Triphala: A Formula for Health
This is the last in a series of articles written by Ayurvedic practitioner, Vishnudass. Many thanks to him for sharing his expertise on this fascinating science. Shakti Online will begin another series of Ayurveda articles later this year.
Triphala is probably one of the most popular Ayurvedic compounds and it can be found nowadays in almost every health food store and Indian grocery store. It is well known for being a mild laxative and lower bowel tonic.
Triphala, literally meaning three fruits, contains equal parts of the amalaki, haritaki, and bibitaki fruits. These fruits come from the various Myrobalan trees found in India and have particularly balancing effects on each of the three doshas.
- Amalaki fruit is well known for its cooling, pitta-pacifying properties and is rich in iron and vitamin C. It strengthens the blood, bones, liver, and heart. It can be used alone or with other herbs to treat a variety of inflammatory types of disorders related to excess pitta. Even though it is sour to the taste, it has a special cooling quality that helps balance pitta. It is nourishing to all the bodily tissues, a tonic to the immune system. Also, it is the basis for the famous herbal jam known as Chyavanaprash, which is a general rasayana (restorative tonic) used in Ayurveda.
- Haritaki fruit rejuvenates vata dosha. It is warming and nourishing to all the bodily tissues; promotes digestion and absorption; helps tonify the colon and regulate healthy eliminatory functions; and also has anti-parasitical properties. It nourishes the brain, respiratory tract, throat, nerves, eyes, and skin and is supportive to mental functions. It is also referred to as the king of herbs in Tibetan medicine.
- Bibitaki fruit is primarily a tonic to kapha. It has an affinity to the lungs and stomach and is nourishing to the bone tissue. Its anti-kapha action helps to break down stones in the urinary tract. It also has both a laxative and tonifying effect on the colon and promotes digestion and absorption and the elimination of parasites. It is used to improve and restore the voice and vision and to promote hair growth.
When these three fruits are mixed together in equal quantities they form a well-balanced and rejuvenating formula. Most laxatives tend to be habit forming, which can weaken the tone of the colon over time, whereas triphala can be used safely for extended periods to provide both a cleansing and rejuvenating action.
SOME USES OF TRIPHALA
Drinking triphala tea every day helps to cleanse the body of toxins; promotes digestion, assimilation, and absorption; and rejuvenates the body and mind.
As a laxative and bowel tonic, any of the following methods are effective ways to aid and regulate elimination
- Basic Tea Recipe: Stir 1/2 to 1 tsp of triphala powder into a cup of hot water and let it steep for 5 to 10 minutes and drink the tea—powder and all—before bedtime.
- To provide a stronger effect, when needed, boil 1/2 to 1 tsp in a cup of hot water for 3 to 5 minutes, then strain it before drinking.
- A cold infusion can also be made by soaking 1/2 to 1 tsp of triphala in a cup of room temperature water overnight and drinking it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach.
- If there is dry constipation and triphala isn’t working, then adding 1/4 tsp of licorice powder per 1/2 tsp triphala can help promote moisture in the colon.
An eye wash made with triphala can treat various eye disorders such as glaucoma, blepharitis, conjunctivitis (pink eye), tired or puffy eyes, poor eyesight, and sties.
- Prepare an eye wash by making triphala tea and straining it through a fine coffee filter. Fill an eye wash cup and flush the eyes a few times. This can be done daily if needed.
Use the tea as a hair rinse after washing your hair to treat dandruff.
Sore Throat Relief
For impaired voice or sore throat from too much singing, chanting, or talking, or from laryngitis, mix the powder with honey and eat as a paste.
A Fat Burner
To burn fat, drink triphala tea with a little raw honey mixed into it every night. Make sure not to cook the honey, but just add it after the triphala has soaked long enough.
Recovery from colds and flu
It is good to take triphala tea at the end of a cold or flu to help flush the ama (toxins) that tends to settle during those ailments.
A word of caution: Triphala shouldn’t be taken in cases of ulcerative colitis or during pregnancy. In these cases, amalaki alone can be used safely.
Vishnu Dass (NTS, LMT, CAyu) studied Ayurveda under the guidance of Dr. Vasant Lad, world-renowned Ayurvedic physician and teacher. He is a graduate of the New Mexico School of Natural Therapeutics in Albuquerque, MN. He had previously studied with herbalist Michael Tierra at the American School of Herbalism in Santa Cruz, CA. He is a former Board Member of the National Ayurvedic Medical Association (NAMA) and was granted a Lifetime Professional Membership for his service to that Board.
Vishnu offers lectures and workshops on Ayurveda and yoga philosophy for various herb schools and yoga centers throughout the South East, and has published several articles on Ayurveda and yoga, both on local and national publications, including Light on Ayurveda Journal, New Life Journal, and Integrative Health and Healing, amongst others.He has been in clinical practice for over 12 years, treating people of all ages.
His practice, Blue Lotus Ayurveda: Natural Health & Rejuvenation is located at 822 Haywood Rd. – Asheville, North Carolina Phone: (828) 713-4266 For more information, go to his website at www.bluelotusayurveda.com