Ayurveda for your dosha and for the season – what is Triphala?

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We are now in the transition between the wetness of winter/early spring (Kapha) and the heat of summer (Pitta). Traditionally this is a time of spring cleaning – not only our homes but also our bodies’ internal systems. If a full-on detox sounds too much, another option as advised by my Ayurvedic consultant is to take Triphala - one of the most well-known and commonly used herbs in Ayurveda. Triphala, which means ‘three fruits’, combines the fruits of three plants, which are dried, ground, and precisely blended to create a beneficial synergistic effect.

What does it do?

Triphala acts to rejuvenate, according to the classical Ayurvedic text, the Charaka Samhita. Taking Triphala daily with honey and ghee (Triphala Rasayana) is said to have the power to “make a person live for one hundred years devoid of old age and diseases” – quite a claim!

From an Ayurvedic perspective, some of Triphala’s therapeutic action comes from the fact that it possesses five of the six tastes (all but salty) which are seen as necessary for health and well-being. It also balances all three doshas and all the seven tissue layers, making it perfect for all three constitutions of Vata, Pitta, and Kapha.

Triphala’s qualities are light and dry, adding lightness to the mind-body system. It also cleanses all the channels in the body, especially the channels of elimination, thus aiding in daily detoxification.

Some of the conditions said to be helped by Triphala

Detoxification – One of the most well-known characteristics of Triphala is its impact on toxicity levels within the body. Research has found that the active ingredients in this blend are able to stimulate the liver and kidneys, helping to clear the body of accumulations of toxins, thus preventing excess inflammation in various parts of the body. It is an excellent colon cleanser.

Lowers Cholesterol – Containing oleic and linoleic acid in two of the three herbs of the blend, these ‘good’ fats are able to re-balance cholestrol levels and prevent excess deposits of plaque in the arteries.

Immune Boosting – Amla, one of the key ingredients in Triphala, is rich in vitamin C, which can stimulate the immune system.

Diabetes – Triphala is said to improve the body’s insulin sensitivity, however, excess consumption of this herbal mixture may lead to an increase in blood sugar levels, so dose is important.

Weight Loss – Improves fat storage by preventing certain foods from being stored as fats. This can improve the speed of the metabolism and boost passive fat-burning.

Enhances Nutrient Intake – Aside from optimizing digestion and eliminating constipation symptoms, Triphala can also improve the efficiency of nutrient uptake, which will increase feelings of satiety and prevent overeating.

Side Effects of Triphala – Despite the many valuable benefits of Triphala, there are some potential side effects that must be considered. As with all medications and supplements, it is advisable to discuss taking Triphala with your medical or health provider.

Potential side effects include:

  • Gastrointestinal distress
  • Dehydration from excessive bowl movements
  • Allergic reactions
  • Insomnia (which can be aleviated by drinking the tea only on an empty stomach first thing in the morning)
  • Weight loss – not recommended for those with eating disorders