Triphala is one of the most famous herbal compounds in Ayurveda. Literally translated, the word “triphala” means "three fruits"—with "tri" meaning "three" and "phala" meaning "fruit." Triphala contains three simple but powerful fruits: haritaki, amalaki, and bibhitaki.
According to the ancient texts of Ayurveda, when these three fruits are combined, they form a very powerful rasayana—a substance or practice known to promote long life and rejuvenation. Rasayanas also promote ojas—the finest product of digestion, which promotes health, creates luster in the skin, and rejuvenates the whole body.
A time-tested Ayurvedic go-to, triphala is best-known for helping with regularity, digestion, and assimilation. It’s also beneficial for your skin, eyes, immunity, and much more.
Triphala is the key ingredient in our popular Organic Triphala Rose formula and a major ingredient in Cholesterol Protection as well. Read on to learn all about triphala and what it can do for you—according to both the ancient Ayurvedic texts and modern scientific research.
How does triphala work? The benefits according to Ayurveda
Daily Detox & Cleansing
Triphala is powerful for digestion. It balances Apana Vata, the subdosha of Vata that governs the colon, lower abdomen, menstrual flow, and elimination. It’s even been shown to promote the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
For most people triphala is a mild laxative, and for that reason it is excellent for clearing toxins from the digestive system. In very rare cases it has a stronger laxative effect, but usually it is an ideal bowel cleanser precisely because of its mildness. In moderate doses it is gentle and detoxifies the body slowly.
Because triphala is gentle, you can take it for longer periods of time for a profoundly purifying effect. It goes deeper into the physiology and releases the toxins at a much deeper level.
Deep-Tissue Toxin Purification
According to Ayurveda, there are seven tissues (dhatus) in the body, and they form in a sequence. Starting with Rasa (the nutrient fluid derived from food), the tissue chain progresses to Rakta (blood), Mamsa (muscle), Meda (fat), Asthi (bone), Majja (bone marrow) and Shukra (reproductive fluid) in a chain of reactions that is sequential and orderly. Organic Triphala Rose cleanses toxins up to, and including, the fat tissue, according to Maharishi Ayurveda. This is a much deeper effect than just cleansing the bowel. As described by Ayurvedic texts, triphala cleanses toxins from the nutrient fluid, the blood, the muscle, and the fat tissues if used for a long enough time.
Because it detoxifies your blood, muscle, and fat tissues, triphala is excellent for helping to prevent skin imbalances. Triphala also promotes healthy cholesterol levels, already within a normal range.
Repair & Reset
On the finest level, triphala can repair any damage that has occurred in the intelligence of nature that governs the transformation from one tissue to the next. It is in the gap between the tissues that the intelligence of nature operates, and if there is any damage, triphala can repair and reset the chain to enable proper transformation of one tissue to the next. That's what makes it such a powerful rasayana! Also, it has two of the three major herbs contained in Maharishi Amrit Kalash, which is the most highly refined and rejuvenating rasayana of all.
Triphala ingredients and research
Now that you know some of the basic benefits of triphala, let’s explore the individual ingredients that make this botanical so powerful.
Haritaki (chebulic myrobalan) - A multifaceted fruit
Haritaki (Sanskrit, pronounced har-ee'-tuck-ee), or Terminalia Chebula/Chebulic Myrobalan (Latin) is mentioned in almost all of the Ayurvedic textbooks. Charaka (the author of the Charaka Samhita) mentions that it's a rasayana for the eyes and skin as well as being excellent for the digestive system and nutrient absorption. Haritaki is also cardio-preventive and helps to promote heart health.
On the finest level, haritaki cleanses your body’s macro and microcirculatory channels, or shrotas. The Bhavprakash Nigantu, an Ayurvedic text on herbal science, mentions that haritaki is a yogavahini, which means that it cleanses the channels, is absorbed quickly by the body, and enhances mental clarity and memory.
Haritaki is a medhya fruit, which means that it enhances coordination among the mental functions of dhi (acquisition of knowledge), dhriti (retention of knowledge), and smriti (recall of knowledge or memory). It’s also good for the health of the spleen and liver, and supports the immune system.
Amalaki (amla) - An antioxidant digestive
Amalaki, or amla, is known as a divine plant in the Ayurvedic materia medica. The Charaka Samhita says, "Amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs." Amalaki fruit is sweet, sour, bitter, astringent, and pungent. Because it contains five out of the six Ayurvedic tastes (the only one missing is salty), it is balancing to all three doshas.
Amalaki has many excellent qualities. It helps purify toxins from your body by enhancing food absorption. It heightens digestion, but it’s not heating. That's why it's traditionally considered one of the best Ayurvedic herbs for balancing stomach acid. By enhancing digestion, it helps eliminate toxins from your body by strengthening and stimulating your liver. Amalaki also helps elimination and relieves occasional constipation.
Not just a powerful digestive tonic, amalaki is also an excellent source of vitamin C and is the most concentrated, absorbable source of the vitamin in the plant kingdom! It also contains other absorbable minerals that nourish the skin, the blood, and the whole body. Because of its high content of vitamin C, amalaki is a powerful antioxidant.
