Kick Constipation with Triphala: An Herbal Remedy for your Bathroom Backups
Jul 12, 2022
Written by Casie Giroux
If you’ve ever been a little bit (or a lotta bit) backed up in the poop department, you know that sometimes it gets to the point where you’d try anything to get things moving. Prunes, laxatives, or even enemas are some classic methods that get your caboose to shake loose, but they aren’t sustainable solutions to help you go. If you’re looking for gentle but potent support to get things going, read on to learn all about triphala, a tried and true herbal remedy that’s been used for thousands of years.
What is triphala?
Triphala has been one of the most widely-used foundational formulas in traditional Ayurvedic medicine for the past 2,000 years. Triphala is actually not a single herb but rather equal proportions of three different powdered fruits native to India: amalaki, bibkittake, and haritaki. The fruits combine to make a complex flavor that is sour, sweet, pungent, bitter, and astringent. The traditional uses of triphala are vast, but it was primarily utilized to promote healthy digestion, nutrient absorption, adequate elimination, and renewal.
This three fruit blend is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, Vitamin C (445 mg per 100 gram serving), flavonoids, and carotenoids. Specifically, amalaki (one of the three fruits) is considered one of the richest sources of Vitamin C on the planet.
How can triphala benefit our various body systems?
The benefits of triphala to the human body are extensive, but these bitter fruits play a particularly important role in promoting overall gastrointestinal health. Through their bitter action, they stimulate digestion, increase circulation to the gut, and can improve nutrient absorption. The polyphenols within triphala help to promote a healthy gut microbiome by increasing the amount of beneficial bacteria and decreasing the growth of unwelcome microbes.
Working our way down the digestive tract, various studies have shown that triphala has an anti-inflammatory and regulating effect on our lower GI tract–and in turn, our bowels. It promotes healthy cleansing of the colon so we are not holding onto unnecessary toxins and other various waste products. Unlike commercial laxatives, which can be overly stimulating, triphala gently balances the system and can be used long term. In fact, due to its astringent properties it can also reduce diarrhea–further showing its regulatory effect on our digestive system.
Triphala demonstrates antioxidant activity in the body—scavenging for free radicals that can do us harm. Free radicals are compounds in the body that are linked to the onset of many chronic illnesses like diabetes and heart disease. Consistent use of triphala can support an increase in both red blood cells as well as hemoglobin production which increases our innate immunity. Research has also shown its value for supporting cancer treatments, as it has been shown to boost antioxidant activity in healthy cells while inhibiting activity in cancer cells.
Through its antimicrobial actions and properties, triphala can help reduce oral bacteria and gingivitis, which actually contributes to overall heart health. Excess gum disease and poor gum health has been demonstrated to negatively impact blood vessels. Research also shows that consistent use of triphala has been linked to decreased LDL cholesterol levels as well blood sugar regulating benefits.
Triphala has multiple benefits that contribute to healthy skin, including helping to increase collagen production, evening skin tone due to hyperpigmentation, and reducing oxidative stress which can contribute to premature aging.
How do I take triphala?
In traditional Ayurveda, triphala is consumed in a tea. Tasting the herb is an important part of the practice, as taste is what signals your body to stimulate the digestive process. That said, consuming triphala on its own is not as tasty, so we recommend using the herb blend as a powder mixed with a flavorful nut butter or honey which can greatly improve its palatability without losing the digestive stimulation!
Since tasting the herb improves its benefits, you may have guessed that taking triphala in a capsule is not the ideal form. Capsules can also be hard to break down for an already compromised digestive tract. When taking the herb to regulate the bowels, it is best taken in the evening to promote a healthy morning flow.
It is best to start slow with ¼ tsp and work your way up to a full 1 tsp dose, if needed! It is safe to be taken daily but can also be incorporated on an as-needed basis while traveling or if you fall out of your routine.
When taking triphala for its other tonic benefits for skin, immune support, and heart health, taking 1 tsp daily in the morning is ideal, but anytime throughout the day is beneficial. My favorite way is to combine it with 1 tsp of honey and 1 tablespoon of nut butter!
With all the amazing benefits triphala has to offer, this potent herbal remedy is a great addition to your natural medicine cabinet for overall vitality and health.
About Casie Giroux
Casie Giroux is a Clinical Herbalist with a background in communication sciences, herbal product formulation and creation, sustainable wildcrafting, teaching, and organic farming. She earned her certification through the California School of Herbal Studies in Forestville, CA. On the weekends you can find her playing in the garden, foraging for abundant plants, and camping by the water.