Baheda, also known as Terminalia bellirica, is a remarkable tree from the family Combretaceae. Renowned as Bibhitaki, Vibhitaki, or Baheda in India, this ancient herb holds a special place in Ayurvedic medicine. Often used as a “health-harmonizer” alongside Amla and Haritaki in Triphala, Baheda has been utilised for centuries to address various health concerns (1).
Baheda’s potency lies in its impressive array of phytoconstituents, including glycosides, flavonoids, tannins, phenolic compounds, amino acids, and saponins. These bioactive compounds underpin its diverse pharmacological activities, such as anti-diabetic, antimicrobial, anticancer, hepatoprotective, and antidiarrheal effects (1).
In this article, find out more about Baheda, its benefits and uses and incorporate this herb into your daily life.
Ayurvedic Properties of Baheda
Rasa (Taste) and Guna (Qualities) (1)
Baheda is characterised by its Kashaya (astringent) taste, making it unique in its flavour profile. It possesses Rooksha (dry) and Laghu (light to digest) qualities, contributing to its overall effects on the body.
Vipaka (Taste Conversion) and Veerya (Potency) (1)
After digestion, Baheda undergoes Madhura (sweet) taste conversion. It also exhibits Ushna (hot) potency, which influences its impact on the body.
Effect on Tridosha (1)
In Ayurveda, Baheda is believed to balance Kapha and Pitta Doshas, helping to maintain harmony and well-being in the body.
The Many Benefits of Baheda
1. Antispasmodic and Bronchodilatory Activity (1)
Studies have revealed that the Baheda fruit possesses antispasmodic and bronchodilatory properties. It acts as a combination of anticholinergic and calcium antagonist effects, leading to the relaxation of spontaneous contractions in the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems.
Additionally, it provides protection against diarrhoea and bronchoconstriction in rodents, making it a potential remedy for hyperactive gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders.
2. Antifungal Activity (1)
The ethanolic extract of Baheda fruit has demonstrated significant antifungal activity against Cryptococcus neoformans, with clinical isolates being more susceptible than environmental ones.
This finding suggests its potential in inhibiting drug-resistant fungal strains, thus offering a possible treatment option for fungal infections.
3. Antimicrobial Activity (1)
Baheda has shown promising antimicrobial activity against respiratory pathogens, specifically Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella pneumonia. It inhibits coagulase activity in S. aureus and causes biochemical alterations in both strains, indicating its potential in combating diseases caused by pathogens.
4. Antioxidant Activity (1)
Baheda fruit’s acetone extract has been found to possess free radical scavenging activity and antioxidant potential. The polyphenolic-rich fractions in the ethyl acetate fraction exhibit effectiveness in various antioxidant assays, making Baheda a valuable natural antioxidant.
5. Anti-ulcer Activity (1)
Research has shown that the ethanolic extract of the Baheda fruit exhibits anti-ulcer activity. It effectively inhibits gastric lesions induced by pylorus ligation and ethanol along with reducing free acidity and ulcer index, suggesting its potential in managing ulcers.
6. Anti-Alzheimer’s Activity (1)
Baheda has been studied for its acetylcholinesterase inhibitory properties, indicating potential anti-Alzheimer’s activity. Its ability to inhibit enzyme activity suggests that it could be used for the symptomatic treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.
7. Antihypertensive Activity (1)
Studies have shown that Baheda has a blood-pressure-lowering effect through its Ca++ antagonist properties. It induces a dose-dependent fall in arterial blood pressure and relaxes contractions in the arteries, making it a potential treatment option for hypertension.
8. Immunomodulatory Effect (1)
The methanolic extract of Baheda fruit has exhibited immunomodulatory effects, stimulating macrophage phagocytosis and activating lymphocyte proliferation. This effect on the immune system indicates its potential in the treatment of immune-mediated diseases in humans.
9. Antifertility Activity (1)
Research has explored the antifertility potential of Baheda bark extracts. Administration of these extracts resulted in a decrease in the weight of accessory reproductive ducts, an increase in total cholesterol content, and a significant decrease in epididymal sperm count in adult male rats. This indicates the possible role of Baheda in male contraception.