Bibhitaki (belleric myrobalan)
Bibhitaki, or belleric myrobalan, the final ingredient in triphala, is also famous in the classical Ayurvedic texts for its many good qualities. Charaka reports that it is ideal for pacifying both Pitta and Kapha, and that it cleanses the nutritive fluid (Rasa Dhatu), the blood, the muscle, and the fat tissue. Sushruta points out the bhedana effect of this fruit, which means that because of its heating quality it clears the clogged channels almost as if drilling them clear.
Cabbage Rose: The fourth ingredient in our Triphala
While the traditional triphala formula contains just the three fruits mentioned above, our Organic Triphala Rose includes an important fourth ingredient: cabbage rose. This fourth, cooling ingredient makes the formula more effective by addressing indigestion, flatulence, and constipation in the digestive system.
Research on Triphala benefits
- One study (Food Chemistry and Toxicology, 2002) showed that triphala had an antimutagenic effect in vitro. This is interesting, because as described in Ayurvedic texts, triphala can repair damage to the sequence of nature's intelligence in the "gaps" in the tissues, in the mechanics of transformation from one tissue to another. In other words, if a type of tissue forgets its connection to nature's intelligence, or is in some way damaged, triphala can repair that damage before it manifests as a disease. Scientists suggest this could have implications for fighting the growth of cancer or other aberrant cells.
- Another study (Phytomedicine 2002) showed that triphala had a radioprotective effect in mice exposed to gamma-radiation. It delayed the onset of mortality and reduced the symptoms of radiation sickness in one group significantly more than the control group, which did not take triphala. This demonstrates the ability of triphala to act as a radiation-protective agent when administered in the proper doses.
- A third study tested the effect of the three fruits used in triphala on cholesterol-induced hypercholesterolaemia and atherosclerosis. Although all three fruits used in the triphala formula were found to reduce serum cholesterol and cholesterol of both the liver and aorta, haritaki had the greatest effect.
Of course, these studies are limited in their ability to show the true effects of triphala, because they focus on the isolated ingredients. The effects are much more balanced and holistic when the whole herb or fruit is processed properly and combined with other herbs in the traditional manner.
There are many brands of triphala available, but at Maharishi Ayurveda, we are committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, and to upholding the authenticity of the Ayurvedic tradition no matter what the cost.
For instance, haritaki fruit comes in seven different varieties. While all are beneficial, the Vijaya variety is recommended by all the great Ayurvedic seers as the best variety to use, which in itself is rare, as not many fruits and herbs are universally acclaimed by all the seers. Vijaya is the only variety that is used in our triphala, because it is, quite simply, the best. But while it is the best, Vijaya is also the most rare. This scarcity makes it more expensive (in fact it is ten times the price of other varieties of haritaki).
Moreover, we only use fruits that are grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or exposure to environmental pollutants, and harvest them at their peak, when they are ripe on the tree.
Once the fruits are collected, at the processing factory they are sorted and tested to make sure the batch is of the right degree of ripeness and the proper quality. The fruits are washed and cleansed of traces of jute (jute bags are used to collect the fruit), dirt, and dust. They are tested for foreign material, heavy metals, and for bacteria before, during, and after processing. The processing methods we use do not destroy the natural properties of the fruits.
Diet and lifestyle tips to maximize triphala benefits
Here are some tips to help your body maximize the benefits from taking Organic Triphala Rose:
- Try to avoid eating foods that are grown with pesticides, and include chemical preservatives, emulsifiers, and additives of any kind. Eat fresh, organic foods whenever possible. Avoid eating packaged, frozen, canned, "fast" or leftover foods, as these foods are a little harder to digest and can create toxins if you don’t digest them properly.
- Avoid ice-cold drinks, as they dampen your digestive fire. Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day to help flush toxins. Eat sweet, juicy fruits daily if possible, as they help cleanse your rasa (nutrient fluid) and bowels.
- Try to get to bed by 10:00 p.m. each night so your body can rest during its natural purification period (from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.).
- Eat your main meal at midday, when your digestive fire is high. Eat lighter meals at breakfast and supper, when your digestion is not as strong. Save the harder-to-digest foods (such as yogurt, potatoes, or meats if you're not vegetarian) for your noon meal.
- Eat your meals at the same times each day. Eat only when you're hungry, and wait a full three hours after a main meal before snacking (this allows your food to digest properly). Take your time when you eat, and be sure to chew your food well. Avoid watching TV, reading, or working while you're eating, as they can lead to indigestion. Savor the flavors, colors, aromas, and textures of your food. Light, pleasant conversation with people you love is helpful for digestion. Avoid intense conversations or emotional topics while eating.
- Eat only until you are three-quarters full. Usually, it takes a few minutes for your brain to register that you're full, so if you eat until you're stuffed, you'll probably feel uncomfortable later on. Also, the digestive system needs some space to operate in, so stuffing yourself to the maximum will actually inhibit digestion. After eating, give yourself five minutes to sit quietly and get your digestion off to a good start.
- When you drink milk, boil it first with fresh ginger or a cardamom pod, or add a pinch each of ground ginger and cardamom to make it more digestible. Let the milk cool to the temperature you like and then drink it. Avoid combining milk with salty foods, fish, and foods of mixed taste. It digests well when you drink it alone between meals, or when you have it with other sweet foods, such as cereal, desserts, or toast.
There are myriad benefits of including triphala in your herbal regimen—especially for strengthening digestion, detox, and the immune system. For a deeper dive into the Ayurvedic take on boosting digestion, head to the Digestion Wellness Hub.