How can I talk about triphala without a big smile on my face? Triphala-la-la-la-la. Clearly, I love this stuff. This was definitely not love at first sight, or taste rather. One of the more amusing aspects of my job is hearing people’s first impressions of triphala: “ass-tea” “like eating dirt” “tastes like dirty feet” and “reminded me of eating banana peels” are some of my favorite. (Feel free to add your experience in the comments below.)
When I first began taking triphala years ago, I had to plug my nose and take it down with a chaser. Now, it’s a refreshing drink that almost tastes sweet to me! How can our experience vary so much? Well, our perception is a function of our current state of balance, or vikruti. So as you diminish your doshic imbalances, and connect to the healing spirit of the herbs, your taste changes. I’ve seen this a hundred times over. So stick with your triphala, and maybe in a few months it will be a different experience.
There is a lot of great research and information online about triphala. So I’ll keep my commentary to the point and refer out for additional information.
WHAT IS IT? A combination of three fruits in dried powder form: amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki. These fruits are known for their high antioxidant content, and rare ability to rejuvenate and detoxify simultaneously. For the herbalists out there, it has several biomedical actions:
- colon tonic
- aperient (opens channels)
- alterative (cleans blood)
- carminative (reduces gas)
- expectorant (reduces mucous)
- antimicrobial (prevents infection)
WHAT ARE ITS SUPER-POWERS? There are so many. I describe the benefits in four categories:
- Rejuvenative–restores the health of digestive cells and optimizes their function.
- Detoxifying–pulls out toxins from digestive tract at first, and then deeper tissues.
- Dosha Balancing–triphala can actually sense with dosha is in excess in your digestive system and works to release the excess vata, pitta or kapha as needed. This is amazing because in the long run any excess dosha will be distributed to deeper tissues and lodge there. When the imbalance is alleviated in the digestive tract, it doesn’t have the opportunity to travel to deeper tissues. This is why so many clients report improvements in other systems when we just address the digestive system.
- “Keepin’ the flow”–Something rarely address is the subtle energetic properties of herbs. With triphala, it really helps to allow you to digest emotions and life situations as well. It will help you from stagnating or perseverating on an issue. I increase my dose when I want to move through a situation more quickly (e.g. feel a cold coming on or a tense interaction with a loved one).
For more on triphala, here is Dr. Michael Tierra’s (whose work I deeply respect) article on the Wonders of Triphala
HOW DO I TAKE IT? I personally take 1 tspn in hot water at night and then reuse the sediment for a lighter dose in the a.m. This is also what I recommend to clients. More specifically:
- During the first day, put 1 tspn triphala powder in a cup of water. Let it sit all day.
- At bedtime, drink off the liquid portion (supernatant), leaving the sediment at the bottom of the cup. Refill the cup with water. Let sit all night.
- Upon waking, drink off the liquid portion again, pouring the sediment down the drain. Reset 1 tspn in water again for bedtime.
In this way there is a nice rhythm where you take this before bed and upon waking and it’s more like a shot than a tea. It doesn’t have to leave home like a digestive tea, and if you really can’t deal with the taste, if can be encapsulated. If you are taking caps, I recommend starting out with 2 at bed and 2 in the am.
TIPS So life will happen and you may forget to set your triphala. It’s okay. You only need to let it steep for 10 min (5 if you use hot water), before taking it. Also, it’s nice to have on an empty stomach, but okay if you don’t have an empty stomach too. Lastly, when you first begin taking triphala, you may have a lot of gurgling, or loose stool as it moves stuff out of your digestive tract. Just stick with it and that should all settle down in a week. If it doesn’t, try cutting the dose in half (especially if you are a tiny person).
CONTRAINDICATIONS Pregnancy, actively bleeding from any tissue (e.g. bleeding fiboids, ulcer), dysentery (lower GI bugs that cause diarrhea). Because of the “flow” promoting aspect of triphala, it can encourage bleeding, or cause miscarriage. No known drug interactions.