Triphala: More Than Just a Digestive Tonic

Triphala, found in MAPI's Organic Digest Tone, is one of the most famous herbal compounds in ayurvedic medicine. Triphala literally means "three fruits." The three fruits contained in Triphala are Haritaki (Chebulic Myrobalan), Amalaki (Amla) and Bibhitaki (Belleric Myrobalan).

Traditionally, Triphala comes in many different forms, including the Triphala tablets available from Maharishi Ayurveda Products International.

Triphala can also be mixed with other herbs in compound formulations. Triphala Guggulu, for instance, is much more powerful than Guggulu (Guggul) alone.

A powerful rasayana

There is a saying in India that if a vaidya (ayurvedic expert) knows how to use Triphala properly, he can heal any disease. It is a highly revered rasayana in Maharishi Ayurveda.

A rasayana is the most highly refined and powerful herbal and fruit combination in ayurveda, and is known to promote long life and vitality. A rasayana promotes ojas, the finest product of digestion that prevents disease, creates luster in the skin and rejuvenates the whole body.

Besides nourishing the mind and body and promoting longevity, Triphala has many specific effects. It is particularly rejuvenating for the digestive tract, and is a rasayana for the eyes and the skin.

Triphala, found in MAPI's Organic Digest Tone, balances Apana Vata, the subdosha of Vata that governs the colon, lower abdomen, menstrual flow and elimination. For most people Triphala is a mild laxative, and for that reason it is excellent for clearing toxins from the digestive system. In very rare cases it has a stronger laxative effect, but usually it is an ideal bowel cleanser precisely because of its mildness. In moderate doses it is gentle, and detoxifies the body slowly.

Because it is slow, you can take Organic Digest Tone for longer periods of time, and then it has a deeply purifying effect. It goes deep into the physiology and releases the toxins at a much deeper level. Because it detoxifies the blood, muscle and fat tissues, it is excellent for preventing skin disease. And because it removes ama (toxins) from the fat tissue, Organic Digest Tone also helps balance cholesterol.

Triphala, found in MAPI's Organic Digest Tone, also purifies the urine and prevents urinary tract disease. It enhances all thirteen agnis (digestive fires), especially the main digestive fire in the stomach. It pacifies Kapha and Pitta and, if taken regularly, is a powerful anti-aging rasayana.

The ingredients

The ingredients that make up Triphala, found in MAPI's Organic Digest Tone, are powerful individually. When combined correctly, synergy enhances the healing quotient exponentially.

The first ingredient is Haritaki, or Chebulic Myrobalan. This fruit is mentioned in almost all ayurvedic textbooks. Charaka goes so far as to say that Haritaki is as nourishing and useful for everyone as mother's milk. He mentions that it's a rasayana for the eyes and good for the digestive system. It helps enhance the absorption of nutrients in food. Haritaki is a yogavahini, which means that it cleanses the channels and is absorbed quickly by the body. In addition, the Charaka Samhita says that Haritaki is all-dosha balancing. Very few fruits and herbs have this designation.

Amalaki, or Amla, the second ingredient, is known as a divine plant in the ayurvedic materia medica. Amalaki is also a rasayana, which means that it has longevity-enhancing and disease-defying qualities. The Charaka Samhita says, "Amalaki is the best among rejuvenative herbs."

Amalaki fruit contains the sweet, sour, bitter, astringent and pungent tastes. The only taste missing is salty. Because it contains five out of the six tastes, it is balancing to all three doshas.

There are many excellent qualities in Amalaki. Amalaki helps purify toxins from the body, by enhancing food absorption. When your digestion becomes stronger, the food you eat is converted to nutrition rather than staying undigested and producing impurities. The unique thing about Amalaki is that it heightens digestion, yet is not heating. That's why it's traditionally considered one of the best herbs for balancing stomach acid. By enhancing digestion, it helps eliminate toxins from the body. It also does this by strengthening and stimulating the liver. Amalaki also helps elimination and helps relieve constipation, so you can see why Triphala also has that quality.

Amalaki is an excellent source of Vitamin C, and is the most concentrated and absorbable source of the vitamin in the plant kingdom. It also contains other absorbable minerals that nourish the skin, the blood and the whole body. Because of its high content of Vitamin C, Amalaki is a powerful antioxidant.

