When traveling in India, it is impossible not to absorb the vitality and life of that land. Vivid colors, roaming animals, happy children, cohesive communities all give india something extra special. The most magic however, lies in the spirituality and in their belief of what health is. In their world, health isn’t separated into neat boxes. Health encompasses every aspect of life.
Ayurveda is the mainstay of healthcare in some eastern countries. What is Ayurveda? In Sanskrit, it translates to “science of life” as it covers diet, herbs and encourages yoga practice. It’s been around 6000 years old and is revered as the world’s oldest healthcare system. Possibly the most cherished herbal preparation in the entire subcontinent is Triphala. In fact, there is a saying in India that goes, “No mother? No worries as long as you have Triphala.” This is because they believe Triphala can care for the body just as a mother cares for a child.
What exactly does Triphala improve? What is Triphala? Triphala contains fruit native to the Indian subcontinent and literally means “three fruits.” It’s benefits are unparalleled:
Reduces serum cholesterol,
Improves circulation (potentiates adrenergic function),
Contains 30% linoleic acid
Reduces high blood pressure
Improves liver function
Has proven anti-inflammatory and anti-viral properties
Improves cough/protects against colds
Triphala is not only nutritious but aids as a gentle natural laxative and enhances digestion. The preparation contains anthroquinones which are known to improve peristalsis, or the propulsion of food contents throughout the digestive system. They also stimulate bile in the liver and gallbladder which are necessary for proper digestion. Just think about it. Constipation is a sign of poor health. Your body, with as many chemicals as its exposed it to in food, water, medicines, etc, should be evacuating itself of waste more than once a day! If not, this is a sign of disease or microbial issues.
Often, a congested liver and gallbladder leads to backed up bowels. Left untreated, this eventually affects the blood as the liver, the main detoxifier, is toxic itself. So many people in the United States need a liver cleanse. The liver not only holds onto food, but emotions like anger and grudges as well. With the lifestyle, work and energy overload encouraged in the USA, on top of toxic food, most of us struggle with frustration and sometimes, anger due to a congested liver. Triphala is of great benefit for constipation and congested livers, however it will not work as well as a laxative for those who are dealing with lack of energy or chi/prana. In this case it should be mixed with something with calming heat, like ginger. Overall it’s excellent for digestion and gentle on the gut.
The liver is so very important as its the body’s main detoxifier! The liver’s job is to filter and cleanse the blood of impurities, but if the liver is stagnated then the blood will eventually become toxic as well. Triphala detoxifies the liver and and hence tonifies the blood. Purification is accomplished when Triphala stimulates bile to wash throughout the biliary system. This cleanses and lubricates the liver. The liver is also responsible for is helping in the production of cholesterol, which is hindered if the liver is toxic. Triphala is excellent at lowering cholesterol and lipids made in the liver as it encourages proper function of the organ.
The three fruits of Triphala (Harada, Amla and Bihara) each correspond to the three “Doshas” of Indian Ayurvedic medicine. The doshas, or mind-body types include vata, pitta and kapha.
1. Harada (Haritaki)-
Helps is a bitter fruit that is used to treat the vata constitution. Vata is wind/space energy, but if imbalanced, can lead to anxiety, restlessness and inability to focus. Harada is antiparasitic, antispasmodic, a laxative, and an antimicrobial agent. It encourages regular bowel movements and digestion.
Also called the Indian gooseberry, Amla is revered as one of the highest sources of vitamin C and tannins used in treating the pitta constitution. Pitta is fire/water energy. In fact it contains more 20 times more vitamin C than one orange! It is used to treat the pitta constitution which if imbalanced leads to skin eruptions, ulcers, intestinal inflammation, liver congestion, diarrhea or constipation. It’s also antiviral and purifies the blood.
3. Bihari (Vibhitaki or Bibhitaki) is an astringent herb that aids in digestion. It helps to balance an off-kilter kapha dosha. Kapha is earth/water energy and is very grounding, but if imbalanced causes depression, mucus production, weight gain, or heart failure. Bihara purifies and balances excess mucus, treats asthma, lung conditions, and allergies.
Triphala is a well studied and respected mainstay in the east. It protects against infections and keeps digestion regular. With the majority of our immune system located in our intestines, it is imperative that the food we put into our bodies be clean and grown ethically. Digestion needs to occur as it was naturally planned.
Buy it in bulk powder to make tea or in capsule form! Although the tea can be rather astringent, you can come to enjoy and crave the medicine! Triphala is one essential key to detoxification on the road to health.