Triphala is one of the most important polyherbal preparations in Ayurveda. Modern science is starting to understand why. Learn more about triphala benefits!April 27, 2022 4:52 pm July 13, 2020 9:09 am
What is triphala?
Triphala means ‘three fruits’. It is a traditional Ayurvedic polyherbal treatment made up of three medicinal fruits: amla (Indian gooseberry), bibhitaki, and haritaki. They are all native to India, and each is thought to benefit the three doshas, or life forces (more on those later on!).
Triphala benefits are thought to include everything from cavities to overall health. In Ayurvedic medicine, triphala is classed as a Rasayana, or extremely powerful rejuvenating and restorative preparation. Rasayanas are especially useful for strength and immunity.
Triphala is also linked to good digestive health and is thought to be beneficial to the gut microbiome. In Ayurveda, the gut is where all illness – and all wellness – starts. Therefore, many people consider triphala to be something of a ‘cure-all’ which can be useful in treating a wide range of ailments.
As such, triphala has gained quite the reputation among followers of Ayurveda. The wise Ayurvedic physician Charark states in a central text that triphala can help one live for a hundred years without ageing or disease. Or, how about the Indian saying; “No mother? Don’t worry, as long as you have Triphala.”? Both are great examples of just how much triphala is revered in Ayurveda!
Modern science is beginning to substantiate triphala’s benefits. However, much of the research that has been done into triphala tests each fruit on its own.
Ayurveda, on the other hand, teaches that the whole is much more than the sum of its parts. What’s more, adherents believe that the proportions of the triphala mixture are absolutely crucial to its health benefits.
For these reasons and more, it may be a while before modern science has an full understanding of triphala. However, below we’ve summarised the information currently available from both traditional and scientific sources.
The makeup of triphala
Scientists have linked many of the benefits of triphala to its impressive antioxidant content.
Triphala contains ellagic acid, tannins, chebulinic acid, and gallic acid. All of these are quite potent antioxidants that boost immunomodulatory abilities.(1)
However, each fruit brings its own healing powers to the table.
Haritaki may be beneficial to the gastrointestinal tract and to the liver. Bibithaki may be a gentle laxative and detoxifying agent. Finally, amla may be helpful in bringing down inflammation. Together, they make a powerful trio.
Triphala benefits the gut microbiome
Triphala may help to balance the incredibly important community of bacteria living in our gut. Scientists believe this is down to their polyphenols, a type of micronutrient which also acts as an antioxidant.
Triphala can help encourage the growth of good bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria. Meanwhile, it also inhibits bad bacteria in the gut through its antimicrobial activity.
What’s more, your gut bacteria can make use of the bioactive compounds in triphala to produce several anti-inflammatory compounds.(1)
In other words, triphala supports your good bacteria, slows down your bad bacteria, and helps to make helpful new materials your body can use.
Some scientists think that taking probiotics alongside triphala may even further boost the effects of the preparation on the gut. However, further study is necessary to confirm if this is the case.
Practitioners of Ayurveda have long recommended triphala to holistically support gastrointestinal health. Recent scientific studies appear to provide evidence that triphala does indeed work to support your digestion in multiple ways.(2)
A review of studies indicated that, based on its qualities, triphala may also soothe Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS is an ailment which produces unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms, but its causes remain something of a mystery. Hence, any remedy which can offer relief is a boon to IBS sufferers.(3)
Triphala benefits the digestive system
Another way that triphala benefits the digestive system is by assisting in cleansing and elimination. The degree in which it does this depends on the strength of the preparation you take.
If you drink a mild triphala mixture, then the effect will be cumulative. That is, it will gently cleanse the body and specifically the colon of toxins, its effects gradually increasing with time. It is safe to take triphala on a long-term basis. As such, it may provide an attractive alternative to pharmaceutical laxatives, which prompt immediate relief but no long-term regularity.
However, triphala can also be a stronger, more active laxative if needed, when taken in a more concentrated dose.
Studies have suggested that triphala is a safe and efficient way to manage constipation, too.(4)
One study also noted that, in addition to easing constipation, triphala also seemed to manage h