Triphala: The Bowel Soother
Triphala is an Ayurvedic herbal concoction that comes from the sanskrit words “tri,” meaning three, and “phala,” meaning fruit. As such, it consists of equal parts of—you guessed it!—three fruits: amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. Traditionally, people have used the tonic for bowel health, and today, practitioners prescribe it as a mild laxative. “Triphala is my go-to herb for the digestive system,” says Chanté Wiegand, a naturopathic physician in Victor, Idaho, and director of education at The Synergy Company. “It can be especially helpful for people with constipation and indigestion.”
Research indicates that antioxidants in triphala, namely flavonoids and polyphenols, have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antidiarrheal abilities. One animal study showed that triphala significantly reduced colitis in rats, and a 2011 human study noted that a tonic containing triphala extract, along with other herbs, safely and effectively reduced constipation.
Triphala also seems to keep things moving along the GI system by increasing the strength or frequency of muscle contractions in the intestine. It does this without disrupting the whole system. “It’s extremely beneficial as a ‘prokinetic,’ which is an absolute must in patients who have Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth [SIBO],” Wigand says. “[Triphala will] keep the small intestine clear of unhealthy bacterial populations. SIBO may even be at the root of Irritable Bowel Syndrome [IBS].”
How to Use It
Triphala is usually taken on an empty stomach and can be ingested in a few different ways, Wiegand explains: The powder can be stirred into hot water or combined with honey or ghee before a meal. Tablets and capsules are typically taken once or twice a day, before food. “For a liquid supplement, you will typically be directed to take 30 drops in water or juice, one to three times daily,” she adds.
If you can stomach the flavor, she recommends the powder option, consumed as a tea. “Tasting the herb directly actually ignites the digestive process,” Wiegand explains. To keep the bowels moving, try about a half-teaspoon mixed into warm water two hours after dinner or 30 minutes before bedtime. “However, it has a bitter taste, so capsules or tablets are an option for those that absolutely can’t tolerate the taste,” she adds. If taking in capsule or tablet form, she recommends 1,000 milligrams per day.