Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) is a tree native to southern Asia and India. The dried fruit of the tree has a long history of use in Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India. Sometimes referred to as "chebulic myrobalan," haritaki is one of three dried fruits that make up the ayurvedic formula Triphala.

Available in powder or dietary supplement form, haritaki has a bitter taste. It is rich in vitamin C and substances found to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.

People use haritaki to promote healing from a number of conditions ranging from sore throat and allergies to constipation and indigestion. In Ayurveda, haritaki is said to support the "Vata" dosha.

Health Benefits
There's a lack of clinical trials supporting the claims that haritaki can improve your health. So far, most of the evidence for haritaki's health effects comes from preliminary, animal-based research and laboratory studies. However, preliminary research in humans suggests it may offer certain health benefits.

Cavity Prevention
A 2010 study published in Oral Health & Preventive Dentistry suggests a haritaki-based mouthwash may help prevent cavities.1

In the study, 30 people were given either distilled water or a mouthwash made with haritaki. Researchers analyzed saliva samples collected after rinsing and found the haritaki-based mouthwash was significantly more effective in reducing levels of bacteria linked to the development of cavities.

Pain Relief
Haritaki may help with pain management, suggests a small study published in the Journal of Anaesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology in 2016.2 Researchers gave study participants a single oral dose of Terminalia chebula or a placebo and found that Terminalia chebula increased pain threshold and pain tolerance compared to the placebo.

Further studies found haritaki extracts show promise for treating knee pain, a 2019 study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food found.3 The 90-day randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 105 people with knee osteoarthritis found the extract:

Relieved pain
Increased physical function
Improved quality of life

A 2010 study from the Journal of Advanced Pharmaceutical Technology & Research, for instance, determined that haritaki helped reduce total cholesterol in mice.4 The study's authors also found that haritaki helped reduce the animals' levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat known to increase heart disease risk when it occurs at elevated levels.5

Oxidative Stress
Haritaki may help increase the expression of antioxidants found to fight oxidative stress, according to a 2009 study from Cell Biochemistry and Function.6

 In tests on aging rats, the study's authors observed that treatment with haritaki helped boost concentrations of several antioxidants, including:

Superoxide dismutase
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

Blood Sugar
In a 2010 animal-based study from Phytotherapy Research, scientists ran a series of experiments involving rats with metabolic syndrome and discovered that haritaki may help treat the condition by lowering blood sugar levels.7

Again, the research is limited to animal studies and it is too soon to recommend its use for the prevention or treatment of diabetes or metabolic syndrome.