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Before You Use Triphala for Digestive Health

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Updated October 28, 2013

Triphala is an herbal preparation long thought to promote general and digestive health. Here is a brief introduction to triphala to help you to decide if this supplement might be right for you. As with all over-the-counter remedies, be sure to check with your doctor before trying triphala.

What Is Triphala?

Triphala has long been a mainstay of ayurveda medicine, a traditional system of medicine originating in India. Triphala, translated as “three fruits”, consists of the fruits of the amalaki, bibhataki, and haritaki trees. To prepare triphala, the fruits are first dried, ground into powder form and then combined in three equal parts.

What Does Triphala do for the Body?

According the ayurvedic system, triphala is most generally used as an overall body tonic, thought to be effective in cleansing and detoxifying the system. Triphala’s benefits for digestive health are thought to include reducing abdominal pain, bloating, and most notably, serving as a laxative to ease constipation.

What Does the Research Say?

There does not seem to be much in the way of clinical trials regarding triphala and its effects on the digestive tract. Lab studies of triphala suggest that the preparation may have anti-inflammatory and antibiotic qualities. Triphala has also been shown to be an excellent source of antioxidants, which may provide some protection against cancer.

My Bottom Line

Although the lack of clinical research on triphala for digestive health prevents me from drawing any firm conclusions, I personally have respect for a remedy that has been used for thousands of years. The all-fruit nature of the supplement is also a plus because of its all-fruit nature, it may also have beneficial antioxidant properties. Due to triphala’s laxative nature, I would not recommend it to a person who suffers from diarrhea. If you suffer from constipation, it would appear that triphala offers some nice promise in terms of symptom relief.

Sources:

Birardar, Y., Jagatap, S., Khandelwal, K. & Singhania, S. "Exploring of Antimicrobial Activity of Triphala Mashi-an Ayurvedic Formulation. Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2008 5:107-133.

Naik, G. et.al. "In vitro antioxidant studies and free radical reactions of triphala, an ayurvedic formulation and its constituents." Phytotherapy Research 2005 19:582-586.

Rasool, M. & Sabina, E. Antiinflammatory effect of the Indian Ayurvedic herbal formulation Triphala on adjuvant-induced arthritis in mice. Phytotherapy Research 2007 21:889-894.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained on this site is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment rendered by a licensed physician. It is essential that you discuss with your doctor any symptoms or medical problems that you may be experiencing.

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