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The Triphala Trifecta: Amalaki, Bibhitaki, and Haritaki

Beverley has a degree in Science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

Ayurveda medicine has been around for thousands of years. It has given us a treasure trove of natural health and healing remedies. One of the most popular is Triphala. As the name implies three fruits are used to make the preparation: amala, bibhitaki, and haritaki.

I call Triphala a trifecta because each fruit offers its own high-stake nutritional compounds with potential health benefits. In fact, herbalists also use them as individual preparations. Together they make a potent therapeutic remedy that’s well-suited to Ayurvedic modality.

Triphala Powder

Triphala Powder

History of Triphala

Ancient India developed Triphala for cleansing and healing the body. The herbal medicine is made from the dried fruits of three important plants:

- Amala, derived from the Emblica Officinalis tree

- Bibhitaki from the Terminalia bellirica tree

- Haritaki from the Terminalia chebula tree

The fruits are ground and blended into powdered form. It’s also available as a pill or capsule. The physician Charak declared in an Ayurveda “Bible” called Charaka Samhita that a daily dose of Triphala has the ability to make a person live for one hundred years without disease or old age.

Those who have tried Triphala described the flavor as a combination of spicy, caustic, sweet, sour, and bitter.

What Does Triphala Do for the Body?

Triphala is a natural herbal panacea. It has been used

- To treat gastrointestinal ailments, cancer, skin conditions, and vision

- Promote food intake and absorption

- As a chemoprotective and radioprotective aid

- Antioxidant

- Anti-inflammatory

- Antimicrobial

- Antidiabetic

- Antiaging remedy

- Hepatoprotective

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- Anti-dental caries

- Adaptogen

- Wound healing therapy

- Improve circulation

- Stimulate red blood cell production

- Reduce blood cholesterol

- Relieve stress

And that’s only some of what the herbal mixture is used to treat.

"Triphala - All You Need To Know/ Who, When & How You Should Take Triphla" by Bearded Chokra

What Are the Beneficial Ingredients in Triphala?

Amalaki, bibhitaki, and haritaki contribute various bundles and proportions of their antioxidants, and bioactive compounds including flavonoids, tannins, amino acids, fiber, vitamins, and minerals to Triphala. These nutrients all support Triphala’s potential health benefits.

Amalaki fruit

Amalaki fruit

Amalaki

Amalaki the first herb in the Triphala trifecta, is also known as Indian gooseberry, aonla, amla, amla berry, and aonla. The plant belongs to the Euphorbiaceae family. Both Hinduism and Buddhism revere the deciduous tree and its fruit.

The berries could be mistaken for green grapes save for the six vertical lines on them. Mature berries could also be yellowish, red, pink, or white. They tend to be fibrous and hard with tastes falling somewhere between tart and bitter.

Nutritional Profile of Amalaki

Because of its many important compounds, Amalaki plays a critical role in a number of traditional Indian health modalities, not just Ayurveda. Its nutrient composition includes:

- Antioxidants

- Phytocompounds including quercetin, tannins, gallic acid, ellagic acid

- Anti-inflammatory compounds

- Vitamins A, B9/ folate, C, and E

- Minerals calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium

- Dietary fiber

"Best Recipe to Make Amla Powder at Home" by Renu Gupta's Daily Kitchen

Potential Health Benefits of Amalaki

Amalaki fruit contributes to several of Triphala's healing and cleansing properties. Research studies have indicated that on its own, amalaki may treat:

- Cardiovascular disease

- Gastrointestinal diseases

- Immune system

- Promote healthy aging

- Healthy vision

- Perform Antioxidant activity

- Anti-inflammatory activity

- Anti-cancer activity

- Neuroprotective activity

- Chemo- and radioprotective activity

- Diuretic aid

Bibhitaki fruit

Bibhitaki fruit

Bibhitaki

The second herb of the trifecta is bibhitaki. Other names include baheda, bulla, thandi, bahira, bedda nut, and beach almond. In Sanskrit, the tree is called Vibhita or Vibhitaka. In English, it means “fearless.” Once it’s in the human body, no disease dare enters!

