Triphala powder is an ancient Ayurvedic herbal formula that has been used in India for over 1,000 years. It's made from three dried fruits native to the Indian subcontinent:
- Amla (Emblica officinalis), commonly known as Indian gooseberry
- Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica)
- Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
These three fruits each have their own medicinal properties, but when combined in triphala powder, they create a synergistic formula that is believed to provide a wide range of health benefits.
What is Triphala Used For?
In Ayurveda, triphala powder is considered a rasayana - a rejuvenating tonic that promotes longevity and overall good health. It's used both as a daily supplement to support wellness and prevent disease, as well as a treatment for many specific health conditions.
Some of the main traditional uses of triphala powder include:
- Digestive health: Triphala promotes healthy digestion, relieves constipation, improves nutrient absorption, and balances gut bacteria.
- Detoxification: Triphala helps cleanse the liver and blood of toxins (ama). It's used in Ayurvedic detox protocols.
- Immune support: Triphala contains antioxidants and nutrients that help strengthen immunity. It also has antimicrobial effects against certain pathogens.
- Oral health: Triphala reduces plaque and supports healthy gums due to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Inflammatory conditions: The antioxidants in triphala help reduce inflammation associated with arthritis, allergies, respiratory issues, and autoimmune disorders.
- Diabetes: Animal and human studies show triphala helps lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Eye health: Triphala has been used traditionally as a wash for tired or irritated eyes. Studies show it protects against cataract formation.
Some additional therapeutic uses for triphala powder mentioned in Ayurvedic texts include wound healing, anemia, fatigue, liver support, bleeding disorders, high blood pressure, fungal infections, and pain relief.
Nutrients and Active Compounds in Triphala
The triphala fruits are packed with beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other bioactive compounds:
- Vitamin C: Amla is one of the highest natural sources of vitamin C.
- Gallotannins: Powerful polyphenols with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and anticancer effects.
- Flavonoids: Bioflavonoids like quercetin that strengthen immunity and blood vessels.
- Polysaccharides: Complex carbs that feed good gut bacteria.
- Omega fatty acids: Essential fats for brain function and cardiovascular health.
When these three triphala fruits are combined, the nutrients have a synergistic effect - enhancing the individual benefits of each component.
Key Takeaway: Triphala powder has a wide range of therapeutic uses in Ayurveda, especially for digestive health, detoxification, oral care, inflammation, diabetes, and eye issues. It contains a synergistic blend of vitamins, antioxidants, and other beneficial plant compounds.
Scientifically Proven Benefits of Triphala
While triphala powder has been used traditionally in Ayurveda for centuries, modern research is now confirming many of its health benefits:
1. Supports Digestive Health
Multiple human studies show triphala improves constipation and other symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) like abdominal pain and bloating.
It helps normalize bowel movements through its combination of fiber, antioxidants, and antimicrobial compounds which promote gut motility and healthy intestinal flora.
Triphala may also help heal ulcers. Animal studies show it protects the lining of the stomach and intestines while enhancing mucus secretion - preventing damage from excess acid, toxins, stress, and medications like NSAIDs.
2. Powerful Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory
Triphala has very high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity - comparable to vitamin C and superfoods like green tea and pomegranate.
The gallic acid, ellagic acid, chebulinic acid and other phenols scavenge free radicals that cause oxidative stress and inflammation throughout the body.
This helps lower risk factors for chronic diseases like heart disease, neurodegeneration, autoimmunity, and cancer.
Human studies show just 6 weeks of triphala supplementation significantly decreases inflammatory markers like hs-CRP.
3. Lowers Blood Sugar and Cholesterol
A mlaki and haritaki (two of the triphala fruits) have proven effects on diabetic parameters.
They make cells more responsive to insulin, inhibit glucose absorption from the gut, and reduce serum lipids that contribute to heart disease risk.
In multiple human studies, taking just a few grams per day of triphala for 10-12 weeks lowered fasting blood sugar by 11-17% on average while also reducing LDL and triglycerides. Impressive results!
4. Protects Vision and Delays Cataracts
Triphala has traditional uses as an eye wash, and studies confirm it protects vision in a few key ways:
- Its antioxidants prevent oxidative damage to the lens and retina that can impair sight.
- It enhances levels of glutathione - the main antioxidant in the eye that declines with aging.
