When you're feeling fatigued and bloated and you're suffering from gas or digestive discomfort, a good inner cleansing can help. To clear out toxins and undigested foods, Ayurvedic practitioners recommend triphala, a formula composed of equal amounts of dried fruit from three Indian plants: haritaki, amalaki, and bibhitaki. The fruits each help alleviate individual digestion problems but work together to cleanse and strengthen the stomach.
What's In It
Haritaki: Cultivated throughout India, the haritaki tree can grow up to 70 feet tall. The green fruit is about the size of a large plum and contains compounds known to have a laxative effect. Haritaki is commonly referred to as "the king of medicines" in Tibetan medicine because it heals all body tissue and supports the digestive and nervous systems. It works to consistently scrub and cleanse ama (toxins and undigested food) from the colon.
Amalaki: Also known as Indian gooseberry, this golf–ball–size, light–green fruit grows at the base of the Himalaya Mountains in northern India. Amalaki is also called "the nurse" and "fruit of immortality" because of its rich antioxidants and bioflavonoids, as well as its ability to reduce heat and inflammation. It is often regarded as the most concentrated source of vitamin C in nature.
Bibhitaki: A small, brownish fruit that grows all over India and Sri Lanka, bibhitaki has strong laxative qualities. It helps clear accumulations—such as loose stools, mucus, bronchitis, and kidney stones—in the digestive, respiratory, and urinary systems.
Triphala, which means "three fruits" in Sanskrit, contains the dried fruits of three Indian plants: haritaki, amalaki, and bibhitaki. The fruits' high fiber and antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and laxative properties combine to clear out and strengthen the digestive tract, fortifying it against food allergies and sensitivities, says Vishnu Dass, director of the Blue Lotus Ayurveda clinic in Asheville, N.C. In Ayurvedic terms, triphala is known as a rasayana, or "rejuvenating formula." "Everyone should travel with it, because who doesn't feel constipated on the road?" Dass adds.
Fights Arthritis and Cancer
Triphala also works outside the digestive tract. A 2007 study in Phytotherapy Research found that it has promising anti-inflammatory effects against arthritis in mice. It has also been touted as a possible anticancer.
Did You Know?
In Ayurveda, triphala is regarded as a top–notch eye reviver. Use it to make a tea that can help to soothe stressed, fatigued, or puffy eyes. To make the tea: Mix ½ to 1 teaspoon triphala powder with ½ to 1 cup hot water, in equal parts, and let sit for five to 15 minutes. Then strain the mixture through a coffee filter and let the leftover liquid cool to room temperature. Fill an eyecup with the cooled liquid and use it to wash your eyes.