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Triphala – Health Benefits, Uses, and Side Effects

Triphala is the oldest known herbal remedy being used in Indian system of medicine.

The name Triphala comes from “Tri” means three and “phala” means Fruit as it is prepared by mixing dried powder of three different fruits referred as Rasayana drugs.

These are the agents that have the ability to prevent disease and promote health, longevity and immune system.

Constituents of Triphala:

Triphala is the herbal remedy prepared by the combination of three dried fruits; Terminalia chebula (Haritaki), Terminalia belarica (Bibhitaki) and Emblica officinalis (Amalaki) in equal amounts according to Ayurvedic Formulary of India (AFI).

These fruits have their own medicinal benefits and combination of all these has made triphala a wonderful herbal remedy.

  • Emblica officinalis commonly known as Amla and Indian Gooseberry is effective as an antimicrobial, insecticidal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, digestive, antidiabetic agent as well as protective for heart, liver and promotes immunity.
  • Terminalia chebula commonly known as harada or haritaki is antidiabetic, antinflammatroy, effective in constipation and dementia (memory loss).
  • Terminalia bellirica referred as Bibhitaki has detoxifying activity and is found to be effective in blood pressure, diabetes and rheumatism.

Studies have shown that Triphala is rich in Phytochemicals which are biologically active chemical constituents present in the plants and exert beneficial effects on humans due to their protective and disease preventive property.

Triphala has 4 major constituents such as Gallic acid, tannic acid, syringic acid and epicatechin along with Vitamin C and Carbohydrates.

Health Benefits of Triphala:

Triphala is native to Indian subcontinent and is in use in Ayurveda Medicine since 1000 years. There is a saying “Taking Triphala daily makes a person live for 100 years without aging and disease”.

  • Antioxidant

Triphala being the combination of 3 herbs is a strong Antioxidant. Antioxidants are the compounds that inhibit oxidation which is a process where free radicals are generated that build up the oxidative stress and damage human cells.

Antioxidants act by neutralizing these harmful molecules (free radicals) which are produced in response to negative factors like smoking, environmental, emotional and physical stress, disease conditions, alcohol abuse etc.

thus exhibiting the positive impact on health and has shown to reduce the risk of chronic conditions like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis, obesity and aging.

  • Anti-inflammatory & Anti-arthritis

Triphala being strong antioxidant and high phenol content is an excellent anti-inflammatory agent.

Due to this property it is effective in arthritis which is the inflammation of joints causing stiffness and pain.

It reduces the inflammation and prevents the bone breakdown.

  • Gastrointestinal Health

Triphala is widely used for improving gastrointestinal health by treating problems like constipation, flatulence, acidity and abdominal pain.

Its protective effect on gastric mucosa has made it effective in treating/ preventing ulcers (Peterson et al, 2017). It is a natural toner for digestive system.

  • Antidiabetic

Diabetes is the elevation of blood glucose levels. Triphla is found to be effective in reducing the raised glucose level in humans.

A study (2008) revealed that supplemtation with Triphala for 45 days showed the improvement in blood profile of patients by significant reduction in blood glucose levels.

Triphala is helpful for protecting the patients with diabetes or on risk of diabetes by inhibiting the process of glycation.

Glycation is the bonding of sugar to proteins which is harmful and may lead to nerve damage and blindness. Triphala inhibits the glycation of proteins thus inducing protective effect on diabetic patients.

  • Cardiovascular Health

Triphala is found to be effective in reducing blood cholesterol levels thus reducing the incidence of atherosclerosis (cholesterol accumulation in arteries) which may lead to heart attack and stroke.

In a study (2007), on rats fed with cholesterol diet, triphala was found to be effective in reducing the cholesterol, lipids and fatty acid levels.

  • Antimicrobial

It has shown to possess antibacterial and antifungal activity. Triphala is considered to be the broad spectrum antimicrobial agent.

  • Anti- Stress

Stress is the feeling of unpleasantness and emotional and physical tension. Triphala is found to be effective in reducing stress and improves the wellbeing of an individual.

A Study (2007) was carried out to examine the effect of Triphala on cold stress in albino rats.

Cold stress is caused when body temperature falls below 18C causing tissue damage and may be fatal.

This may lead to behavioral changes. Oral administration of Triphala was found to be protective against stress and prevented the stress induced behavioral changes.

  • Anti-Obesity

Triphala being detoxifying agent is effective in reducing body fats and helps in weight loss.

Study has shown that a group treated with triphala lost 5kg in 12weeks in a controlled trial as compared to the control group (Peterson et al, 2017).

Individuals taking triphala showed significant reduction in weight and hip and waist circumference as compared to the placebo group, another study revealed.

This is due to the antioxidant and anti hyperlipidemic property of triphala which discourages obesity.

  • Anti-cancer

Triphala has shown to reduce the rapid multiplication of cells and causes cancer cell death thereby preventing the development of cancer.

Phenolic compounds, tannins, and flavonoids present in triphala exert anticancer activity.

Its anticancer effects has been studied on prostate, colon and breast cancer and it can be considered as a novel anticancer agent.

  • Oral health

Triphala may be useful in improving oral hygiene due to its antimicrobial properties.

It reduces oral bacteria, plaque, tooth decay and inflammation of gums.

  • Healthy eyes & Skin

Triphala being rich in Vitmain C and high antioxidant activity is useful in promoting healthy eys and skin.

Side Effects of Triphala:

Triphala is effective and beneficial in improving health without any serious side effects. It may be taken with care or avoided in certain cases.

  • Triphala ingestion may lead to gastrointestinal side effects especially in high doses as diarrhea and loose stools which leads to dehydration.
  • It is shown to have effects on platelets function i.e. clotting of blood so should not be taken with blood thinning medicines as it may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • Pregnancy & Lactation: It should not be used during pregnancy and lactation due to limited on no studies of effectiveness in this population.

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