Triphala: A natural remedy for constipation and detoxification
(NaturalHealth365) If you suffer from sluggish bowel function (in a word, constipation) you have plenty of company – especially if you are of ‘mature years.’ The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that roughly 33 percent of all Americans over age 60 are affected by this uncomfortable condition. Fortunately, triphala – an ancient herbal remedy from the Ayurvedic healing system – just might be the ticket for relieving occasional constipation and promoting detoxification.
For close to 2,000 years, Ayurvedic healers have valued triphala for its ability to safely and effectively treat constipation. But triphala’s beneficial effects extend beyond gastrointestinal support. (as you’ll soon see.)
Triphala offers a natural way to cleanse and detoxify the body
Triphala, sometimes known as triphala churna, is made from three fruits – amalaki, haritaki and bibhitaki. (In fact, triphala means “three fruits” in Sanskrit).
Experts report that the fruits act synergistically on each other – meaning they are even more effective when combined than when taken individually.
Triphala not only detoxifies the body and promotes efficient elimination of waste, but it aids digestion by supporting the absorption of vitamins and minerals. By helping to create a feeling of satiety, triphala can help curb overeating and cut food cravings – thereby supporting healthy body weight.
It also facilitates healthy levels of cholesterol and triglycerides; plus, has been shown to lower harmful LDL cholesterol. And, triphala reduces inflammation, helps to regulate blood sugar, and even has anticancer effects.
Triphala is so revered in Ayurveda that it is classified as a rasayana – a substance with anti-aging and life-prolonging properties.
Triphala helps balance the three doshas
In Ayurveda, the term “dosha” applies to three specific mind-body types, known as vata, pitta and kapha. While the three doshas – which influence physical and mental traits – are present in everyone, every individual has one dominant dosha type.
Balancing the three doshas – which is necessary for health – may involve reducing the influence of one dosha while reinforcing the strength of another. This can be accomplished with foods, herbs, and even through experiences.
Between them, the three doshas contain the five elements of the natural world.
The vata dosha is represented by the shifting nature of wind and air. Pitta is characterized by the transformative energy of fire and water, and kapha embodies the binding nature of water and earth.
Triphala is valued for its ability to benefit all three doshas.
Each triphala component has unique benefits to combat constipation
Amalaki, botanically known as Emblica officinalis and also known as Indian gooseberry, is considered to have a “cooling” effect. It has anti-inflammatory, diuretic, detoxifying and laxative properties, and is believed to be particularly beneficial for the liver and immune system.
When it comes to promoting gastrointestinal function, amalaki’s “superpower” is that it supports intestinal repair. It is good for the pitta dosha.
Haritaki, or Terminalia chebula, is considered to have a “heating” nature – and to benefit the vata dosha.
With cleansing, detoxifying effects, haritaki can spark up sluggish metabolism, promote the efficient passage of waste out of the body and help with weight loss. The Buddha is sometimes pictured holding a haritaki fruit.
Bibhitaki, or Terminalia beleric, is believed to support the kapha dosha, and is sometimes used in Ayurveda to treat rheumatism. Strongly anti-inflammatory, bibhitaki has shown potential for fighting cardiovascular disease by inhibiting the formation of atherosclerotic plaque.
Bibhitaki benefits the gastrointestinal tract by helping to clear mucus from intestinal walls.
It’s official: Clinical studies showcase triphala’s therapeutic effects
Scientific studies have supported triphala’s laxative, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying effects.
In a study published in 2011 in Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine, an Ayurvedic herbal formulation featuring triphala was tested on 34 patients with functional constipation.
After 14 days, the researchers found the participants experienced a “significant” increase in bowel movements, with substantially less straining – and less time spent in the bathroom. The team credited triphala with being effective, safe and non-habit-forming.
In addition to relieving constipation, triphala may even benefit inflammatory bowel diseases.
An animal study showed that triphala had a “considerable and reliable” effect in reducing colitis, with the researchers reporting that it performed as well as mesalzine – a standard pharmaceutical drug.
The team credited triphala’s antioxidant effects, and – sure enough – laboratory analysis has shown that triphala is rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, including strongly antioxidant phenolic acids such as gallic, ellagic and chebulinic acids. These aggressively scavenge harmful free radicals and fight oxidative damage in cells and tissues.
Finally, cell studies have shown that triphala suppresses the proliferation of human colon cancer cells.
Naturally ease constipation with an ancient tea
Brewing powdered triphala into a tea is the most traditional way of taking it – and some say, the most effective, as the flavor is considered therapeutic.
Triphala contains five of the six tastes recognized in Ayurveda – lacking only “salty” as it contributes “sweet,” “sour,” “bitter,” “pungent” and “astringent.” (Because of its strong flavor, triphala tea is something of an acquired taste – although proponents report that they eventually enjoy it.)
If triphala tea definitely isn’t your “cup of tea,” you can take it in tablet form – on an empty stomach about half an hour before bedtime. Ayurvedic healers may recommend two 500 mg dosages of triphala two or three times a day.
(As always, you should consult a trusted physician before making any significant change to your lifestyle or supplement routine. And, any unexplained change in normal bowel habits calls for a prompt visit to your doctor).
The takeaway: effective and safe, triphala can be a valuable ally in easing occasional constipation and restoring healthy bowel function. Increasing dietary fiber intake, staying hydrated and getting sufficient exercise are other natural techniques you can use to stay “regular” – and cut the odds of being slowed down by unpleasant constipation.
Sources for this article include:
Food & Nutrition
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