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.
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 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 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 contains vitamins and minerals such as:
Like the other components of Triphala, haritaki also has powerful antioxidants, such as polyphenols, terpenes, and anthocyanins.
Potential Health Benefits of Triphala
The antioxidants in Triphala’s three fruits may help to boost your health. Consider these polyherbal remedy benefits:
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.
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:
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.