Triphala: Is It Good For You?

Triphala, a herbal remedy (or polyherbal medicine) is a mixture of three dried fruits. In fact, Triphala literally means “three fruits” in Sanskrit. They are:

  • Amala (Emblica officinalis), also called Indian gooseberry
  • Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica)
  • Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)

The combination of these components working together is said to be more effective than if taken separately. 

This type of herbal medicine is popular in the practice of Ayurveda. Translating to “knowledge of life” in English, the goal of this 3,000-year-old practice is to provide you with recommended lifestyle changes combined with natural therapies to restore the balance of your mind, body, and spirit.

Ayurveda encourages multiple herb mixes like Triphala to treat a variety of different health issues and prevent chronic diseases. It has been touted for its ability to:

  • Aid in digestion and weight loss
  • Regulating blood sugar levels
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Preventing cancer
  • Lower cholesterol
  • Normalize blood pressure
  • Inhibit HIV
  • Reduce tumors
  • Protect and improve liver function

While it may offer some health benefits, Triphala has not been thoroughly studied for every health condition Ayurveda uses it to treat.

Nutrition Information

In one teaspoon (2.8 grams) of Triphala powder, there is:

  • Calories: 10
  • Protein: 0 grams
  • Fat: 0 grams
  • Carbohydrates: 3 grams
  • Fiber: 1 gram
  • Sugar: 0 grams

The three fruits in Triphala each have important nutrients:

Amala

Amala is high in vitamin C, essential minerals, and amino acids. It also has powerful antioxidants, such as phenols, tannins, and curcuminoids. Antioxidants help prevent damage to your cells that can lead to serious diseases such as cancer. Some test-tube studies show that gooseberry extract may have anti-cancer properties. More studies are needed to understand the benefits for humans.  

Bibhitaki

Bibhitaki contains many antioxidants, such as ellagic acid, tannins, lignans, and flavones. The compounds may help to improve blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity, as well as provide anti-inflammatory effects.

Haritaki

Haritaki contains vitamins and minerals such as:

Like the other components of Triphala, haritaki also has powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, terpenes, and anthocyanins

Continued

Potential Health Benefits of Triphala

The antioxidants in Triphala’s three fruits may help to boost your health. Consider these polyherbal remedy benefits:

Reduce Inflammation

The three fruits in Triphala contain many antioxidants, such as flavonoids, polyphenols, saponins, vitamin C, and more. Antioxidants can help fight free radicals in the body, reducing inflammation along with your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and others. 

Anti-Cancer Properties

There is minimal research on Triphala’s anti-cancer properties. Some test-tube studies show that it may help to kill colon cancer cells as well as prostate cancer cells. While the studies are promising, determining the effectiveness and safety of the treatment requires more research. 

Improve Digestive Issues

One of the oldest uses for Triphala is to treat constipation. Research shows that it may be an effective natural alternative to over-the-counter laxatives. One study shows improvement in constipation symptoms.

Another study found that Triphala may help reduce constipation and improve the consistency of bowel movements. 

Aid in Weight Loss

Some research shows that Triphala may help with weight loss. One study found that people who took a small dose of Triphala everyday saw greater weight reductions than those who took a placebo.

Protect Dental Health

The antioxidants in Triphala have anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. These properties may help to prevent the formation of plaque on the teeth, which can lead to cavities and gum disease. One study found that a mouthwash containing Triphala reduced plaque buildup and gum inflammation.

Another study found that Triphala could help reduce plaque and gum inflammation in people who were hospitalized due to gum disease. 

Regulate Blood Sugar Levels

Amala, one of the three fruits in Triphala, has antioxidants that may provide antidiabetic effects. These include lowering blood sugar levels and treating nerve damage in people with type 2 diabetes.

Some other studies suggest that Triphala may help to lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. But there is limited research in this area. 

Potential Risks of Triphala

Because Triphala has three herbal ingredients, you should consult with your doctor before taking it or any supplement. Consider the following before taking Triphala:

Pregnancy Concerns

No scientific studies show the effectiveness or safety of using Triphala while pregnant or breastfeeding. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should speak with your doctor before using it. 

May Cause Diarrhea

Studies show that Triphala may be an effective treatment for constipation. Taking too much, however, may lead to abdominal cramps, stomach upset, and diarrhea. Consuming triphala on an empty stomach may increase your risk of experiencing stomach issues.

May Interfere with Certain Medications

If you take blood-thinning medications such as Warfarin, you should speak with your doctor before adding Triphala to your regimen. Some studies show that it can decrease the effectiveness of such medications. If you’re taking medications for high blood pressure, you may also want to avoid Triphala; your blood pressure could drop too low taking this polyherbal remedy.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Dan Brennan, MD on November 03, 2020

Sources

SOURCES:

Johns Hopkins Medicine: “Ayurveda.”

Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: “Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine.”

Pharmacognosy Review: “Polyherbal Formulation: Concept of Ayurveda.”

Nutritionix: “Triphala, Planetary Herbs.”

Phytotherapy Research: “Chemical and Antioxidant Evaluation of Indian Gooseberry (Emblica officinalis gaertn., Syn. Phyllanthus emblica L.) Supplements.”

European Journal of Medical Research: “Polyphenol Extract of Phyllanthus emblica (PEEP) Induces Inhibition of Cell Proliferation and Triggers Apoptosis in Cervical Cancer Cells.”

Journal of Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry: “Pharmacological Activities of Baheda (Terminalia bellirica): A Review.”

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Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity: “Plant Polyphenols as Dietary Antioxidants in Human Health and Disease.”

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Anticancer Research: “Differential Cytotoxicity of Triphala and Its Phenolic Constituent Gallic Acid on Human Prostate Cancer NLCap and Normal Cells.”

Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine: “An Open-Label, Prospective Clinical Study to Evaluate the Efficacy and Safety of TLPL/AY/01/2008 in the Management of Functional Constipation.”

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Journal of Periodontal & Implant Science: “A Randomized Clinical Trial to Evaluate and Compare the Efficacy of Triphala Mouthwash with 0.2% Chlorohexadrine in Hospitalized Patients with Periodontal Diseases.”

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© 2020 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

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