- It delays the formation of cataracts by preserving lens clarity and enzyme function.
Feeding triphala to rats with drug-induced cataracts prevented over 50% of lens opacity compared to controls.
5. Potent Antimicrobial Properties
Many lab studies have shown triphala and its individual fruits inhibit bacterial, fungal, and viral pathogens - including drug resistant superbugs like MRSA.
Its main antimicrobial compounds (like gallic acid) prevent infections from binding to and penetrating human cells.
One study found triphala was just as effective as a chlorhexidine mouthwash at reducing dental plaque due to effects against strep mutans bacteria.
With antibiotic resistance on the rise, triphala may be a useful natural alternative for prevention and treatment of common infections.
Key Takeaway: Human clinical studies show triphala improves IBS symptoms, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels significantly, protects vision from oxidative damage, and has antimicrobial effects against common pathogens.
How to Take Triphala Powder
Triphala comes in powder, tablet, and liquid extract forms. The powder is considered most effective since it allows customization of the dosage.
The standard dose is about 1,000mg taken once or twice per day. It's best to take triphala on an empty stomach either first thing in the morning, mid-morning, and/or before bed.
Start with 500mg (about 1/4 tsp) once daily for the first week, then increase slowly to find the optimal dosage based on your needs and digestive tolerance.
Here are some popular ways to take triphala powder:
- Stir 1/4-1 tsp into a glass of cool water or non-dairy milk
- Mix with honey to make a paste and swallow
- Infuse in a tea of warm non-dairy milk, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel
- Add to a smoothie, juice, or protein shake
- Make into gummies or balls by mixing with honey, nut butter, shredded coconut
The powder has a bitter, astringent taste that some people dislike. Combining it with spices, sweeteners, or milk helps improve palatability.
You can also take triphala tablets if the taste is unbearable. Just be sure to buy a brand that uses whole fruit powder without additives or "standardized" extracts.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Triphala powder is very safe for most people when used at normal dosages. Mild digestive upset may occur at first as the bowel adjusts.
Some people experience increased bowel movements, gas, bloating or loose stools - usually mild and temporary. Lowering the dose can help minimize side effects.
Rare allergic reactions are possible to any herb or food. Discontinue use if any hypersensitivity reaction occurs.
Triphala is not recommended in pregnancy due to potential uterine stimulation. People with digestion issues like GERD or ulcers should consult their doctor before using.
Certain medications may interact with triphala as well, so check with your pharmacist about potential interactions, especially blood thinners like warfarin or anti-diabetes drugs.
Can I take triphala everyday?
Yes, triphala powder can be taken daily for general health maintenance, prevention, and chronic conditions. Effects seem to build over time with sustained use. It's best to cycle 5-6 days on, 1-2 days off.
Is triphala good for weight loss?
Yes, preliminary research shows triphala may aid weight loss in a few ways - by improving digestion and nutrient absorption, balancing blood sugar, lowering cholesterol, and through its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. More studies are underway.
What's the difference between triphala tablets and powder?
Tablets provide standardization and convenience, but may use extracted compounds instead of whole fruits. The powder ensures you get all the synergistic compounds and provides flexibility with dosing. Powder is considered more traditional and potent.
Can I give triphala to my kids?
Triphala is generally not recommended for children except under medical supervision due to lack of safety data. For older teens it can be used cautiously at reduced dosages if your Ayurvedic practitioner approves.
Is it okay to drink milk after taking triphala?
Most Ayurvedic practitioners advise against combining triphala with milk or yogurt. Dairy is thought to interfere with the cleansing process. Have dairy at least 2 hours separate from your triphala dose.
Can triphala be used long term?
Yes, triphala powder can safely be used for extended periods of time due to its stellar safety record and broad health benefits. As a rejuvenating Rasayana it was designed for regular use. Of course, occasional breaks from any supplement are wise.
Triphala powder is a traditional Ayurvedic formula that has withstood the test of time. Modern science now backs up many of its wide-ranging therapeutic benefits for health and longevity.
With uses spanning digestive, oral, ocular, cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and neuronal health - triphala fully lives up to its billing as a Rasayana or rejuvenator.
Given its exceptional safety profile and versatility, triphala is considered a foundational botanical that virtually everyone can benefit from.