What is Triphala?

Triphala is a polyherbal formulation used for centuries in Ayurveda, the Indian system of medicine. It comes under the category of a Rasayana drug. Triphala is made from a mixture of powders in dried form, which include three fruits (hence the name Tri or three, and phala or fruits). The ingredients are all fruits native to India: Bibhitaki (Terminalia Belerica), Amalaki (Emblica Officinalis, also known as Amla), and haritaki (Terminalia chebula) in equal proportions. 

Triphala has been in use in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries. The three of the fruits which are used to prepare Triphala churna are highly nutritious and serves a variety of benefits. According to Ayurveda, Triphala is used as a Tridoshic Rasayana, which helps maintain the balance between all the doshas and promotes rejuvenation of the three major constitutional elements of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha in maintaining a healthy human life. 

See: Ayurvedic treatment for dental bone loss

Triphala powder or capsules ingredients

Composition of Triphala capsules:

It is the mixture of three equal proportions of potent herbs: Amla, Harde, and Bahera. The chemical composition of these three potential herbs is explained as follows:

1. Amla as Emblica Officinalis Garetn. (Family: Euphorbiaceae)

             Chemical composition: The fruits contain fixed oil, vitamin C, essential oils, and tannins.

2. Harde as Terminalia chebula (Family: Combretaceae)

             Chemical composition: The fruits contain 30% of tannins, chebulic, and gallic acid.

3. Bahera as Terminalia belerica Linn. (Family: Combretaceae)

            Chemical composition: The fruits contain 17% tannins, gallotannic acid, and resins.

See: Amla Health Benefits & Side Effects

Triphala health benefits

Health benefits of consuming Triphala powder or capsules:

1.      Triphala as an anti-cancer drug: Triphala capsules showed a substantial cytotoxic effect against several cancer cell lines, including breast cancer. It is also known to potentiate the effects of various anti-cancer agents like paclitaxel and Carboplatin. Gallic acid, a major constituent of Triphala, is known to induce apoptosis of cancer cells by elevating the levels of tumor suppressor genes P53 and Caspase 3.1,2.

2.  Triphala for stress: Triphala is a potent antioxidant that can reduce the metabolic changes which occur during stress. Triphala, with its antioxidant and cell-mediated immune response, can help reduce the levels of stress hormones. Thus showing its anti-stress activity.1.

3. As an antimicrobial agent: Triphala constitutes tannins and phenolic rich compounds. These compounds have been known to provide inhibitory activity on microbial growth. The inhibition is carried out by denaturing proteins and disrupting the bacterial membrane. Triphala is active against a variety of microbes like Streptococcus mutans, Lactobacillus, and many others.1. 

4.  Oral health: Triphala's three important constituents are effective against various oral health problems like tooth decay (dental caries), gingivitis, bleeding gums, and stomatitis. The Triphala extract prevents plaque formation by prohibiting the sucrose- induced glucan aggregation of the bacteria. This inhibition prevents colonization of the bacteria on the surface of the tooth. Bacterial colonization on the tooth surface may release acids as by-products, which can cause dental caries by demineralization and breakdown of the tooth enamel. Triphala capsules help prevent the deposition of acids on the surface of the tooth.4.

5.  Skin protectant: Consuming Triphala capsules can provide a protective effect on the epidermis of the skin and over the dermal fibroblasts. The cells present in the dermis layer of the skin called dermal fibroblasts help in the recovery of the skin cells from damage. Triphala capsules also enhance the production of collagen helps in rebuilding skin protein and retaining moisture in the skin.5.

6.  Triphala in gastrointestinal health: Research studies have shown that Triphala exerted a gastroprotective effect. The constituents present in Triphala extract replenished the depleted protein in the intestinal villi through its regenerative effect and decreased the levels of myeloperoxidase and xanthine oxidase through its antioxidant effects in the intestinal epithelium. It also stimulates the production of glutathione and phospholipids levels that reduce the levels of oxidative stress.7.

7.      Arthritis and gout: Triphala consumption has shown reduced expression of inflammatory mediators by activating the NF-κB pathway, which inhibits the release of inflammatory mediators such as interleukins and COX-2. Studies have also reported that Triphala, through its antioxidant effects, decreases the lipid peroxidation that occurs in arthritis.1.

8.   Type 2 diabetes: Triphala has the potential of inhibiting pancreatic glycolytic enzymes like alpha-amylase and alpha-glucosidase. These enzymes are responsible for breaking down larger polysaccharides molecules into glucose molecules. Glucose is absorbed into the bloodstream, raising the blood glucose levels. Triphala capsules help decrease the absorption of excess glucose into the blood, thereby reducing blood glucose levels.8. 

9.  Digestive health: Triphala capsules can help support the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut while inhibiting the growth of harmful bacteria. It maintains a good ratio of intestinal bacteria and promotes digestive function.7.

10. Cardiovascular health - Triphala churna consisting of Haritaki, has the potential to reduce the levels of total cholesterol by causing a decrease in the levels of lipids. The constituents of Haritaki, like saponins, gallic acid, tannins, and chebulinic acid, helps produce hypolipidemic effects. They help lower the levels of very-low-density lipoprotein, land free fatty acid levels in the blood. Triphala also addresses imbalances in the gastrointestinal tract and cardiovascular system.6.

See: Ayurveda treatments to prevent and reverse Diabetes Mellitus

Studies in Triphala for health benefits

According to the Ayurveda, Triphala has the properties to deal with an almost encyclopedic assortment of health conditions. Some of the benefits can be attributed to Triphala's laxative effect, which proponents indicate can"cleanse the system." Based on how much is prescribed, Triphala might be utilized as bowel tonic in lower doses, relieving gas and promoting digestion, or a purgative (strong laxative) at higher doses. Beyond its impact on the gastrointestinal tract, Triphala is thought to relieve stress, control diabetes, encourage weight loss, decrease cholesterol, relieve inflammation, and treat many different fungal and bacterial infections. Up to now, there are few studies that strongly support these claims, frequently because the studies are small or poorly designed. Nevertheless, there have been some promising findings lately that warrant additional investigation.

Weight Loss: According to a 2012 research at Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, animals fed a high-fat diet experienced weight loss and a decrease in high cholesterol when supplemented with Triphala. The researchers concluded that, after ten months of usage, mice prescribed a daily dose of Triphala had reduced body fat, body fat, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and"poor" LDL cholesterol compared to untreated mice. Additionally, the treated mice experienced an increase in"good" HDL cholesterol, together with improvements in their liver enzymes and oral glucose tolerance (implying Triphala may assist in the control of type 2 diabetes). Whether the same can happen in humans is yet to be proven.

Dental Diseases: Just like many multi-herbal medications, it's unknown that components in Triphala are bioactive. Quite a few test-tube studies have revealed that Triphala exerts anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties, even though these kinds of results rarely translate to the same level of effect in people. One area where Triphala can offer benefits is in dental health, including the reduction of plaque and the avoidance of gum disease and cavities.

A 2016 research at the Journal of Periodontology reported that adults prescribed a twice-daily Triphala mouthwash for 60 days had a larger reduction in oral plaque, oral bacteria, and gingivitis than those supplied a placebo. Similar research at Oral Health and Preventive Dentistry reasoned that Triphala mouthwash demonstrated equivalent effectiveness in preventing cavities as the chlorhexidine gluconate germicidal mouthwash.

Cataracts: The fruits used in Triphala are full of vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols, all of which are potent antioxidants. It's been suggested by neutralizing free radicals that damage cells at the molecular level, the antioxidants in Triphala may slow or stop the growth of certain aging-related diseases. One such instance is cataracts.

A 2011 research in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine investigated the impact of Triphala in nine-day-old rat pups with chemically-induced cataracts. The researchers gave half of the rats were given Triphala before the induction, and the other half were left untreated. At the conclusion of the study, only 20 percent of the pretreated mice had cataracts, while 100 percent of the treated mice did. The results imply that Triphala may help in the prevention of additional aging-related eye disorders, including macular degeneration. Additional research is needed.



See: Keto diet benefits for weight loss, diabetes & PCOS

Triphala side effects

Triphala potential side effects:

Since Triphala acts as a mild laxative, it can cause gastrointestinal side effects, such as gas, stomach upset, cramps, and nausea. Based on the preparation used, side effects such as these may occur with much smaller doses.

