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Triphala is an Ayurvedic mixture of the three dried fruits namely Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis or Amla), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica or Baheda) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula or Harad). Since it is made up of “three fruits”, it derived the name ‘Tri’ meaning three - ‘phala’ meaning fruits in that context. It is a popular remedy in Ayurveda for its revolutionary ongoing research as an anti-cancer supplement. However, this 1000-year-old plant-based formula is most commonly used for gastrointestinal complications particularly as an appetite stimulant and to aid digestion while building immunity. It is called Triphala churnam in its powder form.

In Ayurveda, Triphala is also known as the Tridoshic Rasayana referring to its therapeutic effects on the three doshas according to the demands of the body which are unique to every individual. Doshas are life forces constituted from the five basic elements that every human is believed to be made of - space, air, fire, water, earth. They are responsible for a person’s physiological, emotional and psychological health. The three doshas are Kapha, Vata and Pitta. In case of excess of Kapha and Pitta, Triphala controls and moderates the two in the body to reach optimum levels.

Benefits of Triphala

The three fruits (Amla, Baheda, Harad) present in Triphala have useful properties by themselves and by combining them, they give even better results for a number of health issues. Triphala also promotes longevity and overall health and well-being in numerous ways so it's not confined to people who are predisposed to illnesses:

  1. Digestion: It enhances the digestive process acting as a digestive tonic that cleanses the digestive organs. Its mild laxative properties (Rechana) help in the prevention and cure of constipation, general gastro-intestinal discomfort and irritable bowel syndrome. It also improves metabolism, preventing any kind of blockage due to impurities.

  2. Immune System: Through the Triphala Rasayana, i.e. rejuvenating properties, it strengthens the immune system. It is rich in antioxidants which help fight against oxidative stress. In this way, it also fights lethargy and fatigue in the body by generating energy and getting rid of the bodily toxins.

  3. Diabetes: Triphala protects people with diabetes or those who are predisposed to the illness by inhibiting the glycolytic enzymes. The presence of tannins, which are polyphenols that bind and precipitate proteins, and the promotion of lower blood glucose levels also inhibits and prevents glycation. In simpler words, it inhibits the digestion and absorption of starch thereby preventing post-meal hyperglycemia which is an excess of sugar in the blood.

  4. Eye Care: Strain due to radiation and pollutants in the air make our eyes vulnerable to various kinds of diseases and irritation. Triphala is rich in Vitamin A which facilitates the cure and prevention of such problems. One may regularly use Triphala churna juice as an eyewash but not without the prescription of an ophthalmologist.

  5. Skin and Hair problems: Triphala antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties help in healing and preventing dermatological issues like skin inflammation, redness, acne, oxidative injury, dryness of skin, etc. It rebuilds skin protein and retains moisture resulting in healthy skin. Triphala does wonders for healing wounds as it increases collagen formation and reduces the risk of infection due to harmful bacteria. Rich in Vitamin C due to the presence of Amla, Triphala suits every skin type, therefore, eliminating the risk of side effects. Regular use of products, especially ones with heavy chemicals in them can take a toll on your hair. Triphala has solutions for various kinds of hair problems as well. It can help reduce hair fall, prevent hair damage and dandruff, unclogs hair follicles, cure and prevents premature greying of hair, etc. It can be used to attain shinier, softer hair.

  6. Arthritis and Gout: Triphala has shown anti-arthritic effects in a study done on rats as it reduced the inflammation caused by arthritis. It may help combat the breakdown of bone and cartilage in rats with arthritis in the study as seen with the decrease in levels of bone collagen. Gout is caused by high levels of uric acid that leads to painful inflammation of the bone joints. A study conducted on mice reported a “strong anti-inflammatory effect” against gout in animals. The study showed that Triphala may flush out the excessive uric acid and naturally lower uric acid levels bringing great relief to those suffering from gout.

  7. Antioxidant: In a number of animal and test-tube studies, Triphala has been shown to boost antioxidant activity.

  8. Stress and Anxiety: Not only is stress difficult to deal with but it can also gravely impact our physiological and behavioural functions as well as our immune system making us vulnerable to several diseases. According to research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Triphala can help protect one from stress. It moderates the corticosterone levels as per the requirement to help cope with the stress. Corticosterone is also called the stress hormone which helps humans deal with environmental stresses.

Triphala has a lot more benifits it’s for very specific illnesses. For example, it may restore healthy enzymes in the stomach to prevent and cure stomach ulcers, treat hyperacidity, aid in liver problems due to its rejuvenating quality, asthma, jaundice, dental disease and cavities etc.

