Terminalia chebula Retz.

Last updated: 19 Sept 2016

Scientific Name

Terminalia chebula Retz.  


Buceras chebula (Retz.) Lyons, Myrobalanus chebula (Retz.) Gaertn., Myrobalanus gangetica (Roxb.) Kostel., Terminalia acuta Walp., Terminalia gangetica Roxb., Terminalia parviflora Thwaites, Terminalia reticulata Roth, Terminalia zeylanica Van Heurck & Müll. Arg. [1]

Vernacular Name

Malaysia Manjarawai, menjelawai, kadelai, kadukai, manjakani, majakeling, kedekai, majalawi, [2] manja patut, manja lawai, manja puteri [3]
English Myrobalan, chebulic myrobalan, [2] black myrobalan, chebulic myrabolan, gallnut, Indian gall-nut, ink nut, ink nut tree, medicinal Terminalia, yellow myrobalan [3]
China He lip, [2] ho tzu, he zi, ho li le [3]
India Amagola, [2] abhaya, alalai, amruta, bal-har, chetaki, devi, divya, girija, halela, hana, jivanika, kadukai, nandini, pachani, putana, rala, saluka, shaka, shiva, triphala, uttar, vanatikta, zangihar, zard halela [3]
Thailand Maa-nae, maak-nae, samo thai [3]
Laos Smz moox khook [3]
Cambodia Sa mao tchet, sramaa [3]
Vietnam Ca lich, chieu lieu xanh [3].

Geographical Distributions

Terminalia chebula is a deciduous tree of India extends its growth into Myanmar. It can be grown in Java and some parts of Peninsular Malaysia. [2]

Botanical Description

T. chebula is a member of Combretaceae family. [4] It is a deciduous tree reaching a height of 25 m or more, with a diameter of 60-80 cm. [4][5][6]

The bark is dark brown, usually longitudinally cracked with woody scales and the branchlets are rusty-villous or glabrescent. [4][5]

The leaves are alternate or opposite, thin-coriaceous, ovate or elliptic-obovate, 7—12 cm x 4—6.5 cm, rounded at base, obtuse to subacute at apex, entire, pubescent beneath; petiole up to 2 cm long, provided with 2 glands at the base of the leaf blade. [4][5][6]

The inflorescences are axillary or terminal, simple spikes, 5-10 cm, numerous flowered, sometimes grouped at branchlet apex and forming a panicle; axis glabrous or sparsely hairy, with denser hairs near base of flowers. [4][5][6]

The flowers are slightly fragrant and bisexual. Calyx tube is distally cupular, 2.5-3.5 mm, abaxially glabrous, adaxially tawny tomentose; lobes 5, apex mucronate to aristate. Stamens are 10, exserted, 3-4 mm. [4][5][6]

The fruit is an obovoid or oblong—ellipsoid drupe, 2.5—5 cm long, faintly 5-angular, yellow to orange-brown when ripe, glabrous. [4][5][6]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

T. chebula has been reported to contain chebulic acid, chebulinic acid, D-fructose, D-glucose, gallic acid, punicalagin, saccharose, shikimic acid, quinic acid, tannic acid, terchebulin and terflavin A. [7]

Plant Part Used

Fruit. [8]

Traditional Use

T. chebula was indicated as a useful treatment for general intestinal health and to treat anorexia, flatulence, hemorrhoids, jaundice and other liver disorders, spleen disorders, ulcer, gastritis, diabetes, diarrhea, dysentery, vomiting, colic and intestinal worms. It can promote respiratory health and to treat asthma, cough, and pharyngalgia. [8][9][10] T. chebula can be used as a treatment for fever, cardiac dysfunction, hiccups and neuropathy. [7]

Its high tannin content is used as an astringent for both skin and mouth. It can be applied topically as an effective wound dressing for various lacerations, leprosy, eye disease and general skin disease. For oral disorders, T. chebula is an effective mouthwash to assist in mending gingivitis, stomatitis, and spongy or ulcerated gums. The closer to ripe the fruit is, the more astringent its action. [7][8]

Young fruits can be used as a mild purgative. [8]

Preclinical Data


Antioxidant activity

T. chebula is an effective free radical scavenger and a ferric-reducing antioxidant [11][12]. Its free radical scavenging ability is comparable to ascorbate and gallic acid [13]. The role of T. chebula as an antioxidant directly relates to its hepatoprotective activity [14]. T. chebula protected rats against oxidative toxicity in the liver [12]. Pretreatment with T. chebula resulted in a protective effect on the liver from tBHP-induced liver toxicity in rats. It reduced oxidative stress and the occurrence of liver lesions and hepatocyte swelling while it repaired necrosis in the liver [15]. Additionally, T. chebula had a chemoprotective effect on the toxicity of nickel, a known pollutant and nephrotoxic, as it reduced nickel-induced oxidative damage [16]. The antioxidant property of T. chebula also exhibits an inhibitory effect on cellular aging. It was shown that T. chebula increased the lifespan of HEK-N/F cells by 40% [17].

