Friday, November 7, 2014

Triphala—to promote your health

You may not have heard of triphala until now. Years ago, I hadn’t either. I was having some trouble with my colon (chronic constipation with on again off again pain) and my acupuncturist recommended triphala. It is a digestive tonic, helping to tone and strengthen the lining of the colon. It is also a digestive aid, helping to gently purge waste and debris stagnated (stuck) within the large intestine. It is nontoxic and non-habit forming, making it an ideal supplement for anyone having digestive problems, most notably constipation.

Triphala is an Ayurvedic formula from India. Ayurvedic medicine is the most ancient form of medicine documented. It revolves around three different constitutions of the human body: pitta, vata, and kapha. Ayurvedic medicine has become more popular in recent years here in the West, and for good reason. Rather than go into a lengthy explanation of Ayurveda, I will simply tell you this approach offers a fascinating view of the body. If you are interested in finding out about yourself through the eyes of this ancient medical way, there are many books on the subject as well as a ton of information on the Internet.

You may be wondering what triphala has to do with your skin. The reason I have included it here is due to the constipation connection. If you have chronic or even occasional constipation, you are not eliminating toxins efficiently. If your body’s toxins are not being released on a daily basis, most notably from the large intestine, this can and will affect the health of your skin. If you suffer from problem skin and you also experience constipation, triphala may be able to help.

What is triphala? Triphala, which means three trees or fruits, is a preparation that combines three of India’s premium herbs into a traditional Ayurvedic formula; amalaki (emblica officinalis); haritaki (chedulic myrobalan); and bhibitaki (beleric myrobalan). It is so popular in India that doctors recommend it for many other maladies other than constipation. Although triphala is sold over the counter, it won’t be found in the grocery or drug store. I have only seen it in health food stores.

What results will I achieve? Triphala is traditionally used to treat constipation. Not only does it offer a laxative effect, but triphala also supports and actually strengthens the digestive tract, especially the lining of the colon walls. It has tremendous detoxifying qualities yet does not deplete the body of essential nutrients. In fact, triphala offers a wide range of beneficial vitamins and nutrients that add to the health of your entire system.

Purgative laxatives (such as Ex-Lax®, for instance) speed up the elimination of debris by irritating the lining of the intestines. Over the counter laxatives like these are not recommended to be used on a regular basis. Herbal laxatives like psyllium husks and flax seeds work by swelling and absorbing the fluids in the intestines and moving stuck mass along in the large intestine and are generally called bulking agents. Triphala works by toning and strengthening the entire large intestine and helping to deep clean the G.I. tract. This helps to alleviate all kinds of built-up toxic residue. This cleansing will give you more energy and help with the overall health of your entire intestinal system.

Triphala is known to:
  • improve digestion 
  • has been found to reduce serum cholesterol 
  • can improve liver function 
  • it has proven anti-inflammatory and antiviral properties 
  • contains linoleic acid (a component in essential fatty acids (EFAs) important to cell integrity and overall health
  • may help lower high blood pressure

Why wouldn’t I take triphala? The only contraindications I could find for this supplement are pregnancy and diarrhea. Otherwise, at least in India, triphala is taken by most people since it is so good on so many levels for supporting health. Check with your healthcare practitioner to be sure triphala is right for you.

Do I need to take triphala? If you suffer from chronic (or even occasional) constipation, you might want to at least try triphala for a period of time to see if it does indeed help you eliminate more efficiently. If you are not getting the garbage out of your body, you are inviting trouble. Toxic waste that is reabsorbed into the bloodstream can bring about a whole host of problems, short- and long-term.

What is the dosage? You will want to experiment with dosage when using triphala. When I first started using it years ago, I had chronic constipation. I started with a low dose (1-2 capsules 2x daily) to get it into my system and let my body get used to its tonic effect. After a week, I upped my dosage since I wasn’t getting any appreciable effects from taking the lower dose. I went up to 2-3 capsules morning and evening. Three seemed to make my bowels too loose, so I went down to 2 capsules twice a day. This seemed to be my personal best dosage.

Experiment for yourself and find the dosage that works for you. The recommendations I have found range from taking 4-6 capsules daily to taking large doses at night (3-4 capsules) to help cleanse and detoxify and then 1-2 capsules before meals for the health building and rejuvenating effects. Triphala is meant to be taken 2 hours before or after meals. In other words—on an empty stomach.

How long should I take triphala? You can take it for a course of treatment to help the constipation you may be experiencing once in a while. But if you have chronic constipation, I would consider taking triphala as a daily supplement to help tone and condition your colon as well as keep your bowels moving. Triphala is actually intended to be used as a regular supplement to your diet, rather than just when symptoms of constipation are present. And the longer you use this tonic preparation, the greater the benefit you will receive.

If you don’t suffer with digestive trouble, you could still try triphala simply because it benefits the system on so many levels. Based on my own experience with taking this supplement, triphala will certainly help support and promote your health.

For a few more ideas for your colon and/or constipation, see: