What Is Triphala?
A blend of three botanicals, triphala is a popular remedy in ayurveda (the traditional medicine in India). Triphala contains dried and powdered fruits of amla (Emblica officinalis), myrobalan (Terminalia chebula), and belleric myrobalan (Terminalia belerica), all of which are medicinal plants.
Considered a gentle laxative, triphala is often used to stimulate digestive health, improve liver and gallbladder function, boost immunity, ease inflammation, and manage chronic conditions like asthma. It's also commonly found in supplements that claim to detox or cleanse your system.
The Health Effects of Triphala
Test-tube studies have suggested that triphala offers antioxidant, bacteria-killing, and immune-enhancing benefits. And in animal-based research, scientists have shown that the herbal blend may help keep cholesterol in check.
In other studies on animals, triphala has demonstrated anti-cancer effects. A report published in 2008, for instance, found that feeding triphala to mice helped suppress the growth of pancreatic cancer cells. It's important to remember, though, that animal studies do not prove equal effectiveness in humans.
Triphala for Detox
Although ayurvedic practitioners often use triphala to promote the cleansing of toxins from the body, there's no clinical-trial-based evidence that the formula can act as a detox or weight loss supplement.
How to Use It
Choose triphala capsules (available at health food stores) instead of the powdered form. If you're using triphala to treat constipation, keep in mind that it's generally safe to take triphala on a longer-term basis (unlike other, harsher laxatives).
In some cases, triphala may trigger gastrointestinal side effects such as gas, stomach upset, and diarrhea.
Jagetia GC, Malagi KJ, Baliga MS, Venkatesh P, Veruva RR. "Triphala, an ayurvedic rasayana drug, protects mice against radiation-induced lethality by free-radical scavenging." Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 2004 10(6):971-8.
Rasool M, Sabina EP. "Antiinflammatory effect of the Indian Ayurvedic herbal formulation Triphala on adjuvant-induced arthritis in mice." Phytotherapy Research 2007 21(9):889-94.
Shi Y, Sahu RP, Srivastava SK. "Triphala inhibits both in vitro and in vivo xenograft growth of pancreatic tumor cells by inducing apoptosis." BMC Cancer 2008 10;8:294.
Srikumar R, Jeya Parthasarathy N, Sheela Devi R. "Immunomodulatory activity of triphala on neutrophil functions." Biological & Pharmaceutical Bulletin 2005 28(8):1398-403.