Herbs are like people in that they have unique personalities that can be understood through dravyaguna.
Dravyaguna is the system of Ayurvedic pharmacology that was developed thousands of years ago before chromatography and mass spectrometry. It relies on qualities deciphered through taste.
This is the herb monograph for Haritaki.
Haritaki: The Third Eye Doctor
Character: The Sickness Surgeon
Traditionally Haritaki is usually referred to as the remover of disease owing to its potent abilities to help the body heal.
“Hare” is one of the names of Lord Shiva. One of Shiva’s many forms is that of the destroyer.
In deep states of awareness Shiva’s third eye opens and he is able to recognize what is no longer serving the individual. Lord Shiva skillfully cuts away the cords that bind us to bad habits and tendencies. Haritaki is a surgeon in a similar way, ridding our body of disease.
Haritaki is best known for its effect on the digestive and elimination systems.
It contains medicinal compounds of a class called anthraquinones. The most well known of these is sennoside, which can regulate elimination by either resolving constipation or diarrhea depending on the dosage used. This is partly because the sennosides clear toxins and reduce inflammation from the mucus membranes of the small intestine.
Like a surgeon Haritaki goes strait to the root. It’s predominantly bitter and astringent taste is indicative of a poor bedside manner, but it gets the job done. It’s qualities are as follows:
Guna: heavy and dry
Rasa: all except salty
Prabhava: Has been shown to stalls telomere damage
Main Action: Nutritive tonic, rejuvenative, laxative, nervine, expectorant, worm remover.
Action on Doshas:Pacifies all three doshas.
Action on Dhatus: Strengthens all tissues
Like a surgeon Haritaki works on a lot of different areas of the body in order to remove sickness. Unlike a surgeon it is the astringency of Haritaki that can help to reduce inflammation and to strengthen the cell membranes.
It is especially useful in helping to strengthen teeth; nourish bones; and increase the growth of hair and nails. It improves eyesight; stops bleeding gums; and relieves inflammation of the colon (Yoga of Herbs, 158).
1. Inflammatory conditions of the heart, liver, kidney, eyes
3. All urinary diseases
4. Old age
Precautions: In excess can produce ama. Do not use in case of acute diarrhea.
Home Remedy: Haritaki Eye Wash
To make an eye wash decoction boil 1 teaspoon of Haritaki powder in 8 ounces of water for 10 minutes. Let the mixture cool for another 10 minutes then strain out the Haritaki powder.
Pour it through a coffee filter and allow the liquid to drain into a clean jar or vessel. All of the liquid may not drain into the vessel, but that is okay. You don’t want to get any of the powder in the eye.
Let the liquid cool and then place it in an eye cup. Place the eye cup over one of the eyes and get a tight seal and then tilt the head back so the liquid immerses the eye. Repeat with the same liquid 2-4 times. You can wash the eyes 3-5 times a day.
You can use this same decoction as a mouth wash.
This article originally appeared on Rhythm of Healing