Composition of Triphala

Triphala is available in the form of capsules, extract, tea, powder, tablets and tincture. The method recommended in making Triphala churna varies from recipe to recipe. Some suggest adding Harad, Baheda and Amla in 3:2:4 ratios while others suggest adding all three fruits in equal ratios. One of the methods for making Triphala churna is:

  • After procuring the three fruits – Amla (150 gms), Harad (50 gms) and Baheda (100 gms), one must remove their seeds and cut them into small pieces.

  • Cut them into small pieces and leave them in an open space to sun-dry.

  • Once the fruits are sun-dried, grind them till they become fine powder using a mixer-grinder or mortar pestle.

  • Mix the three powders and store them in an airtight container.

According to Ayurvedic experts, Triphala churna has an expiry period between 3 to 6 months depending on its exposure to moisture.

Triphala and its various forms

Owing to its popularity in the mainstream market, Triphala is abundantly available especially in the form of tea and powder. It can be used in various ways for different purposes. Some ways of using Triphala are:

  • For Hair: Boil four tablespoons of Triphala churna with two pints of water for ten minutes. You may add two tablespoons of any oil to your liking if your hair is too dry. Take it off the heat to let it cool. Once it has cooled down to a comfortable temperature, slowly pour over your hair, taking pauses to properly massage the hair wash in. Wait 30 minutes before rinsing it out. It is recommended to do this every week for astonishing and favourable results

  • As Eye Wash: Boil half a teaspoon of Triphala churna in one cup of water for two to three minutes to make Triphala tea and strain it till no particles are left behind. If this step is skipped, it may result in extreme irritation in and around the eyes. Let the tea cool. Wash your eyes with the concoction by splashing it in your eyes and blinking in between to facilitate proper cleansing in the eye. This helps retain moisture in your eyes if you suffer from dry or irritable eyes. Although this method is safe and has been in regular practice by many for years, if you have an underlying medical eye condition, it is recommended that you consult your doctor before trying this out.

  • Skin Cleanser: Mix Triphala churna with warm coconut oil to make a paste and gently scrub your skin with it. If you suffer from dry and patchy skin, this paste will become your best friend in rejuvenating and hydrating your skin.

Another method for more sensitive areas is to make a Triphala tea as instructed for the eyewash and strain it through a fine cloth. Once it has cooled down, use the tea to wash your skin carefully. This method will soothe your skin if you have non-cystic acne or areas with excessive oil in the skin.

  • Toothpaste: Triphala has been acknowledged by many health experts to greatly impact dental hygiene if used correctly. Although it may not taste the best, a paste made of Triphala can help remove the buildup of toxins on our teeth, gums and tongue. It is effective in removing plaque on the teeth.

Mix a small amount of Triphala churna with warm water to form a paste. Scrub your teeth and gently massage your gums with this paste using your finger or toothbrush. Rinse your mouth with warm water.

  • Juice: Half a teaspoon of Triphala churna with two tablespoons aloe vera juice in 1 cup of warm water helps in case of low liver functioning or other general liver disorders. Drink one before going to bed every night. The aloe vera can act as a hydrating and cooling agent for the body.

  • Tea: Daily and regular intake of Triphala tea:

- can facilitate healthy bowel movements.

- helps build a stronger immune system.

- is beneficial for your skin, hair, mouth, stomach, liver, etc.

- may help prevent various types of cancer, ulcers, diabetes, etc.

- has a soothing effect on your mind and body, reducing stress-related problems.

You may add a spoon of honey to your Triphala tea for a better, sweeter taste. Drinking one glass of tea before bed and in the morning helps cure constipation.

Side effects and risks of Triphala

  1. Triphala’s laxative properties may be beneficial for many cases but if taken in higher doses, it can cause diarrhoea and can upset your stomach. If you find yourself suffering from such problems, reduce or stop taking your dosage altogether for some time.

  2. As mentioned above, Triphala is beneficial for decreasing blood sugar in cases of hyperglycemia. However, if taken in higher doses, it may lower your blood sugar below the optimum levels.

  3. Research is underway for Triphala’s possible effects on pregnant women and children. Always consult an Ayurvedic physician before consuming Triphala if you are pregnant.

  4. If you are buying Triphala from the store, be conscious of all the ingredients it contains and only buy products that have undergone testing from an independent third party as they may contain preservative supplements that can prove harmful to the body if taken regularly.

A research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine recommends the administration of “specific probiotic species” may enhance the benefits of Triphala as they are “capable of mediating the increased digestion” and other effects of Triphala. This can further enhance its effects and make the response of the human body to Triphala more uniform.

The wide range of problems shot down by Triphala and its side effects may sound overwhelming and daunting to some but moderate intake of Triphala especially after consultation with a doctor may soothe your mind and body and become a part of your routine in no time. Research on Triphala and its properties is still underway. It is exciting to see what new wonders Triphala may present for us in the future!

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