Botanical name – Terminalia chebula Retz.
Family – Combretaceae
Common names –
English – Chebulic myrobalan
Hindi – Harad
Sanskrit – Haritaki
Parts used – Fruits
Terminalia chebula is found throughout South and Southeast Asia including India, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand. In China, it is native in W Yunnan and cultivated in Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi (Nanning), and Taiwan (Nantou) In India, it is found in the Sub Himalayan region from Ravi eastwards to West Bengal and Assam, ascending up to the altitude of 1,500 m (4,900 ft) in the Himalayas. This tree is wild in forests of Northern India, central provinces and Bengal, common in Madras, Mysore and in the southern part of the Bombay presidency Its habitat includes dry slopes up to 900 m (3,000 ft) in elevation.
T. chebula contains 32% of tannin, they contain 14 components of hydrolysable tannins (Gallic acid, Chebulic acid, Punicalagin, Chebulanin, Corilagin, Neochebulinic, Ellagic acid, Chebulegic acid, Chebulinic acid , 1,2,3,4,6-penta-Ogalloyl-ß-D-glucose, 1,6,-di-O-galloyl-D-glucose, Casuarinin, 3,4,6-tri-O-galloyl-D-glucose and Terchebulin).
Flavonol glycosides, Triterpenoids, Coumarin conjugated with Gallic acid called Chebulin, as well as phenolic compounds were also isolated. It also consists of nutrients such as vitamin C, Protein, Amino Acids and Minerals Besides, Fructose, Amino Acids, Succinic Acid, Betasitosterol, Resin and purgative principle of Anthraquinone are also present. Twelve fatty acids were isolated from T. chebula of which Palmitic acid, Linoleic Acid and Oleic acid are main constituents. Triterpenoid glycosides such as Chebulosides I and II, Arjunin, Arjunglucoside, 2α-hydroxyursolic acid and 2α-hydroxymicromiric acid also have been reported. The leaves were found to contain polyphenols such as Punicalin, Punicalagin, Terflavins B, C, and D. The plant is found to contain Phloroglucimol and Pyrogallol, along with phenolic acids such as Ferulic, p-Coumaric, Caffeic and Vanillic acids. Oil extracted from kernels yielded Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic, Behenic and Arachidic acids.
T. chebulaexhibited antibacterial activity against a number of both Gram-positive and Gram-negative human pathogenic bacteria. Ethanedioic acid and Ellagic acid isolated from Butanol fraction of T. chebulafruit extract had strong antibacterial activity against intestinal bacteria, Clostridium perfingens and Escherichia coli. It is effective in inhibiting the urease activity of Helicobactor pyroli, an ubiquitous bacterium implicated in the development of gastritis, ulcers and stomach cancer.
Ripe seeds of T. chebula also exhibited strong antibacterial activity against S. aureus. The aqueous extract of T. chebula strongly inhibited the growth of Streptococcus mutans, salivary bacteria. It has also growth inhibitory action against Salmonella typhi, Klebsiella, Shigella and intestinal bacteria. Ethanol extract of T. chebula fruit showed strong antibacterial activity against multidrug-resistant uropathogenic Escherichia coli and phenolics were found to be responsible for this antibacterial activity.
Effect on Digestive System
Although its traditional use as laxative is well established, T. chebula fruit has been shown to increase gastric emptying. This action appeared to be balanced with a protective effect on the gastrointestinal mucosa, with the improvement in the secretory status of Brunner’s gland involved in the protection against duodenal ulcer. Harad improves digestion by forming a healthy intestinal environment and by increasing the absorption of nutrients from the food. This is due to its Deepan (appetizer) and Pachan (digestive) properties. Moreover, Harad also has Rechana (laxative) property that can aid in constipation.
The Carminative nature of the fruit helps in breaking down the food particles in the stomach and intestine, enhances the secretion of the digestive juices and thereby increases the absorption of essential nutrients through intestines. It also helps to eliminate abdominal gas and in turn reduces abdominal distension, bloating and gaseous cramps.
The leaves, bark and fruit of T. chebula possessed high antioxidant activity and Phenolics were found to be responsible for this activity. Aqueous extract of T. chebula inhibited xanthine/xanthine oxidase activity. T. chebula in a polyherbal formulation inhibited free radical induced hemolysis and also significantly inhibited nitric oxide release from lipopolysaccharide-stimulated murine macrophages. T. chebula has a high content of phenolic constituents which showed strong antioxidant and anti-aging properties. The strong antioxidant action of the aqueous extract plays a major role in treating age-related diseases.