Triphala–A Pill for All Ills

Uma Shankari By Uma Shankari, 27th Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Alternative Medicine

If you were to go to a distant planet and you were allowed only one medicine to take with you, you would do well to stock up on Triphala reputed to be a universal panacea.

What is Triphala?

If you were to go to a distant planet and you were allowed only one medicine to take with you, you would do well to stock up on Triphala. Triphala (literally, three fruits; tri-three, phala-fruits) is a great rejuvenator and is a synergistic combination of three fruits or herbs, namely Harada (haritaki–Terminalia chebula), Amla (Indian gooseberry–Emblica officinalis) and Behada (bibhitaki–Terminalia belerica).

To appreciate how Triphala functions in our body, we must understand one of the basic tenets of Ayurveda: the tridosha theory.

Ayurveda: the tridosha theory.

The Tridoshas (similar to the 'humour' of ancient Western physiology)

All matter is considered to have been composed of panchabhootas or five elements (ether, air, fire, water, air) but only living matter has the three doshas or tridosha - the three forces which govern all biological processes. The names of the three doshas are vata, pitta, and kapha. Diseases are said to arise when these forces are out of balance. The doshas are the three primary energetic principles which regulate all physiological and psychological process in the living organism. From the most rudimentary cellular process to the most complex aspects of biological functionality, the doshas regulate everything that occurs, changes and decays.

In all, the three doshas govern all the strategic activities of our lives:
• Catatabolism (vata)
• Metabolism (pitta)
• Anabolism (kapha)

The relative proportions of the doshas determine the constitutional type of the individual, the diseases that afflict them and the medicines that will be most efficacious — all are dependent on the three doshas.

Triphala, suitable for all body doshas

Triphala can be used on all body dosha (kapha, vata and pitta) types and restore balance to all body types. Triphala is a balanced blend of Harada (haritaki), Amla (amalaki) and Behada (vibhitaki), each balancing vata, pitta and kapha, respectively.

According to the ancient Ayurveda texts, Triphala creates and maintains a healthy digestive tract, and has a gentle laxative effect. This formula from the treasured 5000-year-old Indian health care tradition helps reduce serum cholesterol and maintain healthy lipid levels throughout body. It promotes good colon health and acts as a laxative without causing cramps or irritation. It gently stimulates the intestinal walls and restores tone to the colon, thus helping in the elimination and detoxification process. Triphala improves circulation, and regulates high blood pressure.

Triphala is a laxative with astringent, lubricant, antiparasitical, antispasmodic and nervine properties. It is therefore used to treat acute and chronic constipation, nervousness, anxiety and feelings of physical heaviness.

Triphala is not a mere laxative; it stimulates bile secretion and effectively detoxifies the liver. It nourishes the eyes and skin.

The Uses of Haritaki/Harada or Terminalia chebula

  • Tibetans so revere Harada that Terminalia Chebula, or black myrobalan, is depicted in the hand of the "Medicine Buddha" in sacred paintings. It is astringent and salty and is balancing for the vata dosha.

  • There is quite an extensive body of research on Haritaki by scientists in universities throughout the world. Researchers have tested the anti-bacterial action of Haritaki on a bacteria called Helicobactor Pylori (International Journal of Cardiology, 1988).

  • Another research showed that this formula helps fight hepatic amoebiasis (Journal of Ethno Pharmacology, 1996) and improves body's immune response.

  • Scientists suggest Triphala may help fight the growth of cancer or other aberrant cells because Triphala can repair that damage before it manifests as a disease.(Food Chemistry Toxicology, 2002). One study (Food Chemistry Toxicology, 2002) showed that Triphala can repair damaged tissues and has an antimutagenic effect in vitro. Terminalia Chebula is effective in treating the herpes simplex virus (HSV). Other preliminary studies show Terminalia Chebula has anti-tumor activity and a considerable effect in inhibiting the HIV virus.

  • Triphala can reduce the symptoms of radiation sickness as a study (Phytomedicine 2002) showed that Triphala provides a radio-protective effect in mice exposed to gamma-radiation.

  • Triphala reduces serum cholesterol and cholesterol of both the liver and aorta. Of the three constituents, Haritaki had the greatest effect on the cholesterol.

  • Triphala is one of the ingredients in herbal tooth powders and tooth pastes.
  • Terminalia Chebula is found useful for all eye diseases including the treatment of conjunctivitis, progressive myopia, the early stages of glaucoma and cataracts. For these conditions, it is taken daily both internally as described above, as well as externally as an eye wash. Steep one tablespoonful of the powder in an 8 ounce glass of water overnight. In the morning, strain the infusion through a clean cloth. The resultant tea is used to sprinkle over the eyes or used in an eyewash in an eye cup that can be readily purchased at most drug stores. Taken in this way for at least three months, Triphala becomes an herbal eye tonic. The Haritaki present in Triphala contains eye rejuvenation properties.