Radioprotective activity

The antioxidant properties of T. chebula exhibited radioprotective effect [18][19]. Pretreatment of T. chebula reduced radiation damage. The extract of T. chebula also protected human lymphocytes from damage induced by gamma radiation [13].

Cytotoxic activity

T. chebula exhibited anticancer effect. It was shown that T. chebula reduced the occurrence of renal cell tumor in ferric nitrilotracetic acid-induced tumorigenises in rats [16]. It also induced cytotoxicity in several malignant cell lines including human prostate, breast and bone cell lines. T. chebula decreased cell viability and cell proliferation as well [20].

Hypoglycemic activity

T. chebula exhibited a hypoglycemic effect in an in vitro study. The aqueous extract of T. chebula fruits increased insulin release in streptozotocin-induced mild diabetic rats compared to tolbutamide. Oral administration of T. chebula aqueous extract of once daily for two months at effective dose of 200 mg/kg body weight reduced the elevated blood glucose by 43.2% (p<0.01) and significantly reduced the increase in glycosylated hemoglobin (HbA1c) (p<0.01). [11][21]

Gastric emptying activity

T. chebula increased gastric emptying time as well as emptying volume. All rats were given a test meal of methyl cellulose (1.5%) mixed with phenol red (50 mg/100 ml) orally and gastric emptying was measured 20 mins later. Gastric emptying of normal rats (Group I) was found to be 51.6 +/- 7.79%. Metoclopramide significantly increased the gastric emptying (76.33 +/- 12.37%; p < 0.01) and atropine inhibited the motility (% gastric emptying being 7.26 +/- 19.76%; p < 0.01). T. chebula was found to increase the percent gastric emptying (86.57 +/- 6.65%; p < 0.01). [18][22] 

Cardioprotective activity

T. chebula showedcardioprotectiveeffect on isoproterenol-induced myocardial injury in rats. It inhibited the lipid peroxide formation in the heart. [23]

Antibacterial activity

T. chebula demonstrated antibacterial activity against numerous intestinal bacteria [24]. Ithas been shown to be effective in treating open wounds[25][26]. It can be used as mouthwash for caries and other dental disorders [27][28].

Antianaphylactic activity

The water soluble fraction of T. chebula exhibited systemic and local antianaphylactic action in rats. Anaphylactic shock ortality rate and serum histamine levels decreased in a dose dependent manner. Passive cutaneous anaphylaxis was inhibited by 63.5+/-7.8% by oral administration of water soluble fraction of T. chebula at 1.0 g/kg. [29]

Clinical Data

No documentation.


No documentation.

