Triphala (Trifala) has a myriad benefits primarily because of its composition of 3 powerful healing herbs - Amalaki, Haritaki and Vibhitaki. The 3 herbs in dried powdered form are blended together in equal proportions.
In Ayurveda, Triphala is considered a 'tridoshic rasayan', having balancing and rejuvenating effects on the three constitutional elements that govern human life: Vata which regulates the nervous system, Pitta which maintains metabolic processes, and Kapha which supports structural integrity.
Amalaki, Emblica Officinalis is one of Ayurveda's greatest rejuvenators and a strong natural anti-oxidant. It also helps to boost the immune system and balances Pitta. Haritaki, Terminalia Chebula, known as the "king of medicine" in Tibet, is often depicted in the extended palm of the Buddha. A classic heart-brain-longevity tonic Haritaki balances Vata. Vibhitaki, Terminalia Belerica, is a powerful rejuvenative that reduces liver and heart disease. It also improves the voice, vision and promotes the growth of hair. It is a balancer of Kapha.
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Benefits of Triphala
- Triphala for Digestion and Colon Cleansing -
Colon cleansing is an ancient and proven practice for rejuvenating the body. It helps to detoxify and clean decayed food residues and other toxic substances accumulated in the intestines walls.
Purging the colon helps get rid of constipation, hemorrhoids, parasites, flatulence, acne, bad breath and foul body and also helps prevent colon cancer. Headaches, irritability, and depression have also been found to be relieved by clearing the colon.
In a survey conducted worldwide, Triphala was considered the best colon cleanser in the world. All three herbs in Triphala are laxative in nature and very beneficial in removing toxins.
Formulated by Ayurvedic physicians thousands of years ago and used by literally billions of people since, it is considered the safest laxative and colon tonic by most health care practitioners.
Where other colon formulas are depleting, Triphala is mild, non-habit forming and a rejuvenative.
Triphala is a great aid to digestion as it improves the absorption of food in the intestines especially in the duodenum where most chemical digestion takes place.
Triphala also helps to stimulate various gastric enzymes that help to convert complex food into more easily digestible form. It even stimulates the peristaltic action of the intestinal lining (due to its anthroquinones and other bitter compounds)
that aids in proper movement of food at various levels of the digestive tract. It loosens stools facilitating easy evacuation of the bowel.
While triphala is somewhat laxative to many people due to the anthoquinones, the balance of tannins naturally present has a toning effect. In vitro studies have also shown that triphala is lethal to a variety of gastrointestinal pathogens, including bacteria such as Salmonella typhii, Shigella, Klebsiella and Pseudomonas, and fungi like Candida albicans.
A comparative study of the efficacy of Emblica officinalis fruit powder with a conventional antacid formulation was performed. In a 4 week study, 38 patients with dyspepsia and with or without stomach ulcer were divided into two groups : one group received the fruit powder and the other, the antacid. Emblica was used at the level of 3 gm per dose, three times a day while gel antacid was used at 30 ml per dose, up to 6 times a day. The improvement in the clinical symptoms score (belching, fullness, heartburn, regurgitation, nausea and vomiting) in ulcer dyspeptics was from the initial 4.2 to 0.4 (p < 0.01) post treatment score for antacid group, and 4.6 to 0.6 (p<0.05) for the Emblica group. Endoscopic examination showed all ulcers in the antacid group in the process of healing, while all but one patient in Emblica group had completely healed ulcers. In the non-ulcer group both antacid and Emblica produced a significant decrease in clinical symptoms score from 4.4 to 1.53 (p<0.01) and 5.0 to 1.61 (p<0.01) respectively (22).
Triphala's benefits for the digestive system make it a very useful herbal medicine for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and Ulcerative Colitis.
- Triphala for Weight Loss -
Overeating and obesity disrupt digestion and overburden the gastrointestinal tract. The liver and bowel which are internal organs of elimination get congested
leading to poor nutrient assimilation, imbalances, overgrowth in the intestinal microflora, and putrefaction of ill-digested food.