  • Terminalia Chebula is used for astringent purpose in hemorrhoids as well. Its decoction is used as gargle in oral ulcers, sore throat. Its powder is a good astringent dentrifice in loose gums, bleeding and ulceration in gums.

Nutrition of Terminalia Chebula

Compared with commercial apples the tissue (of Terminalia Chebula) contained 10·3 and 14·5 times more vitamin C and protein, respectively. Of the 14 macro- and micro-nutrients studied, the minimum Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for Se, K, Mn, Fe and Cu can be met (100, 63·5, 32, 30 and 28·5%, respectively) if 100 g of the raw fruit is eaten. Aspartic acid, glutamic acid, arginine, proline and lysine constituted 39·6, 8·6, 6·7, 6·4 and 5·0%, respectively, of the total amino acids. These results demonstrate that the chebulic myrobalan is highly nutritious and could be an important source of dietary supplement in vitamin C, energy, protein and mineral nutrients. (Source: ScienceDirect)

Benefits of Amalaki (Indian Gooseberry–Phyllanthus Emblica or Terminalia Emblica)

Amalaki, the second ingredient of Triphala, is known as a divine plant in the ayurvedic materia medica. Amalaki is cooling, highly nutritious, tonic, astringent and is a mild laxative. It contains absorbable minerals that nourish the skin, the blood and the whole body. Amalaki fruit contains the sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. Because it contains five out of the six tastes, it is balancing to all three doshas.

It is the highest known source of Vitamin C in nature. Because of its high content of Vitamin C, Amalaki is a powerful antioxidant. Because of its high content of Vitamin C, Amalaki is a powerful antioxidant. Scientific research shows that Amalaki is an extremely potent antioxidant, excellent at removing excess free radicals, which are at the basis of much degenerative disease and aging. Amalaki a powerful immunity-enhancer.

Amalaki helps purify toxins from the body, by enhancing food absorption. By enhancing digestion, it helps eliminate toxins from the body. It does this by strengthening and stimulating the liver. Amalaki also helps elimination and helps relieve constipation It has longevity-enhancing and disease-defying qualities.

Amalaki also strengthens the cardiovascular system. It nurtures the heart, blood and circulation. Being rich in Vitamin C, Amalaki improves assimilation of iron.

This fruit is also excellent for the skin. Because it detoxifies the liver, and cleanses the tissues of the skin and protects it from bacterial infection, it is very good for your complexion. It also moisturizes the skin, and is known to improve glow and luster.

Muscle tone is also improved by Amalaki. Because it enhances protein synthesis and strengthens the muscles, it contributes to lean muscle mass.

The hair, nails, teeth, and bones also benefit from Amalaki, because it helps improve absorption of calcium and other nutrients. It also helps prevent graying and thinning of the hair.

Indian gooseberry is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal tonic or rasayana called Chyawanprash. This ingredient is used in hair oils to promote hair growth. Because of the high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit, Amla shampoos and hair oil are traditionally believed to nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature grey hair.

Benefits of Vibhitaki (Terminalia bellerica)

Vibhitaki is rich in protein (40 percent) and oils (35 percent), and is particularly high in the omega 3 essential fatty acid, linoleic acid. Vibhitaki is its Sanskrit name, Terminalia Bellirica is the Latin name. Terminalia bellerica fruit is also used in Egyptian folk medicine.

Both Charaka Samhita and Sushruta Samhita mention Vibhitaki as a homeostatic, meaning that it helps create balance and pure blood in the body. In Ayurveda it is used as bitter, acrid, astringent, laxative, germicidal and antipyretic and is applied in a diverse range of conditions including cough, tuberculosis, eye diseases, dyspepsia, diarrhoea, dysentery, inflammation of the small intestine, biliousness, flatulence, liver disease and leprosy. It is also said to cleanse the blood and the voice and to promote hair growth.

Vibhitaki is excellent for balancing and nurturing the vocal chords and is beneficial for the eyes. Vibhitaki also nourishes the hair, and strengthens the hair root.

Vibhitaki is a strong laxative and is astringent, therefore, it can cleanse the intestines and can treat loose stools and kidney stones. It is balancing for the kapha dosha.


Alternative Medicine, Ayurveda, Phyllanthus Emblica, Terminalia Bellirica, Terminalia Chebula, Terminalia Emblica, Triphala, Vibhitaki

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author avatar Uma Shankari
I write on society, relationships, travel, health, nutrition and fitness.
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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
27th Nov 2013 (#)

how very wonder fllled is this..thank you..

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author avatar M G Singh
3rd Jan 2014 (#)

Very nice post. How effective it really is ?

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