This deciduous, perennial tree is a member of the Combretaceae family. It produces ovoid, grey, astringent-bitter-tasting drupes. Both ripe and unripe fruits as well as the seeds, flowers, bark, and roots are used in herbal medicine and herbal cleansing preparations.

The fruits and other plant parts are also used in traditional Chinese medicine.

Nutritional Profile of Bibhitaki

Bibhitaki nutrients include several important and powerful:

- Antioxidants

- Phytonutrients including tannins, ellagic acid, gallic acid, chebulagic acid, lignans, and glucosides

- Vitamin C

- Minerals, especially copper, iron, manganese, potassium, and selenium

- Dietary fiber

"Exploring Medicinal Plants Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica)" by Shri SadaMangalam Ayurvedic Clinic Kolhapur

Potential Health Benefits of Bibhitaki

Bibhitaki supplies Triphala with a long list of potential health benefits and cleansing opportunities. That list includes

- Weight loss

- Increased metabolism

- Treating gastrointestinal diseases

- Cardiovascular diseases

- Respiratory issues from simple colds to bronchitis

- Hepatic and renal diseases

- Treating animal bites

- Performing antimicrobial activity

- Anti-inflammatory activity

- Promoting healthy skin and hair

- Dental caries

- Boosting immunity

- Detoxifying agent

Haritaki fruit

Haritaki fruit

Haritaki

Haritaki is also known as Indian hog plum and Indian walnut. Labeled “The King of Medicines,” it is the third herb of the Triphala trifecta. In the Tamil language, it is called kayakalpa. In English, it means ‘rejuvenating.’ According to East Asian healers and their medical texts, haritaki balances our doshas, the three energies (Pitta, Vata, and Kapha) circulating our bodies.

This large, deciduous, perennial, sacred herb is also used in Siddha medicine. Like bibhitaki the tree is a member of the Combretaceae plant family. The drupe fruit is oval-shaped, green, and ridged with a yellow to orange-brown interior. The ripened fruit is black. Depending on the variety, the flavor ranges from sweet to tart to bitter.

There are seven varieties of haritaki plants: Amruta, Abhaya, Chetak, Jivanti, Putane, Rohini, and Vijaya. Besides its own unique taste, each type has its own set of nutrients and potential health benefits. The trees’ bark and roots are also used in Eastern traditional herbal medicine.

Nutritional Profile of Haritaki

Overall, haritaki plants are nutrient-dense with ample supplies of:

- Antioxidants

- Phytocompounds including flavonoids, tannins, gallic acid, and ferulic acid

- Amino acids

- Vitamins C, E, and K

- Minerals copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, and potassium

- Essential fatty acids, especially linoleic acid

"Change Your Life with This One Herb Haritake" by Take Action Jackson

Potential Health Benefits of Haritaki

With such a pedigree of beneficial compounds, haritaki definitely increases the potential potency of Triphala and its ability to treat a myriad of human ailments and conditions.

Research shows that haritaki has the potential to treat:

- Gastrointestinal diseases

- Cardiovascular disease

- Respiratory ailments including colds and asthma symptoms

- Inflammatory conditions such as arthritis

- Dental caries

- Skin disease

- Increase appetite

- Stimulate libido/ fertility

- Promote healthy vision

- Strengthen hair and nails

The Three Fruits of Triphala

"How to Make Triphala Tea" by Banyan Botanicals

Bottom Line

Triphala’s popularity in Ayurveda therapy is clearly due to its vast healing potential. The rich veins of antioxidants, anti-inflammatory compounds, phytocompounds including flavonoids, quercetin, tannins, and gallic acid, vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and dietary fiber found in the trifecta herbs amala, bibhitaki, and haritaki make it quite the potent preparation.

Individuals should keep in mind that allergic reactions and drug interactions could occur with use. There is no medical evidence to support Triphala or amala, bibhitaki, and haritaki curing, treating, or preventing diseases. Always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information, and permission before taking any supplements.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Beverley Byer

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