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For the last 5000 years, the Ayurvedic system of medicine has been using a number of herbs for their medicinal and health-building properties. the Ayurvedic and folk medicine systems rely on a more holistic approach. In this article, we will highlight the benefits and uses of a valuable herb named Triphala. If you take herbal or ayurvedic medicine regularly, Triphala may not have escaped your notice. Mentions of the famous polyherbal (made of more than one herb) formulations are found in one of the ancient Ayurvedic texts named “Sharangdhar Samhita” and the health benefits of Triphala, in particular, can be found in “Charaka Samhita”. Read further to find out everything about the herb Triphala.

What is Triphala?

Triphala is a renowned Ayurvedic formulation which is made from three fruits namely amla (Emblica Officinalis), Bibhitaki or Baheda (Terminalia bellirica) and haritaki or harad (Terminalia chebula). In fact, the name Triphala literally translates to “three fruits” (tri = three and phala= fruit). In  Ayurveda, Triphala is sought mainly for its “rasayana” properties which means this formulation is very effective in maintaining the health and vitality of the body and preventing the occurrence of diseases.

Triphala is the combination of the following herbs.

  • Amla (Emblica Officinalis):
    One of the most common fruits available all over the country, it is also commonly known as Indian gooseberry. The amla fruit is rich in fibre, antioxidants, minerals and its one of the richest source of Vitamin C in the world. It is generally used for maintaining good gut health, for avoiding constipation, for fighting infections and as an anti ageing fruit.
     
  • Baheda (Terminalia bellirica):
    This plant is found throughout the Indian subcontinent and has found its uses in the medicinal system and Ayurveda in the form of an antipyretic, antioxidant, hepatoprotective(good for liver), in the treatment of respiratory problems and as an anti-diabetic. According to Ayurveda, baheda fruit is rich in a lot of biological compounds like glucoside, tannins, gallic acid, ethyl gallate etc. Together, these compounds are responsible for most of the health benefits of baheda.
     
  • Harad (Terminalia chebula):
    Harad is the most important herb known to Ayurveda. Its health benefits range from being an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-ageing to being an excellent wound healing agent. Its benefits in restoring and maintaining the normal functioning of the liver, stomach, heart, and bladder are well known in Ayurveda. In fact it is rightly called “King of medicine”.

Did you know?

In ayurveda, triphala is known to balance all the three doshas (Vata, Pitta and Kapha) of the body. Triphala is known to contain five of the Rasas or tastes explained by the ayurvedic medicine. It is sweet, sour, astringent, bitter and pungent. The only taste or rasa it does not possess is salty.

  1. Health benefits of triphala
  2. Side effects of triphala
  3. How to use triphala
  4. Triphala dosage

Triphala is first of all a rejuvenating herb in Ayurveda but its used in the treatment of a number of diseases. In fact, in Ayurveda, it is believed that Triphala takes care of your body as much as your own mother would take care of you. What is so great about this formulation? One might ask. So, let’s explore some of the health benefits of Triphala:

  • Weight loss: Consumption of Triphala assists in the process of weight loss as apparent by several clinical studies. As compared to controls, study subjects who were given Triphala lost more weight and even had a lesser waist and hip circumference.
  • Eyes: Triphala is an important component of Ayurvedic formulations used for the management of cataract and glaucoma. Clinical studies also confirm the anti-cataract and eyesight-improving benefit of this herb.
  • Hair: Triphala has protective benefits for your hair and is commonly used as a remedy to ward off early greying of hair. It also helps in reducing hair fall and provides your scalp with all the desired nutrition when applied topically.
  • Abdominal issues: Flatulence, constipation, bloating and irregular bowels form a majority of the abdominal issues. Studies have found that the inclusion of Triphala in the diet helps manage these common digestive complaints and thus helps to get rid of excess toxins in the body.
  • Periodontitis: The antimicrobial activities of Triphala warrants its use in the management of common oral problems like gum disorders and periodontitis. When used as a mouthwash along with chlorhexidine, it helped to reduce plaque build-up and improve oral health.  
  • Antimicrobial: Triphala has been used as an antimicrobial agent for the treatment of several infections and even clinical studies have supported this use. Triphala is evidenced to have an effect against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae.
  • Antioxidant: Triphala has been confirmed as an antioxidant food due to its rich vitamin C content. Thus, it will help to protect your body against harmful and damaging effects of free radicals.
  • Diabetes: Triphala has been evidenced to have an anti-diabetic effect by having a function on the hormone insulin. It works by reducing the accumulation and release of glucose in the bloodstream.
  1. Triphala for Weight Loss
  2. Triphala Powder for Eyes
  3. Triphala for hair
  4. Triphala for Constipation
  5. Triphala for Teeth
  6. Triphala as an antimicrobial
  7. Triphala as an antioxidant
  8. Triphala for diabetes
  9. Triphala as an anti-arthritic
  10. Triphala anticancer properties

