For over a millennia, Triphala has been used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine. This polyherbal compound has become popular in use around the globe due to its beneficial attributes, and if you’re curious to know what makes Triphala powder so impressive, look no further than this article. Read on to discover in detail the science-backed health benefits of this ancient remedy.
What Is Triphala Powder?
The Triphala powder mixture has been used as a multipurpose tool in Ayurvedic medicine for over 1,000 years, for health conditions as far-reaching as stomach pains to tooth cavities. It’s made from a blending of several different herbs, under the belief that a synergistic mixture helps to boost its overall power.
Triphala is derived from a rasayana (“the science of lengthening lifespan”) formula that includes three dried fruits from native Indian plants combined in equal parts: amla (Emblica officinalis), bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula). For more on these individual components, read on.
Amla (Emblica officinalis)
Better known by its common name, Indian gooseberry, dried amla is the first ingredient in Triphala powder. Amla is a wonder berry, and one of India’s oldest edible fruits.
The berries themselves have a sour taste and a fibrous feel, which is why they are often soaked in sweeteners like sugar syrups, pickled, or cooked into dishes before eating. However, when amla is dried and powdered as it is with Triphala, palatability is less of an issue. Amla and its extracts are used in Ayurvedic medicine from cancer prevention to constipation treatment, so what does the science say?
Indian gooseberries are high in amino acids, essential minerals, and vitamin C. Amla also contains tannins, phenols, curcuminoids, phyllembelic acid, rutin, and emblicol: all beneficial plant compounds and antioxidants. Laboratory studies have even returned results that suggest amla’s anti-cancer applications in inhibiting both ovarian and cervical cancer cells, though more testing is needed on human subjects at this time.
Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica)
The Terminalia bellirica tree is large and native to Southeast Asia, and it’s known as “Bibhitaki” in the Ayurvedic medicine tradition. The Bibhitaki fruit has been used traditionally to treat viral and bacterial infections, including the common cold, and is chemically composed of ellagic acid, gallic acid, tannins, flavones, and lignans: all of which have antioxidant or medicinal powers.
Scientifically, this herbal remedy exhibits significant anti-inflammatory properties. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-, and positive-controlled test from 2016 found that 500 milligrams of Bibhitaki reduced uric acid levels in participants suffering from gout, which is an inflammatory condition characterized by uric acid buildup in the joints. Ellagic and gallic acid specifically are phytochemical components that have been shown to improve insulin sensitivity, blood sugar levels, and body weight management, all factors in treating blood sugar dysregulation and type 2 diabetes.
Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
The medicinal tree Terminalia chebula grows throughout India, China, Thailand, and the Middle East. Known as “Haritaki” in Ayurvedic medicine, its little green fruits are the third and final ingredient in Triphala powder. Used for serious conditions including asthma, heart disease, and stomach conditions like ulcers, Haritaki is also called the “king of medicines” in the Ayurvedic tradition.
Scientific investigations have confirmed the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Haritaki, which is filled with with the phytochemicals polyphenols, flavonoids, terpenes, and anthocyanins. Haritaki has shown a particular ability to treat digestive issues such as constipation by slowing down the time it takes for waste matter to travel through the intestines.
Scientifically Proven Triphala Powder Benefits
Clinical trials show that the benefits of Triphala powder are vast, with applications for various common illnesses and chronic conditions.
Triphala powder contains many antioxidants that can help stop the oxidative stress caused by free radical damage in the body. Free radicals contribute to a number of chronic conditions and stoke unnecessary inflammation. The plant compounds in Triphala, including its tannins, saponins, polyphenols, flavonoids, and the ever-powerful vitamin C, can help subdue unwieldy inflammation.
Those who consume high amounts of antioxidants have been shown time and time again in clinical trials to have reduced risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, many forms of cancer, and premature aging. Not only that, Triphala has been specifically found to lessen the damage imposed by arthritis and to reduce overall arthritic inflammation.
Supplementing with antioxidant-containing compounds like Triphala powder has also been known to improve athletic performance, treat inflammatory bowel disease, and guard against heart disease as well.
Certain cancers have been seen to respond positively to Triphala in many animal and laboratory studies. This animal study on lymphoma found that Triphala was able to inhibit the growth of cancer cells, and it did the same in this study of pancreatic cancer cells in mice, inducing apoptosis, which is the death of cancer cells. Prostate and colon cancer cells have been inhibited by the application of Triphala as well, making it a very promising herbal remedy.
Researchers suggest that these cancer-fighting effects are caused by the polyphenols and antioxidants in Triphala, though human studies will need to be done before a scientific consensus can be reached.
Weight Loss Aid
There are clinical studies showing that Triphala may help with body fat loss, specifically in regards to dangerous belly fat. This animal study where rats and mice were fed a high-fat diet showed that the animals who received Triphala supplementation had significantly lowered levels of body fat, body weight, and energy intake compared to the control group.
A human study done with 62 obese participants found that those who were given 10 grams of Triphala powder per day had significantly reduced weight, waist, and hip circumference over the placebo group.
Natural Laxative Abilities
For those suffering from digestive disorders like irritable bowel syndrome, it might be very encouraging to know that Triphala powder has long been used to treat digestive disorders, including constipation. Instead of using over-the-counter drugs and laxatives, why not try using Triphala, which has been clinically shown in those with gastrointestinal disorders to have a positive effect on the frequency and ease of bowel movements, as well as flatulence and abdominal pain.
Not only that, animal studies have been done that reveal Triphala’s ability to repair intestinal damage and reduce inflammation in the intestinal system, two more ways it contributes to digestive health and well-being.
Defense Against Dental Diseases
Triphala may even improve your dental health, from reducing plaque buildup, to alleviating gum inflammation (gingivitis), to preventing cavities. This is due to Triphala’s anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Triphala reduced bacterial growth in the mouths of children given a Triphala-containing mouthwash to rinse with according to the results of a 2011 study. Another study from 2014 found that a mouthwash containing Triphala extract reduced both plaque and gum inflammation in patients hospitalized with periodontal disease.
Triphala Powder Side Effects
While Triphala is considered generally safe to use and has been for thousands of years, there may still be certain unwelcome side effects. For example, Triphala’s laxative effect may lead to stomach upset or diarrhea, especially if consumed at too high a dose. Triphala is also not advised for any pregnant or lactating women, and should not be given to children outside of clinical circumstances (as in the case of the mouthwash trial). While no adverse incidents are currently reported in these groups, there is nevertheless not enough data to guarantee the use of Triphala safe for vulnerable populations, and any amount of risk is simply not worth it.
Amla may increase the risk of bruising or bleeding in those with blood disorders. If you are taking any other medications, including a blood thinner such as Warfarin, do not self-medicate with herbal supplements without seeking medical advice from a qualified health care expert.
How to Take Triphala Powder
You can find Triphala powder, liquid, or capsules at many health food stores, specialty shops, and online. Experts recommend mixing Triphala powder with hot water to form a tea. Start at 500 milligrams per day to test its impact on your stomach and digestive system. Add some honey for flavor or make a classic Ayurvedic moon milk with it!
Triphala is best consumed on an empty stomach to maximize absorption. When shopping, seek certified organic Triphala powder, always non-GMO and gluten free, because when it comes to health supplements you deserve the highest quality products available.
Trip the Light Triphala
The Ayurvedic remedy Triphala is gaining a new modern popularity due to its scientifically proven components. A three-pronged herbal formulation, Triphala boasts anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, and anti-cancer properties, and can help aid digestive issues, blood sugar control, and weight loss. With so many potential health benefits, this ancient medicine deserves its stellar reputation.