Triphala is an herbal preparation that has been used for over two thousand years in Ayurvedic medicine. Traditionally used for maintaining general digestive health, it’s often prescribed as a mild laxative. However it has many other important benefits.
The name comes from combining the Sanskrit words “tri” meaning three, “phala” meaning fruit as it is comprised of the Indian fruits amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki.
Amalaki or Amla, (emblica officinalis) is a key ingredient in many Ayurvedic products. It has been shown to help lower cholesterol and is very high in vitamin C. It is used either alone or in combination with other plants to treat colds and fever as well as being a diuretic, digestive, laxative, liver tonic, restorative and anti-inflammatory agent. While appropriate for all doshas it’s particularly effective for balancing Pitta. (Click here to read our article about the doshas)
Haritaki (terminalia chebula) is known as the Tibetan "king of medicine" and is believed to have beneficial effects on the heart and the brain and in India and some other countries is used to treat dementia and diabetes. It is an anti-inflammatory and is particularly calming to the Vata dosha.
Bibhitaki (terminalia belerica) is another powerful ancient rejuvenator with detoxifying qualities on the blood, muscles, and fatty tissue of the body. Bibhitaki is very useful with conditions involving excess mucous in the system and is also good for quality bone formation. In Ayurveda it is traditionally used to treat high blood pressure and diabetes. This fruit is known as “the one who keeps away disease” owing its name to the multiple benefits it has on Kapha dosha.
Tripahala to fight cancer:
A 2015 study looked at the antiproliferative (stops the growth of cancer cells) and proapoptotic (encouraging the programmed cell death of cancer cells) effects of triphala on colon cancer cells and human colon cancer stem cells. They found that the methanol extract of triphala contains a variety of phenolics including naringin, quercetin, homoorientin, and isorhamnetin.
Overall, they found that the triphala extract was, in fact, able to suppress the spread of and induce cell death of human colon cancer stem cells making it worthy of further research as a natural anticancer treatment
The gallic acid in triphala has been shown in scientific research to have promising anticancer activity, specifically when it comes to prostate cancer cells.Studies have also shown that it has the ability to kill tumour cells but spare normal cells making it very promising as a potential anticancer drug.
However these are not definitive studies and more research is required.
Triphala for weight loss:
Studies in both mice and humans have shown a significant reduction in body weight and percentage of body fat after taking Tripahala supplements daily. There are many antioxidants and other properties in Triphala which have a positive effect on metabolic health and discourage obesity.
Triphala for cholesterol:
Cholesterol is a naturally occurring substance made by the liver and required by the body for the proper function of cells, nerves and hormones. As a result, cholesterol is actually crucial in healthy amounts, but when it’s too high, it can be problematic. Cholesterol can combine with fat, calcium and other substances in the blood to form plaque. Plaque then slowly builds up and hardens in the arteries, causing them to narrow. This buildup of plaque, a condition called atherosclerosis, can lead to heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Triphala can reduce cholesterol levels and arterial plaque. A study published in the Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan showed that total cholesterol as well as LDL (“bad cholesterol”) were significantly reduced in animal subjects with high cholesterol that were treated with triphala. One of its three fruits, bibhitaki, has also been shown by researchers to inhibit atherosclerosis plaque progression.
Triphala is available to buy, in powder form, at our online Yoga Shop. Click here to visit the shop.