The herbal combination of Embelica officinalis, Terminalia bellerica and Terminalia chebula has been used as a traditional medicinal herbal formula for rejuvenating and maintaining gut health and general body balancing for thousands of years in the Ayurvedic tradition of medicine. This combination is known in Ayurveda as Triphala.
Triphala formula is composed of three fruits including Terminalia chebula (Haritaki, Family: Combretaceae), Terminalia bellerica Roxb. (Bibhitaki, Family: Combretaceae) and Emblica officinalis (Amalaki or the Indian gooseberry). These three fruits when combined properly have been used as a universal panacea in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for daily balancing, rejuvenation, grounding and for good digestive health.
Triphala has been validated scientifically for its digestive balancing activities and healing effects.
Traditional medical practitioners use Triphala for daily health maintenance, gut health and for many ailments, but most importantly for various gastrointestinal disorders and to maintain digestive balancing. Scientific studies carried out in the past two decades have validated many of the ethnomedicinal claims and researches have shown Triphala to possess free radical scavenging, antioxidant, antiinflammatory, antipyretic, analgesic, antibacterial, antimutagenic, wound healing, anticariogenic, antistress, adaptogenic, hypoglycaemic, anticancer, chemoprotective, radioprotective and chemopreventive effects.
Clinical studies have also shown that Triphala was found to have good, natural laxative properties and also helps to improve appetite and reduce gastric hyperacidity. Studies have indicated that Triphala was effective in preventing dental caries and that this effect was equal to that of chlorhexidine. The current review addresses the validated pharmacological properties of Triphala.
Triphala is often prescribed in the first line treatment of many aliments and is used as a laxative, detoxifying agent and rejuvenator. To establish its clinical validity the present work was undertaken to evaluate its therapeutic potentials and adverse effects: The Triphala formulation was standardized by HPTLC (High Performance Thin Layer Chromatography), using Gallic acid as a marker and was subjected to clinical studies. After proper screening 160 patients of age between 16–52 years were selected for 45 days clinical study. The effectiveness of trial supplements were judged on the basis of the subjective and objective para-meters. It was observed that the amount, frequency and consistency of stool were improved in Triphala treated group. The changes of odor, mucous, flatulence, belching and abdominal pain where also taken into account. Well-being was assessed on the basis of the parameters like concentration, appetite, thirst, sleep, hyperacidity in arbitrary scoring system. Triphala was found to have good laxative property, help in management of hyperacidity and also improving appetite. No adverse effect was observed in the treated group when compared to normal patients. Triphala can be used effectively in the treatment of constipation and other gastric problems.
One theory of why Triphala is so effective as a cleanser and rejuvenator is because it works on a nano-level actually cleaning the “hairs” of the intestinal wall known as villi. These hairs when contaminated do not function properly to help assimilate nutrients from out “food juice” produced from the digestion of our food. Cleaning the villi can greatly increase the assimilation and utilization of food nutrients entering our blood stream via the villi that populate the intestines and are vital to our digestive processes. Other intestinal “cleansers” and laxatives may not be as deep-cleansing and thoroughly cleansing as is Triphala.
Another Study: Seventy obese subjects were randomized into four groups. Ayurvedic herbal treatments of triphala were given for three months while one group received a placebo. Physical, clinical and pathological investigations were carried out at regular intervals. A significant weight loss was observed in drug therapy groups when compared with the placebo. Body measurements such as skin fold thickness and hip and waist circumferences were significantly decreased. Decreases in serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels were observed. No side effects of any kind were observed during the treatment period.
Double-Blind Studies on Triphala as related to Weight Loss:
Efficacy of ‘Itrifal Saghir’, a combination of three medicinal plants in the treatment of obesity; A randomized controlled trial.
Department of surgery, Mostafa Khomeyni Hospital, Shahed University, Clinic Salamat, Iranian Traditional Medicine Group, Dashtestan, Pasdaran Ave, Tehran, Iran.
Herbal combination of Triphala has been widely used in traditional medicine and brings health benefits such as antioxidant effect and scavenger of hydroxyl radicals and nitric oxide radicals activity and substantiated in traditional medicine for anti-obesity. In this study we aimed to assess the efficacy of this herbal medicinal on reduction of weight and body mass index (BMI) of simple obese subjects in comparison with placebo. Obese subjects aged between 16 and 60 years were selected for 12-week, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial using a parallel design. Subjects were randomly assigned to take 5 grams of either the Triphala or placebo, 2 times daily for 12 weeks. Measures of body weight, BMI, waist circumference (WC), hip circumference (HC), were assessed at baseline and once every four weeks during the 12 week treatment period. The safety was evaluated by means of measuring the liver and kidney function. Compared to placebo group, in treatment group the mean difference of effective weight loss was 4.82Kg, the mean of decrease in waist circumference was 4 cm, and the mean decrease in hip circumference was 3. 2 cm in treated subjects. No adverse effects or significant changes in liver and kidney function tests were observed in both placebo and treated groups. Triphala appears to produce a positive effect on weight loss in obese subjects.
Study related to Triphala as a free radical scavenger:
Triphala …protects mice against radiation-induced lethality by free-radical scavenging.
J Altern Complement Med. 2004.
The effects of 10 mg/kg of triphala extract was studied on radiation-induced sickness and mortality in mice exposed to 7-12 Gray (Gy) of gamma-irradiation. Treatment of mice with triphala once daily for 5 consecutive days before irradiation delayed the onset of mortality and reduced the symptoms of radiation sickness when compared with the non-drug double distilled water treated irradiated controls (DDW). Triphala provided protection against both gastrointestinal and hemopoetic death. However, animals of both the triphala extract + irradiation and DDW + irradiation groups did not survive up to 30 days post-irradiation beyond 11 Gy irradiation. The LD50/30 was found to be 8.6 Gy for the DDW + irradiation group and 9.9 Gy for triphala extract + irradiation group. The administration of triphala resulted in an increase in the radiation tolerance by 1.4 Gy, and the dose reduction factor was found to be 1.15. To understand the mechanism of action of triphala, the free radical scavenging activity of the drug was evaluated. Triphala was found to scavenge (.)OH, O(2) (.) 2,2′-azinobis(3-ethylbenzthiazoline-6-sulfonate) diammonium salt (ABTS)(.+) and NO radicals in a dose dependent manner.
Experimental studies in the past decade have shown that Triphala is useful in the prevention of cancer and that it also possesses antineoplastic, radioprotective and chemoprotective effects.
- Chin J Integr Med. 2012 Dec;18(12):946-54. doi: 10.1007/s11655-012-1299-x. Epub 2012 Dec 13.
- IJPT, PULOK K. MUKHERJEE, SUJAY RAI, others, July 15, 2005; Revised May 14, 2006; Accepted May 20, 2006
- AYURVEDIC TREATMENT OF OBESITY: A RANDOMISED
DOUBLE-BLIND, PLACEBO-CONTROLLED CLINICAL TRIAL
PRAKASH PARAN, PRALHAD PATKI’ and BHUSHAN PATWARDHAN”
“Interdisciplinary School of Ayurvedic Medicine, University of Poona, Pune 411-007, Obesity Clinic, Nanal Hospital, Pune 411-004 and ‘Byramjee Jeejeebhoy Medical College, Pune 411-001 India.
- J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Dec;16(12):1301-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2009.0633.