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Ver1.1. Terminalia chebula Retz.[homepage on the Internet]. c2013 [updated 2012 Mar 23; cited 2016 Sept 19] Available from: http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/kew-2431324.
  2. Herbal Medicine Research Centre, Institute for Medical Research. Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used in Malaysia. Volume 2. Kuala Lumpur: HMRC IMR, 2002; p. 382.
  3. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms and etymology. Volume V R-Z. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 530-531.
  4. Fundter JM, de Graaf NR, Hildebrand JW. Terminalia chebula Retz. In: Lemmens RHMJ, Wulijarni-Soetjipto N, editors. Plant resources of South-East Asia No. 3: Dye and tannin-producing plants. Wageningen, Netherlands: Pudoc, 1991; p. 122-125.
  5. Flora of China. Terminalia chebula Retzius. [homepage on the Internet]. No date [cited 2016 Sept 19]. Available from: http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200014747.
  6. Philippine Medicinal Plants. Komintana (Terminalia chebula (Gaertn.) Retz). [homepage on the Internet]. No date [updated 2016 Jan; cited 2016 Sept 19]. Available from: http://www.stuartxchange.com/Komintana.html.
  7. Thomson Healthcare. PDR for herbal medicines. Montvale, New Jersey: Thomson Healthcare Inc., 2007; p. 861.
  8. Kapoor LD. CRC handbook of Ayurvedic medicinal plants. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2001; p. 322.
  9. Rege NN, Thatte UM, Dahanukar SA. Adaptogenic properties of six rasayana herbs used in Ayurvedic medicine. Phytother Res. 1999;13(4):275-291.
  10. Rao NK, Nammi S. Antidiabetic and renoprotective effects of the chloroform extract of Terminalia chebula Retz. seeds in streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2006;6:17.
  11. Cheng HY, Lin TC, Yu KH, Yang CM, Lin CC. Antioxidant and free radical scavenging activities of Terminalia chebula. Biol Pharm Bull. 2003;26(9):1331-1335.
  12. Lee HS, Jung SH, Yun BS, Lee KW. Isolation of chebulic acid from Terminalia chebula Retz. and its antioxidant effect in isolated rat hepatocytes. Arch Toxicol. 2007;81(3):211-218.
  13. Gandhi NM, Nair CK. Radiation protection by Terminalia chebula: Some mechanistic aspects. Mol Cell Biochem. 2005;277(1-2):43-48.
  14. Tasduq SA, Singh K, Satti NK, Gupta DK, Suri KA, Johri RK. Terminalia chebula (fruit) prevents liver toxicity caused by sub-chronic administration of rifampicin, isoniazid and pyrazinamide in combination. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2006;25(3):111-118.
  15. Lee HS, Won NH, Kim KH, Lee H, Jun W, Lee KW. Antioxidant effects of aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula in vivo and in vitro. Biol Pharm Bull. 2005;28(9):1639-1644.
  16. Prasad L, Husain Khan T, Jahangir T, Sultana S. Chemomodulatory effects of Terminalia chebula against nickel chloride induced oxidative stress and tumor promotion response in male Wistar rats. Pharmazie. 2007;62(10):790-797.
  17. Na M, Bae K, Kang SS, et al. Cytoprotective effect on oxidative stress and inhibitory effect on cellular aging of Terminalia chebula fruit. Phytother Res. 2004;18(9):737-741.
  18. Chattopadhyay RR, Bhattacharyya SK. Terminalia chebula: An update. Phcog Rev. 2007:1(1);151-156
  19. Naik GH, Priyadarsini KI, Naik DB, Gangabhagirathi R, Mohan H. Studies on the aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as a potent antioxidant and a probable radioprotector. Phytomedicine. 2004;11(6):530-538.
  20. Saleem A, Husheem M, Härkönen P, Pihlaja K. Inhibition of cancer cell growth by crude extract and the phenolics of Terminalia chebula retz. fruit. J Ethnopharmacol. 2002;81(3):327-336.
  21. Murali YK, Anand P, Tandon V, Singh R, Chandra R, Murthy PS. Long-term effects of Terminalia chebula Retz. on hyperglycemia and associated hyperlipidemia, tissue glycogen content and in vitro release of insulin in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats. Exp Clin Endocrinol Diabetes. 2007;115(10):641-646.
  22. Tamhane MD, Thorat SP, Rege NN, Dahanukar SA. Effect of oral administration of Terminalia chebula on gastric emptying: An experimental study. J Postgrad Med. 1997;43(1):12-13.
  23. Suchalatha S, Shyamala Devi CS. Protective effect of Terminalia chebula against experimental myocardial injury induced by isoproterenol. Indian J Exp Biol. 2004;42(2):174-178.
  24. Kim HG, Cho JH, Jeong EY, Lim JH, Lee SH, Lee HS. Growth-inhibiting activity of active component isolated from Terminalia chebula fruits against intestinal bacteria. J Food Prot. 2006;69(9):2205-2209.
  25. Malekzadeh F, Ehsanifar H, Shahamat M, Levin M, Colwell RR. Antibacterial activity of black myrobalan (Terminalia chebula Retz) against Helicobacter pylori. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2001;18(1):85-88.
  26. Suguna L, Singh S, Sivakumar P, Sampath P, Chandrakasan G. Influence of Terminalia chebula on dermal wound healing in rats. Phytother Res. 2002;16(3):227-231.
  27. Jagtap AG, Karkera SG. Potential of the aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as an anticaries agent. J Ethnopharmacol. 1999;68(1-3):299-306.
  28. Carounanidy U, Satyanarayanan R, Velmurugan A. Use of an aqueous extract of Terminalia chebula as an anticaries agent: A clinical study. Indian J Dent Res. 2007;18(4):152-156.
  29. Shin TY, Jeong HJ, Kim DK, et al. Inhibitory action of water soluble fraction of Terminalia chebula on systemic and local anaphylaxis. J Ethnopharmacol. 2001;74(2):133-140.