Bibhitaki, or Belleric Myrobalan, the final ingredient in Triphala, is also famous in the classical ayurvedic texts for its many good qualities. Charaka reports that it is ideal for pacifying both Pitta and Kapha, and that it cleanses the nutritive fluid (Rasa Dhatu), the blood, the muscle and the fat tissue. Sushruta points out the bhedana effect of this fruit, which means that because of its heating quality it clears the clogged channels almost as if drilling them clear.

So now you can see why Triphala is so powerful: it's because the three fruits that make up the formula have remarkable abilities to cleanse impurities, tone the digestive tract, nurture the body and restore health.

Quality Matters

There are many brands of Triphala available in the market. The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends that you look for top-quality Triphala, found in MAPI's Organic Digest Tone. Settling for second best can mean you do not derive the full range of benefits this amazing formula has to offer.

At Maharishi Ayurveda, we are committed to using only the highest quality ingredients, and to upholding the authenticity of the ayurvedic tradition no matter what the cost. One example of this: the Haritaki fruit comes in seven different varieties. While all are beneficial, the Vijaya variety is mentioned by all the great ayurvedic seers as the best variety to use, which in itself is rare, as not many fruits and herbs are universally acclaimed by all the seers.

Vijaya is the only variety that is used in Maharishi Ayurveda's Triphala, because it is, quite simply, the best. But while it is the best, Vijaya is also the most rare. This scarcity makes it more expensive; in fact it is ten times the price of other varieties of Haritaki.

We use fruits that are grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or exposure to environmental pollutants, and harvest the fruits only at their peak, when they are ripe on the tree.

Once the fruits are collected, at the processing factory they are sorted and tested to make sure the batch is of the right degree of ripeness and the proper quality. The fruits are washed and cleansed of traces of jute (jute bags are used to collect the fruit), dirt and dust. They are tested for foreign material, heavy metals and for bacteria before, during and after processing. The processing methods we use do not destroy the natural properties of the fruits.

Diet and lifestyle tips to maximize benefits

Here are some tips that will help your body maximize the benefits from taking Triphala:

  • It's important to avoid building up toxins in your body in the first place. Avoid foods that include chemical preservatives, emulsifiers and additives of any kind. Also try to avoid foods that are grown with pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Eat fresh, organic, well-cooked foods whenever possible. Avoid eating packaged, frozen, canned, "fast" or leftover foods, as these dead foods are hard to digest and create toxins when the body can't digest them properly.
  • Avoid ice-cold drinks, as they reduce the digestive fire. Drink plenty of warm water throughout the day to help flush out toxins. Eat sweet, juicy fruits daily if possible, as these help cleanse the rasa (nutrient fluid) and the bowels.
  • Go to bed by 10:00 p.m. so your body can rest during its natural purification period from 10:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
  • Eat your main meal at midday, when your digestive fire is high. Eat lighter at breakfast and supper, when your digestion is not as strong. Save the harder-to-digest foods such as yogurt, meats (if you're not vegetarian), and potatoes for the noon meal.
  • Eat your meals at the same times each day. Eat only when you're hungry, and wait a full three hours after a main meal before snacking. This will allow the food to digest properly. Take your time when you eat, and be sure to chew your food. Don't try to watch TV, read or work while you're eating, as that will only be a recipe for indigestion. Savor the flavors, and enjoy the colors, aromas and textures of your food. Light, pleasant conversation with people you love is best for digestion. Avoid intense conversations or emotional topics while eating.
  • Eat only until you are three-fourths full. Usually it takes a few minutes for the brain to register that you're full, so if you eat until you're stuffed, you're probably going to feel uncomfortable a while later. Also, the digestive system needs some space to operate in, so stuffing yourself to the maximum will actually inhibit digestion. Allow five minutes to sit after the meal is finished to get your digestion off to the right start.
  • When you drink milk, boil it first with fresh ginger or cardamom pod, or add a pinch each of the ground ginger and cardamom spices. Let the milk cool to the temperature you like and then drink it. This is the ayurvedic way to make milk more digestible and to avoid the build-up of mucus. Avoid combining milk with salty foods, fish, and foods of mixed taste. It digests well when you drink it alone between meals, or with other sweet tastes such as cereal, desserts, or toast.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.