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Ayurvedic Medicine


Vibhitaka, 'intimidating'





Latin Names

English Name

Sanskrit Names

Hindi Name

Terminalia bellirica
Roxb. (Combretaceae)
Terminalia belerica

Belliric Myrobalan

Vibhitaki, Karshaphala, Kalidruma




History  |  Habitat  |  Morphology Description (Habit)  |  Principal Constituents  |

Indications  |   Product Range





This tree, called Vibhitaki in Sanskrit, meaning fearless, was avoided by the Hindus of Northern India, who would not sit in its shade as it is supposed to be inhabited by demons. As long as the influence of Arabian medicine prevailed, it was used medicinally in Europe, having been introduced by the Arabs from India.



It is a large deciduous tree. Leaves are alternate, broadly elliptic or elliptic-obovate, puberulous when young but glabrous on maturity and the nerves are prominent on both surfaces. Flowers are in axillary, spender spikes longer than the petioles but shorter than the leaves. Calyx lobes are pubescent outside. The fruits are green and inflated when young and yellowish and shrink (nearly seen as ribbed) when mature. The nut is stony.


Morphology Description (Habit)

A tall tree, with characteristic bark. The stems are straight, frequently buttressed when large; the leaves, broadly elliptic, clustered towards the ends of branches; the flowers are solitary, simple, axillary spikes; the fruits, are globular and obscurely 5-angled.


Principal Constituents

ß- sitosterol, gallic acid, ellagic acid, ethyl gallate, galloyl glucose, chebulagic acid.



The fruit possesses antibacterial properties. It is employed in dropsy, piles and diarrhea. While using herbal eye drops containing T.bellirica, encouraging results have been obtained in cases of myopia, corneal opacity, pterigium, immature cataract, chronic and acute infective conditions. The fruit possesses myocardial depressive activity.


Product Range



Part Used: fruit

Dravyguna: fruit.
·Rasa: kashaya
·Vipaka: guru
·Virya: ushna
·Karma: Vatakaphaharam, bhedhanam, rasayanam, promotes eyesight and hair growth; the fresh whole fruit is diuretic, anodyne, styptic, narcotic, digestive, anthelminthic, aperient, expectorant, antipyretic and antiemetic; the fresh seed pulp is considered to be madakari (intoxicating), astringent, lithotriptic, anthelminthic and expectorant; the dried whole fruit is constipating.
·Prabhava: rasayana for Kapha (Dash 1991, 9-10; Frawley and Lad 1986, 164; Nadkarni 1976, 1203-04; Varrier 1996, 258)

Indications: sore throat, Pharyngitis, laryngitis, cough, catarrh, bronchitis, gastric ulcers, hemorrhoids, chronic diarrhea, dysentery, parasites, cholelithiasis, ophthalmia, headache, alopecia and premature graying, edema, rheumatism (topical), wounds (topical) (Dash 1991, 9-10; Frawley and Lad 1986, 164; Kirtikar and Basu 1993, 1018-1019; Nadkarni 1976, 1203-04; Varrier 1996, 258)

Contraindications: Vatakopa (Frawley and Lad 1986, 164).

Toxicity: No data found.

·Churna: 250 – 500 mg t.i.d.
·Kashaya: 50 mL mL t.i.d.
·Tincture: crushed dried fruit, 1:4, 50%; 1 – 2 mL t.i.d.

Medical research:
AIDS: An extract of Terminalia bellerica showed significant inhibitory activity on human immunodeficiency virus-1 reverse transcriptase, with IC50 < or = 50 micrograms/ml (el-Mekkawy et al 1995). Four lignans (termilignan, thannilignan, hydroxy-3',4'-(methylenedioxy) flavan, anolignan B) possessed demonstrable anti-HIV-1 in vitro (Valsaraj et al 1997).

·Antimalarial: Four lignans (termilignan, thannilignan, hydroxy-3',4'-[methylenedioxy] flavan, and anolignan B) possessed demonstrable antimalarial activity in vitro (Valsaraj et al 1997).

·Antimutagenic: Two polyphenolic fractions isolated from T. bellerica were significantly effective against mutagenic effects in Salmonella typhimurium. Interaction of the polyphenols with S9 proteins may be the probable cause of the inhibitory effect (Padam et al 1996).

·Antifungal: Four lignans (termilignan, thannilignan, hydroxy-3',4'-(methylenedioxy) flavan, and
anolignan B) possessed demonstrable antifungal activity in vitro (Valsaraj et al 1997).

Comments: Vibhitaka is a stimulating astringent, and has a wide application in any condition of atony, prolapse, and relaxation of the mucosa. For coughs, sore throats, laryngitis and dyspepsia the churna may be taken with honey. In the treatment of dry, irritative coughs Nadkarni recommends a linctus of equal parts Vibhitaka, Saindhava (rock salt), Pippali (Piper longum), and Maricha (Piper nigrum) (1976, 1204).

Frawley and Lad mention that Vibhitaka is useful in the treatment of cholelithiasis and urinary lithiasis, liquefying and expelling the stones (1986, 164). It is useful in the treatment uterine and colonic prolapse, and hemorrhage (Varier 1996, 258). The mature, dried fruit of Vibhitaka is effective in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery and parasites, but in the latter case should be taken along with purgatives such as Senna (Cassia angustifolia) as Vibhitaka can be constipate (Varier 1996, 258). A decoction of the fruit may be taken internally and can be used externally as an eyewash in the treatment of ophthalmological disorders (Nadkarni 1976, 1204). Vaidya Mana Bhajracharya indicates that the fresh fruit pulp is used as a collyrium in the treatment of nontraumatic corneal ulcer (avranashukla) (1997, 85). Varier mentions that the oil from the seeds is trichogenous, and can be used topically for leucoderma and skin diseases (1996, 258). Vibhitaka is most commonly found as an ingredient in Triphala, usually mixed in equal parts with Haritaki and Amalaki.

Bhattacharya, Mana, Alan Tillotson and Robert Abel. 1997. Ayurvedic Ophthalmology: A Recension of the Shalakya Tantra of Videhadhipati Janaka. Unpublished manuscript.
Dash, Bhagwan. 1991. Materia Medica of Ayurveda. New Delhi: B. Jain Publishers.
Frawley, David and Vasant Lad. 1986. The Yoga Of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine. Santa Fe: Lotus Press.Kirtikar KR and BD Basu. 1993. Indian Medicinal Plants. 2nd ed. Vol. 1-4. 1935. Reprint. Delhi: Periodical Experts.
Nadkarni, Dr. K.M. 1976. The Indian Materia Medica, with Ayurvedic, Unani and Home Remedies. Revised and enlarged by A.K. Nadkarni. 1954. Reprint. Bombay: Bombay Popular Prakashan PVP.
Padam, S.K. et al. 1996. Antimutagenic effects of polyphenols isolated from Terminalia bellerica myroblan in Salmonella typhimurium Indian J Exp Biol. Feb;34(2):98-102.
Valsaraj, R. et al. 1997. New anti-
HIV-1, antimalarial, and antifungal compounds from Terminalia bellerica. J Nat Prod. Jul;60(7):739-42
Varrier, P.S. 1996. Indian Medicinal Plants: A Compendium of 500 species. Edited by PK Warrier, Vata / Pitta / Kapha Nambiar and C Ramankutty. vol 5. Hyderabad: Orient Longman.

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