If you experience diarrhea or other negative effects, you can try reducing the dose when the symptoms are mild. If they don't improve, you should stop taking Triphala altogether. The long-term safety of Triphala is not known due to variations in the formula where the treatment is made. Doses can vary from one preparation to another. Some practitioners might even include herbs and other components based on the proposed use. Therefore, it is tough to ascertain the long-term safety of Triphala or how it may interact with other drugs.

See: Ayurvedic Diet

Triphala dosage

Triphala Dosage: Triphala can now be found on several pharmacy shelves in supplement, powdered, or liquid forms. It is also possible to buy the products online or in shops specializing in Ayurvedic healing. Capsules and tablets are undoubtedly the simplest preparation to use as the dose are standardized. That said, the dose does not always confer the exact breakdown of ingredients. While most Triphala supplements are offered in 500-milligram (mg), the dose refers to the amount of extract used as opposed to the individual ingredients. The issue with this is the infusion formula can vary based on which provider a manufacturer uses. This may not pose any substantial risks, but it does demonstrate how variable a product Triphala can be.

There are no universal guidelines for the right use of Triphala, though most manufacturers will recommend a couple of tablets or capsules daily. As a guideline, never use more than the recommended dose on the product label. Triphala juice can be mixed with water to make a mouthwash. The powder may be blended with coconut or coconut oil to be used in hair and scalp treatments. When measuring Triphala powder or powder, always use a suitable teaspoon as opposed to a dining utensil. Triphala tinctures and extracts are generally dispensed with an eyedropper.

See: Chyawanprash Health Benefits & Ingredients

Summary

Triphala capsule is a herbal Ayurvedic supplement that has numerous properties like anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial property. Triphala can help treat numerous benefits by boosting immunity, promoting health, and helping the body fight chronic diseases. 

See: Ayurvedic herbs for immune system

References

1. Peterson CT, Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2017;23(8):607–614. DOI:10.1089/acm.2017.0083

2. Prasad, Sahdeo & Srivastava, Sanjay. (2020). Oxidative Stress and Cancer: Chemopreventive and Therapeutic Role of Triphala. Antioxidants. 9. 72. 10.3390/antiox9010072. 

3. Chouhan, Bali & Kumawat, Ramesh & Kotecha, Mita & Ramamurthy, A & Nathani, Sumit. (2013). Triphala: A comprehensive ayurvedic review. International Journal of Research in Ayurveda & Pharmacy. 4. 612-617. 10.7897/2277-4343.04433. 

4. Prakash S, Shelke AU. Role of Triphala in dentistry. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2014;18(2):132–135. DOI:10.4103/0972-124X.131299

5. A.R. Pradeep  Deepak Kumar Suke  Santosh S. Martande  Sonender Pal Singh  Kanika Nagpal  Savitha B. Naik, Triphala, a New Herbal Mouthwash for the Treatment of Gingivitis: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial, First published:01 November 2016 https://doi.org/10.1902/jop.2016.130406

6. Varma SR, Sivaprakasam TO, Mishra A, et al. Protective Effects of Triphala on Dermal Fibroblasts and Human Keratinocytes. PLoS One. 2016;11(1):e0145921. Published 2016 Jan 5. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0145921

7. Mukherjee, Pulok & Rai, Sujay & Bhattacharyya, Sauvik & Debnath, Pratip & Biswas, Tuhin & Jana, Utpalendu & Pandit, Srikanta & Saha, Bishnu & PAUL, PRADIP. (2006). Clinical Study of 'Triphala' – A Well Known Phytomedicine from India. Iranian Journal of Pharmacology & Therapeutics (ISSN: 1735-2657) Vol 5 Num 1. 5. 

8. Tarasiuk A, Mosińska P, Fichna J. Triphala: current applications and new perspectives on the treatment of functional gastrointestinal disorders. Chin Med. 2018; 13:39. Published 2018 Jul 18. DOI:10.1186/s13020-018-0197-6

9. Rajan SS, Antony S. Hypoglycemic effect of Triphala on selected non-insulin dependent Diabetes mellitus subjects. Anc Sci Life. 2008;27(3):45–49.

10. Ratha KK, Joshi GC. Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan) and its varieties. Ayu. 2013 Jul-Sep;34(3):331-4. DOI:10.4103/0974-8520.123139.

11. Petersen CT, Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Aug 1;23(8):607-14. DOI:10.1089/acm.2017.0083.

See: Ayurveda for Prediabetes

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