10. Anti-Cancer Activity (1)
Terminalia bellerica leaves have been studied for their anti-cancer activity. Among different extracts, petroleum ether extract exhibited the most potent anti-cancer effects against various cancer cell lines, including ovarian carcinoma, liver carcinoma, breast carcinoma, HeLa contaminant, cervical carcinoma, CNS-human glioblastoma, non-small lung cancer, colon adenocarcinoma, fibrosarcoma, leukaemia, and melanoma. This finding suggests the possibility of isolating compounds responsible for these activities for further research.
11. Anti-diabetic Activity (1)
Gallic acid, isolated from the fruit rind of Terminalia bellirica, has shown anti-diabetic properties. Administered to diabetic rats, gallic acid led to a dose-dependent reduction in plasma glucose levels and regeneration of β-islet cells. Furthermore, it improved several metabolic parameters, indicating its potential as an anti-diabetic agent.
12. Hepatoprotective Activity (1)
The ethyl acetate extract of T. bellirica aerial parts has been investigated for its hepatoprotective activity. In mice intoxicated with carbon tetrachloride, this extract ameliorated hepatic necrosis and reduced oxidative stress biomarkers. It also showed a suppressive effect on inflammatory response and hepatic fibrosis, indicating its hepatoprotective potential.
Traditional Uses of Baheda
Bhedanam – Laxative Action (1)
Baheda is known for its Bhedanam property, which eases motion and provides a mild laxative action, aiding in promoting healthy bowel movements.
Kasanashanam – Relief from Cough and Cold (1)
The herb is effective in providing relief from cough and cold, making it a beneficial remedy for respiratory ailments.
Netrahitam – Good for Eyes (1)
Baheda is considered beneficial for the eyes, supporting visual health and maintaining eye function.
Keshya – Promotes Hair Growth and Hair Quality (1)
For hair care, Baheda is esteemed as Keshya, as it improves hair quality and promotes hair growth, making it a valuable ingredient in hair care formulations.
Kruminashanana – Relief from Worm Infestation (1)
The herb has been used traditionally to provide relief from worm infestation, promoting a healthy digestive system.
Vaisvaryanashana – Relieves Hoarseness of Voice (1)
Baheda is known to alleviate hoarseness of the voice, making it beneficial for maintaining vocal health.
Detoxification Properties (1)
Baheda is renowned for its detoxifying effects on the blood, lymph, muscles, and fatty tissues in the body.
More Specific Uses (1)
The seed kernel of Baheda is particularly useful in relieving Trut (excessive thirst) and Chardi (vomiting).
Dosage of Baheda
Baheda is usually taken with Amla and Haritaki in a 1:1:1 ratio, commonly known as Triphala. However, if you wish to take Baheda separately, you must consult an Ayurvedic doctor, as the dosage and the manner to use Baheda will depend on several factors, including your Prakriti, medical condition and Dosha imbalance. (1).
Side Effects and Contradictions of Baheda (1)
While Baheda offers numerous health benefits, it is essential to be aware of its contraindications to ensure safe usage.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Baheda should be avoided during pregnancy and breastfeeding, as it is considered unsafe for both expecting mothers and lactating women.
Due to its blood sugar-lowering activity, Baheda may interact with diabetes medications. Diabetic patients taking medications should be cautious and may need to adjust their dosage under medical supervision.
Blood Sugar Control Surgery
For individuals scheduled for surgery, it is crucial to discontinue Baheda intake at least two weeks before the procedure. Its blood sugar-lowering activity could interfere with blood sugar control during surgery.
Baheda is a versatile herb with a rich history in Ayurvedic medicine. Its impressive phytoconstituents contribute to a wide range of health benefits, from anti-diabetic and antimicrobial effects to anti-cancer and hepatoprotective properties.
However, it is essential to adhere to recommended dosages and consider potential contraindications. By incorporating Baheda into your daily lives responsibly, you can harness its healing powers and unlock its potential to enhance overall well-being.
Who should not take Baheda?
Baheda should not be taken by pregnant women, breastfeeding women, or people with diabetes who are taking medication. It is also important to avoid Baheda if you are scheduled for blood sugar control surgery.
How can I take Baheda?
Baheda can be taken in a variety of ways, including capsules or powder. It is most popularly consumed as a constituent of Triphala.
Does Baheda promote hair growth?
Yes, Baheda is esteemed as Keshya, as it improves hair quality and promotes hair growth, making it valuable in hair care formulations.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.