For such conditions, triphala can be highly effective in promoting digestion, removing toxins and preventing stagnation of both the liver and intestines. Better digestion signals satiety to the body preventing food cravings
One recent molecular finding supports Triphala's traditional use in treating obesity. Researchers at the BRA Centre for Biomedical Research found that active molecules in triphala bind to the cellular receptor for CCK or cholecystokinin. CCK is a satiety hormone, released to indicate that you are full, and is especially responsive to fat. Synthetic analogs of CCK are under development by pharmaceutical companies to help people realize that they’re full, thereby controlling appetite and supporting healthy weight.
- Triphala for Blood Purification, Blood Circulation and Blood pressure - Triphala's strong affinity for micro-organisms prevents them from causing damage in the body and renders them inactive. This astringent property of Triphala helps in purification of blood and also helps in maintaining the proper density of the blood.
Triphala's blood purification properties also make it useful in treating skin conditions.
Triphala reduces the serum cholesterol, high blood pressure and protects against cardiovascular disease. It reduces plaque formation in arteries thereby reducing the risk of heart related problems due to arteriosclerosis.
It significantly improves liver functions and blood circulation.
- Triphala for Immunity - Triphala has powerful anti oxidant agents that help in regularizing the metabolism of cells and ease their proper functioning. This reduces the risk of production of free radicals that are the main cause of aging. It also stimulates the functioning of cell organelles like mitochondria, golgi bodies and nucleus that play a vital role in proper functioning of the cell. Recent studies have shown Triphala to be an anti-cancer agent. It has the ability to kill tumor cells while sparing normal ones
- Triphala for Controlling Diabetes - Studies have shown Triphala's benefits in the treatment of diabetes mellitus. Triphala helps in stimulating the pancreas thereby promoting insulin secretion.
In a study conducted by the American Botanical Council, it was shown that Triphala greatly reduced blood glucose levels in diabetic rats. The study concluded that the mechanism of action of these extracts for lowering blood glucose is not known, but they may decrease the effect of inflammatory cytokine release in diabetics, which in turn might reduce insulin resistance. Interestingly, the authors note that traditional medications used to treat diabetes also have significant antioxidant effects.
In a study published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, it was shown that compounds in Triphala such as ellagitannins, chebulagic acid, corilagin and gallotannins increased PPAR protein expressions causing insulin-stimulated glucose uptake without inducing adipogenesis.
- Triphala in correcting eye disorders - Triphala is also widely taken for all eye diseases including the treatment of conjunctivitis, progressive myopia, the early stages of glaucoma and cataracts.
In a study on rats, it was found that Triphala caused a significant restoration in the activities of antioxidant enzymes such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, and glutathione-s-transferase. Triphala's ability to prevent or retard cataracts may be due to its antioxidant properties.
- Triphala in wound healing - A study in the Journal of Surgical Research showed that Triphala had antimicrobial activity against wound pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, and Streptococcus pyogenes. Application of triphala extract ointment in rats showed marked reduction in bacterial levels and increased levels of collagen, hexosamine, uronic acid, and superoxide dismutase in the treated group
In a further 2010 study it was shown that using a triphala incorporated collagen sponge was shown to improve thermal stability, tissue regeneration, wound closure, water uptake capability and collagen content at the wound site. The inflammatory phase was also reduced.
More information on Triphala
J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Sep 16;149(2):490-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.07.003. Epub 2013 Jul 10.
Constituents from Terminalia species increase PPARa and PPARy levels and stimulate glucose uptake without enhancing adipocyte differentiation.
J Surg Res. 2008 Jan;144(1):94-101. Epub 2007 Jul 27.
Triphala promotes healing of infected full-thickness dermal wound.
J Surg Res. 2010 Jan;158(1):162-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2008.07.006.
Triphala incorporated collagen sponge--a smart biomaterial for infected dermal wound healing.
Daru. 2012 Sep 10;20(1):33. doi: 10.1186/2008-2231-20-33.
Efficacy of 'Itrifal Saghir', a combination of three medicinal plants in the treatment of obesity; A randomized controlled trial.
J Ayurveda Integr Med. 2010 Oct;1(4):280-6. doi: 10.4103/0975-9476.74425.
Evaluation of anticataract potential of Triphala in selenite-induced cataract: In vitro and in vivo studies.