Triphala has been used as a decades-old home remedy for chronic constipation, a common health issue for many urban Indians. But does it work? Here's what scientific research says.
Getting your digestive system to work properly is a never-ending game of trial and error. Improper gut health always affects bowel movement by either causing diarrhoea or constipation.
According to the Gut-Health Survey, 14% of India’s urban population suffers from chronic constipation. This is caused due to a number of reasons, including dehydration and excessive stress, among others. However, there’s one solution to this, which has been working for several decades – Triphala.
This powder or churna is commonly found in any Indian grandmother’s kitchen and is recommended by Ayurveda practitioners as well as modern science.
What is Triphala?
As the name suggests, Triphala (tri -three and phala- fruit) is a polyherbal medicine made of three fruits- amla, bibhitaki, and haritaki. The three are dried and ground into powder, which is further made into a paste or consumed by mixing with water and honey.
Both western medicine and Ayurveda agree that most diseases in the human body begin in the gut. That is why Triphala is an essential medicine to promote digestion, elimination and rejuvenation.
While amla is rich in vitamin C, the other two components in Triphala, bibhitaki and haritaki, are rich in a wide range of healthy acids including gallic acid, tannic acid, and omega 3 fatty acids, among others. These are well-known to improve gut health.
Triphala to ease constipation
Scientific studies carried out over the past two decades have validated that Triphala possesses free radical scavenging, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, analgesic and anti-stress properties. Clinical studies have shown that it also has a strong laxative effect that improves appetite and reduces gastric hyperacidity.
In 2008, a study was conducted among 34 patients suffering from functional constipation. They were made to consume Triphala in powdered form for two weeks, and this showed significant improvement in their bowel movement. It even reduced the time they spent in the bathroom.
Another study showed that prolonged consumption of Triphala reduced intestinal cramps, which are common among patients suffering from functional constipation. None of the treated groups showed any side effects.
Mumbai-based nutritionist Jaishree Jain also agrees that a person suffering from chronic constipation will immensely benefit from consuming Triphala. She suggests consuming half a teaspoon of this powder mixed in warm water every morning on an empty stomach.
She says, “It can be consumed at night as well, but may cause frequent urination and disturbed sleep. It is important not to mix more than one teaspoon of Triphala powder in water for regular consumption. This may cause diarrhoea. Apart from improving bowel movements, Triphala can also aid weight loss.”
Studies claim Triphala is also effective in preventing dental cavities and that its effect was equal to that of chlorhexidine, an antiseptic.