis, heartburn, diarrhoea, flatulence, peptic ulcer, gastroesophageal reflux disease, indigestion, constipation, flatulence and stomach pain, bloating, acidity etc.
Keeps liver healthy
Harade or Hirada as it is known in Western India keeps the liver healthy. This is because it contains tannins, flavonoids, sterols, resins, fructose, and amino acids. If the liver is not functioning properly, then the level of serum urea also decreases. Kadukkai or Harad helps to attain the normal serum urea level.
Keeps joints strong and flexible
Alelakai or Halela has anti-arthritic properties that make it effective for treating arthritis, joint pain, especially in the knees, shoulder, back pain and body aches.
Can be used as a supplementary cancer-treating drug
Harde Whole or Inknut has been found effective for fighting against cancerous cells. Medical Research has found it efficient for reducing breast cancer tumours, osteosarcoma cells, prostate cancer and non-tumorigenic prostate cancer.
It has been established that Harad extract significantly reduced cancer cells by preventing and slowing the process of cell multiplication and also caused apoptosis or cell death. Gallic acid present in Haritaki prevents the spread of oesophagal cancer.
Prevents cardiovascular diseases
Due to the presence of Saponins, phytosterols, chebulinic acid and corilagin, Haritaki lowers cholesterol and strengthens the heart muscles. It also prevents the build-up of lipids and lowers the chances of getting atherosclerosis, heart attacks and blockages.
Protects teeth against decay
Haritaki mouthwash or its extract is beneficial for preventing dental caries and treating mouth ulcers. It protects the teeth from the attack of salivary Streptococcus, which is a bacteria majorly responsible for tooth decay and cavities. Tannins give Haritaki its anti-microbial properties.
As Haritaki has antibacterial properties, it is used for washing, dressing external wounds. It prompts faster wound healing and gives relief from pain.
Natural mosquito repellent
Instead of using synthetic creams and repellents, you can use Haritaki that has larvicidal qualities which make it a natural mosquito repellent. Its extracts are quite effective against Anopheles stephensi, Aedes aegypti and Culex quinquefasciatus types of mosquitoes.
Promotes Hair Growth
Haritaki powder mixed with henna or amla can be applied regularly to get beautiful, shiny and long hair. Haritaki oil is very effective as it gets rid of dandruff, dry and itchy scalp, lice infection, scalp infections, prevents hair fall and also premature greying of hair.
Consumption of Haritaki powder keeps the blood sugar level balanced and fights against other symptoms and issues related to diabetes such as frequent urination, thirst and weight loss.
Improves sexual health and boosts stamina
Harad is a natural aphrodisiac, relieves stress and increases libido among men and women. It maintains fertility, treats reproductive issues and increases virility and stamina among men.
How to use Harad
It is advised to consume it with jaggery during summers, with rock salt during monsoon, and with ginger during winters. Adults can safely consume 5- 10 grams while children should take only 1-2 grams of Haritaki before or after food every day.
Overconsumption of Haritaki might cause diarrhoea, stomatitis, dehydration, fever, malnutrition, jaw stiffness, fatigue and pitta disorders. Pregnant and lactating women should not take Harad. Secondly, it acts as a male contraceptive so men should not consume it daily.
Haritaki is a miraculous herb that has innumerable benefits. It should be consumed in small quantities to keep the mind and body healthy and free from all kinds of ailments. It is an Ayurvedic gift to the world.