Triphala, meaning 'three fruits,' is appropriately a blend of three fruits and a well-known, highly-respected traditional formula in Ayurveda, offering so many benefits for all three of the Doshas.
Triphala is used to enhance digestion and eliminatory regularity, and helps good bacteria to flourish in the gut. It is most celebrated for its properties as a gentle bowel tonic and rasayana (rejuvenative), assisting with digestion, and supporting regular evacuation, and is highly antioxidant, helping to protect the body and mind from damage due to free radicals, and removing the system of excess waste and weight.
How does Triphala offer so many wide-ranging benefits? It is because Triphala churna (powder) consists of the fruits of Amalaki, Bibhitaki and Haritaki.
Amalaki (emblica officinalis), named after the actual Rasa (taste) of Amla, which means sour,' is a beloved, cooling fruit in Ayurveda and is also known as Indian Gooseberrry. Amalaki is a prized rejuvenator, known to cleanse the Dhatus (tissues) of Ama (waste/toxicity) as well as balance all three Doshas, while specifically working on Pitta Dosha. It is very high in Vitamin C (said to have 20 times the Vitamin C content of one orange) and therefore, an excellent immunity-booster. It can be helpful for frequent colds or flu, ongoing cough, bronchitis, or upper-respiratory tract infections. Amla is also used in conjunction with chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer. Amalaki is said to be sattvika, meaning that it brings good fortune, love and longevity to those who use it.
Bibhitaki (terminalia belerica), which means 'intimidating,' is also considered a powerful rejuvenator (rasayana), especially for Kapha Dosha. It has the effect of reducing excess Medas (fat) and mucous in the system. This fruit is known as "the one who keeps away disease." It is known for its various healing benefits, including relieving stress, balancing metabolic conditions, and cleansing the liver, but one of its most powerful actions is upon the digestive tract. It actively facilitates the breaking down of food particles in the stomach and intestine, triggers the secretion of digestive juices and thereby increases the absorption of essential nutrients through the intestines. Not only does it help to eliminate abdominal gas while reducing abdominal distension, bloating and gaseous cramps, but also plays a pivotal role in treating a host of gastrointestinal anomalies like sluggish constipation, indigestion, gastritis, stomach ulcers etc.
Haritaki (terminalia chebula), which means 'to colour yellow,' because of the yellowish dye (harita) that it contains, is famed for being able to 'cure all disease.' Its secondary name, 'Abhaya,' refers to the 'fearlesness' that it provides in the face of disease. Haritaki is best known for its ability to work on and balance Vata Dosha and due to its mild laxative effect, reduce Ama and relieve constipation. In this way, it can also eliminate the effects of Ama as they show up in the body, such as through a thick, greyish coating on the tongue every morning, abdominal pain/distension, foul-smelling feces and breath, flatulence and more. It is considered a rejuvenative (rasayana) to Vata Dosha, offering a nourishing and restorative effect to the nervous system, while improving digestion and restoring colon function.
With equal parts of these three fruits, it's not hard to understand why Triphala is so widely-used in Ayurveda, especially for the digestive system, detoxification, weight-loss and simultaneous nourishment and rejuvenation. Most famously, Triphala is known for its gentle laxative effect (non-habit forming!!!), as it induces peristalsis and can shift a sluggish bowel from imbalance to daily regularity.
You can easily make a constipation-relieving Triphala Tea every day, if you find yourself with irregular elimination, especially if constipation, dry stools and inconsistency in the quality and timing of your elimination is common. Find our recipe for this bowel-friendly tea here.
Triphala can also contribute to balancing the Doshas, and therefore, improving overall health, because it is said to contain all of the Rasas (tastes), including sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent, but not the salty taste.
We recommend that pregnant or nursing women consult their health care provider before the use of Triphala. Similarly for those dealing with acute cases of diarrhea and dysentery. Occasional side effects of Triphala can include loose or runny stools and stomach cramping, as well as increased intestinal gas due to possible cleansing and detoxification effects in the digestive tract. However, this usually indicates that one is taking the formulation improperly for their needs. If any of these side-effects take place, please cut back on continued use and consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for personalized dosage and recommendations.