About ten years ago, a patient I hadn’t seen in about four or five years came in for an office visit. When I asked her how she has been, she said, “Great! I did exactly what you said and I lost fifty pounds.”
I asked her curiously, “What exactly did I tell you to do?”
She said, “You told me to take Triphala after each meal. I didn’t change my diet or anything else; I just took the Triphala and lost all the weight!”
While I can in no way guarantee these results, I recently ran across a study that may support these benefits.
Join me as I report on some very unique benefits of the Ayurvedic herb Triphala.
Risk Factors for a Growing Epidemic
Though international attention has been focused on reducing a growing epidemic of obesity, the numbers are still rising. Currently, there are 1.5 billion adults who are considered overweight worldwide, with 400 million considered clinically obese.
Obesity has been linked to increased risk of coronary artery disease, cancer, hypertension, hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol) and diabetes.
Risk factors like a high-fat, high-calorie and nutrient-poor diet, lack of exercise, and insulin resistance are among the major risk factors for weight gain. Researchers believe the biggest contributor to clinical obesity is insulin resistance and diabetes, which affects 220 million worldwide. In the US, pre-diabetes—which also presents risk for weight gain—affects one-third of adults or 100 million people.
Triphala May Shift the Risk Factors Themselves
In a recent study in the peer review journal Alternative Therapies, the effects of the herbal formula Triphala (also spelled Trifala) were studied. The study set out to measure the effects of Triphala and its individual herbal components Amalaki, Haritaki and Bibhitaki, on various blood markers linked to obesity.
This study divided 42 mice into six groups. All but one group was fed a high fat diet for 10 weeks:
- Group One – Normal Diet
- Group Two – High Fat Diet
- Group Three – High Fat Diet plus Triphala
- Group Four – High Fat Diet plus Amalaki
- Group Five – High Fat Diet plus Haritaki
- Group Six – High Fat Diet plus Bibhitaki
For each group, blood was drawn every 2, 4, 8 and 10 weeks. The blood markers that were measured were fasting blood glucose, serum lipid profiles—including total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL and HDL cholesterols—energy intake, body fat, liver cytology (cell health), and body weight for each group.
The results showed that the mice on a high fat diet who took Triphala and its constituents supported a natural and significant regulation in:
- Body weight
- Percentage body fat
- Cholesterol, LDL, HDL and triglycerides
- Glucose levels
- Insulin resistance
- Liver enzymes
- Fat in the liver
- Cellular health in the liver
Though the results showed benefits with each of Triphala’s constituents individually, greater support was found with the complete Triphala formula alone.
According to the researchers, this was the first time Triphala and its constituents were studied for effects on obesity and its numerous physiological markers.
Triphala has been considered a safe and non-habit forming herbal formula for optimal bowel health for millennia. However, Triphala was not well known for directly supporting factors pertaining to obesity such as cholesterol, liver function and blood sugar issues.
According to Ayurveda, obesity, or Prameha, has numerous and complex causative factors. A poor lifestyle, overly rich diet, lack of proper exercise and diabetes as well as the symptoms of Metabolic Syndrome (high blood pressure, abdominal fat, high cholesterol, and blood sugar issues) are among them.
Many of these factors are linked to the poorly coordinated and imbalanced function of the liver, pancreas and intestinal tract. Triphala’s three constituents seem to offer support for each of these three organ systems.
- Amalaki (Emblica officinalis) supports natural cellular repair of the intestinal wall and liver, as well as healthy lipid levels.
- Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) supports bowel and liver function as well as pancreatic ducts and the natural flow of bile.
- Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) supports the natural scrubbing and optimal health of the intestinal wall.
Taking Triphala after meals seems to support the healthy function of liver, bile and pancreas. Taken at this time, it seems to naturally scrub the villi of the intestinal tract, which may explain why it supports optimal intestinal and digestive function.
This article is a review of a study published in: Altern Ther Health Med. 2012;18(2):38-45