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Emblica officinalis

What is Triphala?

Triphala, famous for its use in Ayurvedic medicine, is a polyherbal mixture meaning it consists of 3 plant species: Emblica officinalis (Amalaki), Terminalia bellerica (Bibhitaki), and Terminalia chebula (Haritaki) [i]. In Sanskrit, Triphala means "three fruits”. The synergistic combination of these components working together is said to be more effective than if taken separately.

What are the specific therapeutic benefits of Triphala?

It is available in powder, juice, tincture, extract, capsule, or tablet form. It is said to be beneficial in the following areas[ii]:

Aiding in digestion and weight loss

Regulating blood sugar levels

Reducing inflammation

Lowering cholesterol

Helping to control blood pressure

Protect and improve liver function

Gastrointestinal health

It is said to be crucial in rejuvenating digestion in the stomach and intestines due to promoting bowel movements, whilst also helping to prevent diarrhoea.

In addition, Triphala research has found the formula to be potentially effective for several clinical uses, such as appetite stimulation and the reduction of uncomfortably high levels of acid in the stomach. Triphala includes fruits rich in vitamin E, flavonoids, and polyphenols. Thus, it has also proven to be an effective antioxidant, which protects our tissues from the ageing and health declining effects of oxidative stress via free radicals [iii] (please see later description).

Moreover, polyphenols in Triphala modulate the human gut microbiome and thereby promote the growth of beneficial Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus while inhibiting the growth of undesirable, disease-causing gut microbes. The activity of Triphala in reaction to gut microbiota helps to generate a variety of anti-inflammatory compounds. For example, Triphala-derived polyphenols such as chebulinic acid are transformed by the human gut microbiota into metabolites such as urolithins, which have the potential to prevent oxidative damage[iv] .

Stress-reducing and immune boosting potential

Triphala is also a potent anti-inflammatory, reducing chronic in flammation in the body which can lead to disease. It also bolsters the immune system to provide protection against invading disease-causing microbes and reduce the chance of autoimmune reactions, the poly-herbal mixture of Triphala is also seen to have antibacterial and anti fungal effects [v].

Furthermore, it has a adaptogenic properties to lower negative effects of psychological stress on the body. This effect has been seen in animal studies whereby Triphala protected against biochemical changes associated with stress such as increased lipid peroxidation and excessive corticosterone levels (a stress hormone) [vi]. Lipid peroxidation is the chain reaction, whereby fats in the body are degraded. In this process, free radicals "steal" electrons from the lipids in cell membranes, resulting in cell damage. The resulting cell damage by oxidative stress, is a leading cause behind many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular illnesses, immune dysfunction, diabetes and degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s [vii].

Cellular protection

Triphala is also seen to have antimutagenic and antineoplastic in test tube and animal studies, meaning it may protect cells against the cellular changes which can lead to cancerous mutations. It also may provide protection against side effects when taken alongside chemotherapy and radiotherapy [viii] [ix].

Blood sugar balance and reduces diabetes risk

Triphala helps to balance blood sugar, by lowering dangerously high levels of sugar in the blood that may lead to diabetes, over time. It also helps to prevent dental caries, oral plaque and oral bacteria [x].

Studies have demonstrated the potential of Triphala as a therapeutic agent for weight loss and reduction of body fat. In a 12-week, double-blind, randomized placebo-controlled trial, human subjects provided with Triphala lost ∼5 kg compared with the placebo control group [xi]. In the same study, mean fasting blood sugar and fasting serum insulin levels were also reduced in the Triphala group compared with those given placebo [xii].

Heart and circulatory health benefits

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of death worldwide and elevated levels of certain types of cholesterol are an important risk factor. Animal studies have reported Triphala to reduce the types of cholesterol which can commonly cause disease in high levels such as: low-density lipoprotein, very low-density lipoprotein and free fatty acid levels in rats fed an high-fat diet for 48 days [xiii].

Precautions and interactions

Taking Triphala alongside medications for diabetes and hypertension may make them less effective.

Additionally, many of the compounds found in Triphala are processed in the body by liver enzymes known as cytochrome P450 (CYP450). Taking Triphala with other drugs processed by CYP450 may increase or decrease the amounts of those drugs in the blood. As such, you may need to avoid Triphala if taking any of the following:

Anti-arrhythmia drugs


Antifungal drugs (ketoconazole) (voriconazole)

Antipsychotic drugs (pimozide)

Atypical antidepressants

Benzodiazepine sedatives

HIV drugs

Immune-suppressive drugs (cyclosporine)

Opioid painkillers (fentanyl)

Rifampin-based drugs used to treat tuberculosis

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