Triphala for Weight Loss

Studies suggest that regular consumption of Triphala is excellent for losing weight; especially in obese people. In a recent human-based research, two group of obese people between the age of 16 to 60 years were selected to test the benefits of Triphala in weight loss. Only one of this group was given 5 gm Triphala twice a day, orally,  for a period of 12 weeks while the other group was given a placebo and it was found that the Triphala group showed a significant decrease in the body weight and in the circumference of waist and hips. Further, if we look at the regulatory effects of consumption of Triphala powder on the bowel movements, it is obvious that Triphala can help lose weight more easily. So, it can be safely said that Triphala is an effective weight loss remedy.

(Read more: Obesity causes)

Triphala Powder for Eyes

Ayurveda describes many beneficial effects of Triphala for eyes including its potential in reducing the risk of eye diseases like cataract and glaucoma. Clinical studies also claim the anticataract effect of Triphala. A treatment suggested by ayurvedic doctors, for improving the weak eyesight, has Triphala as its main constituent. It is also known to reduce.  An Ayurvedic remedy known as Triphala ghrita is considered one of the best eye medicines. However, eyes are one of the most sensitive parts of the body and it's best to ask an Ayurveda doctor for the best ways of using Triphala for your eyes.

Triphala for hair

Triphala is a rich source of antioxidants which helps reduce the hair damage caused by pollution. The amla content in Triphala is very beneficial in stopping the premature hair greying while the baheda in Triphala is known to be very helpful in reducing hair fall and strengthening the roots of hairs. Triphala is also known to increase the circulation of blood in the scalp thereby helping it absorb nutrients and minerals more effectively. Triphala oil or Triphala paste can be applied directly on the head to reap its nutritive and protective benefits on hairs.

Triphala for Constipation

A healthy and clean intestine is very important for the well being of the body. Accumulation of digestive waste doesn’t only choke the intestinal pathways but consistent and long-term constipation can lead to accumulation of toxins in the body. High level of these toxins in the body can also lead to problems like anxiety and stress. According to ayurvedic doctors Triphala, as a natural laxative, helps in regularising the bowel movements and in strengthening the intestinal muscles of the body. It is not heavy on the stomach and can be consumed for long periods of time without much side effects. A clinical study conducted in India claims that regular consumption of Triphala is very effective in reducing constipation, irregular bowels, flatulence and abdominal pain.

Triphala for Teeth

The antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects of Triphala make it an excellent agent for alleviating the symptoms of the common dental problems and promoting good dental health. A Study done in India suggests that Triphala and chlorhexidine mouthwash is very effective in slowing down the plaque buildup in teeth, healing gum inflammation and reducing the microbial load in the oral cavity. In a further study, a mouthwash made of Triphala and 0.2% chlorhexidine is claimed to be equally effective in treating the gum inflammation and plaque buildup in hospitalised periodontal disease patients.

Triphala as an antimicrobial

In Ayurveda, Triphala has been traditionally in use as an antimicrobial agent. Recently, Lab studies too have shown the antimicrobial and antibacterial potential of Triphala. A research done in India suggests that the ethanolic extracts of triphala have been found very successful against most of the common bacteria that lead to secondary diseases in HIV patients. The study found triphala to be effective against Escherichia coli, Salmonella typhi, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Vibrio cholerae etc. However, none of these effects have been tested in human subjects so far.

Triphala as an antioxidant

Triphala is rich in vitamin C, polyphenols and other antioxidants that make it the perfect agent for combating the free radical damage in the body. Free radicals are a kind of reactive oxygen species which is formed in the body as a result of some of the usual body functions and keep accumulating with age. But certain lifestyle and dietary choices like overconsumption of junk food, smoking or pollution lead to a much faster accumulation of these free radicals in the body. According to scientists, the excess amount of these free radicals in the body is the primary cause of a lot of health-related problems and diseases. High free radical content affects the proper functioning and health of every major organ of the body, including heart, liver, and kidneys and it is one of the primary causes of the early onset of aging symptoms in humans. So how do antioxidants help fight these so hyped free radicals? A good antioxidant supplement will scavenge and neutralize(stop them from harming the body) the free radicals thus protecting the body from an early damage.

Triphala for diabetes

Triphala has a potent hypoglycemic (reduces sugar) in the body. Studies claim that triphala acts very much like the commercially available antidiabetic drugs by inhibiting the secretion of two major enzymes from insulin namely alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. These enzymes are responsible for the breakdown of the larger sugar compounds into glucose. Inhibition of these enzymes would stop the formation of glucose and its subsequent release into the blood. Thus, the blood sugar level would be controlled. A study done in India, on 45 patients with non insulin dependent diabetes showed that regular consumption of triphala has a significant effect in reducing blood sugar levels.

Triphala as an anti-arthritic

Triphala is an excellent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. These two qualities make it a perfect supplement for relieving arthritis and arthritis related symptoms. Animal studies claim that triphala repairs the cartilage and bone damage in people suffering from rheumatoid arthritis. However, no human studies have been done so far to study the effectiveness of triphala in the treatments of arthritis in humans.

Triphala anticancer properties

Numerous studies have been done to study the anti-cancer activities of Triphala and all of these studies claim the effectiveness of triphala as a potential anti-cancer drug. A recent study in India suggests that triphala has potent anti-proliferative(stops the growth of ) and apoptotic (kills the cancer cells) properties on the colon cancer cells in the body. A further study on the prostate cancer claims that the gallic acid (a chemical compound) present in triphala is responsible for its anticancer activity. Not only this, the apoptotic(cell killing) action of triphala has been shown to have a differentiating effect on normal cells and cancer cells. It kills cancer cells without affecting the normal cells of the body. However, no studies have done so far to test the anticancer effects of Triphala in human subjects. So, it ’s preferable to refer to your ayurveda doctor to know more about the anti-cancer effects of triphala.

Triphala is generally considered very safe for a long-term consumption. Even if you are an otherwise healthy person you can take Triphala for its nutritive benefits. But it does have some side effects which should be taken into consideration before adding Triphala to your diet.

  1. Triphala is a natural laxative. While its very beneficial when taken in moderation, an overdose of triphala can lead to diarrhoea and dysentery.

  2. If you are already on a prescribed medication, it's better to ask your Ayurveda doctor before adding Triphala to your diet as it can interfere with the actions of the medicines.

  3. There are no scientific proofs of the safety of Triphala for pregnant and nursing mothers so pregnant women are advised to not take triphala in any form or consult your doctor before using it.

  4. Triphala should not be given to children.

  5. Some people complain of sleep disruption after taking triphala but that would depend on the dosage of the powder.

Triphala is most commonly taken in the form of a powder or Triphala “churna” but it is also available commercially in the form of tablets, capsules and Triphala juice or ras. For topical use Triphala can also be used in the form of an oil.

The ratio of the amount of the three herbs for preparing Triphala powder varies with the individual body type but generally, the three herbs are added in the 1 (harad) 2 (baheda 4 (amla) ratio.  ½ tsp of the powder can then be taken with water (in the form of a tea) either early in the morning or at night after your meals. Ayurvedic doctors suggest taking Triphala separately as three churnas in their 1:2:4 ratio. The baheda churna is suggested to be taken right before the meal, the amla churna is suggested to be taken right after the meal and the harad churna is suggested to be consumed at least  2-3 hours after the meal. According to Ayurveda all of these powders should be taken with ghee and honey for best results. Regular consumption of triphala is known to be very effective in improving the digestion and supplementing the essential minerals and nutrients for the body. However, if you really want to make this health-boosting ayurvedic formulation at home, It is highly recommended to refer to your Ayurveda doctor for the dosage and methods of making triphala churna.

Triphala Guggulu which is often confused with triphala is a slightly different formulation which adds long piper and guggulu (myrrh resin) to the triphala fruits and is used as an anti inflammatory preparation in Ayurveda.

Triphala can be taken on an empty stomach or after meals as per the physician’s recommendation. A general dosage of ½ tsp of triphala powder can be taken in the form of tea once a day.Triphala powder can be taken twice a day with ghee or honey but the amount of powder in each dose, in this case, would be different from that taken with water. The dosage of Triphala varies according to the body type, age, gender and other factors but ayurvedic doctors suggest that the daily dose of triphala for adults should not exceed 2 tsp.

The dose of Triphala capsules, syrup and tablets would vary as per the potency of the triphala product and as per individual body type and physiology. So, if you want to enjoy the specific medical benefits of this ayurvedic churna, it’s better to refer to an ayurvedic doctor to know the proper dosage of triphala for you.

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References

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