For thousands of years, the indigenous peoples of India have relied upon the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, a masterful system of holistic health designed to confer balance between mind, body and spirit, promoting strength, peace and well-being on those who follow its guidance.
One of the many ways that Ayurveda works to prevent and treat illness and imbalance is through the proper use of medicinal herbs, therapeutic oils, and foods and spices. One popular time-tested formula is Triphala, a combination of three healing fruits – Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki. While similar in certain properties, each fruit has its own specific character and action that, when taken together as one formula, create Triphala (meaning “three fruits”), a tonic used to nourish the mind and body, promote longevity and gently cleanse and detox the system while aiding and supporting good digestion and intestinal health. Here’s a closer look at each specific fruit:
Of all three fruits that make up Triphala, Amalaki (aka Amla and Indian Gooseberry) is the most recognized and widely used. To this day, it remains a favorite among Ayurvedic practitioners. Amalaki is packed with vitamin C, fiber and plant compounds called “phenols” and antioxidants, and is used to help lower cholesterol levels. While it can be used to treat all doshas, it is particularly calming and balancing for Pitta dosha. Although this NIH-published article notes the prevention and treatment of cancer in its title, it describes many uses for Amalaki including the treatment of colds and flu, its use as a liver tonic, a laxative, a restorative, an anti-inflammatory agent and a diuretic, also noting that Amla can benefit both the heart and gastrointestinal system.
Due to its extraordinary potential for healing, Haritaki (Terminalia Chebula) is often referred to as The King of Medicine. In Ayurveda, it is known to possess strong anti-inflammatory properties and is most calming and balancing to Vata dosha. Like Amalaki, Haritaki is a potent source of antioxidants and other important compounds that, according to this NIH-published article on its use in clinical research, show great promise in both the prevention and treatment of numerous diseases including digestive diseases, urinary diseases, diabetes, skin diseases, heart diseases, irregular fevers, constipation, ulcers, vomiting, colic pain and hemorrhoids.
The third fruit in the Triphala compound is Bibhitaki (Terminalia Belerica), known among healers as “the one who keeps away disease”. Due to its usefulness in alleviating conditions involving excess mucus, it is therapeutic and balancing for Kapha dosha. Bibhitaki contains a number of plant compounds that lend to its inherent healing abilities. It is considered a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which, in Ayurveda, has been used to help regulate blood sugar and treat diabetes. It is also thought to have anti-ulcer benefits, and as part of the Triphala formula has anticancer and antimicrobial properties. In this article, Bibhitaki is shown to play a vital role in reducing serum uric acid levels which means it shows great potential for treating gout and hyperuricemia (abnormally high levels of uric acid in the blood).