Herb of the Season: Bibhitaki (Terminalia beleric) – Cleansing and Nourishing Kapha Dosha

The beleric myrobalan fruit, Terminalia belerica, is a mysterious herb of many paradoxes, as well as being one of the most beloved herbs of Ayurveda’s plant pharmacopeia.

One third of the classic formulation Triphala, and renowned as cleanser and nourisher of kapha dosha, it is used in all types of kapha imbalances and is especially helpful in supporting the organs and tissues where kapha tends to accumulate. These include the lungs, liver and urinary tract as well as the sinuses, ears, eyes and throat. In Western terms its pharmacological actions includes being an astringent, lung tonic, urinary systemic tonic, rejuvenative, expectorant, laxative, anthelmintic, antiseptic, lithotriptic; purgative (in some individuals in high doses); anti-inflammatory, antiviral; anticholesterol and immunomodulator.

It is extremely astringent (and to a lesser degree, sweet) in taste and has the qualities of being dry and light, all of which help to balance the inherent damp and heavy qualities of kapha. Bibhitaki also helps maintain balanced body fluid levels while toning and cleansing the colon. Oddly enough, its virya is hot and its vipaka is sweet, and equally oddly, it is both a laxative and an astringent, and in lower doses is used to treat diarrhea (laxative properties are apparent in higher doses). Though energetically ‘hot,’ it does not aggravate pitta. It is useful in treating disorders relating to the manipura chakra (solar plexus) relating to function of abdominal nervous system.

Bibhitaki enters into rasa, mamsa and ashti dhatus and into the anavaha, pranavaha, ambhuvaha, majjavaha, mutravaha and purishavaha srotas, and exhibits a trophism for the head and throat area, as well as the brain.

Indications include renal or bladder calculi, respiratory disorders, pharyngitis and laryngitis, bronchitis, catarrh, chronic diarrhea and dysentery, Crohn’s Disease, parasitic infestation, arthritis and rheumatism, eye disorders, mental disorders and vata-mediated insomnia. It is contraindicationed for use in very high vata cases.

Daily dosage for a 155-lbs. male runs from 250 mg. to 3 g. daily, in infusion, decoction, churna or paste.

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