Triphala is revered as a multi-use therapeutic and panacea in Ayurvedic medicine. In particular, it’s seen as a cornerstone of rejuvenation therapies for people of all ages and constitutions.
Unlike many herbal remedies, triphala is a blend of several ingredients, specifically three dried berries native to the Indian subcontinent:
- Amla (Emblica officinalis)
- Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica)
- Haritaki (Terminalia chebula)
As with most berries, these are rich in bioactive phytochemicals that underlie many of triphala’s purported benefits, including antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, and cardioprotective effects1.
The result is a robust metabolism with regular use. For example, a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial reported that 10 g/d of triphala reduced the weight of obese participants by about 5% compared to the placebo group after three months2. It also prevented deterioration of glucose intolerance and reduced fasting insulin.
In another study involving adults with type-2 diabetes, 5 g/d of triphala was shown to lower fasting glucose by 25% and lower the post-meal blood glucose spike by 14% compared to a control group that didn’t receive any supplement3.
Aside from its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity456, these metabolic benefits could be attributed to triphala’s ability to reduce lipid synthesis and accumulation in fat cells7, as well as its ability to inhibit the absorption of carbohydrates after eating8.
And it’s likely that most of these benefits are owed to just two of the berries — a conclusion supported by a study out of India that looked at how triphala and its constituents each affected the development of diet-induced obesity in mice9. Basically, the mice were divided into six groups and followed for 10 weeks.
- Control group that ate normal chow.
- High-fat diet (HFD) group that ate a diet known to cause obesity in mice.
- HFD group that supplemented either triphala, amla, haritaki, or bibhitaki.
Expectedly, the HFD group gained considerable weight, became diabetic, and developed dyslipidemia. Triphala and its constituents completely prevented the weight gain and metabolic dysfunction that the HFD caused, effects most pronounced with amla and haritaki, suggesting that these berries are doing the heavy lifting in the triphala blend.
So, let’s talk about amla — a berry rich in vitamin C and several bioactive phytochemicals with potent antioxidant and mitochondrial-protecting effects. It’s no surprise that this berry does most of the heavy lifting in the triphala blend.
Feeding amla to aged rats and bathing muscle cells in low doses of amla juice has been shown to enhance mitochondrial energy production, stimulate mitochondrial biogenesis, increase antioxidant enzyme production, and protect cells and mitochondria from oxidative damage1011.
But, just as with triphala, amla’s most promising avenue of benefit is towards metabolic health, likely owed to its potent antioxidant and mitochondria-enhancing effects. Benefits that are seen in both individuals suffering from metabolic dysfunction and individuals who are otherwise healthy. With amla, there’s always room for improvement.
For example, in one study, researchers from Pakistan recruited healthy and type 2 diabetic adults to supplement with 1–3 grams of amla for 3 weeks, which they compared to a placebo in the healthy adults and to a common antidiabetic medication in those with diabetes15.
All doses of amla improved metabolic health in the healthy participants and the participants with diabetes, with the greatest benefits coming from the higher dose. When the effects of each dose was averaged out, amla was clearly more effective than a placebo at improving glycemic control and blood lipids, and just as effective as the antidiabetic medication at lowering blood glucose in those with diabetes.
In another study of adults with diabetes, 1000 mg/d of amla was as effective as a statin at improving endothelial function, reducing oxidative stress, increasing antioxidant enzyme activity, and reducing inflammation16. Even just 500 mg/d of amla had beneficial effects, albethem less pronounced.
The authors of this study later confirmed their findings in those with metabolic syndrome: both 500 and 1000 mg/d of amla reduced oxidative stress (20–30%), increased glutathione concentrations (24–50%), increased nitric oxide (40–50%), and reduced inflammation (40–54%) compared to a placebo17.
In adults with dyslipidemia, 1000 mg/d of amla reduced the atherogenic index by 39%, triglycerides by 15%, and LDL-C by 20% after 12 weeks18, while 500 mg/d was as effective as a statin for correcting the blood lipid abnormalities after just 6 weeks19.
Lastly, in healthy adults, taking 500 mg/d of amla for 4 weeks improved vascular fluidity, reduced an index for vascular age, and reduced markers of oxidative stress20.
Triphala is an Ayurvedic blend of three berries with potent antioxidant and antidiabetic effects, many of which are due to just one of the berries: Amla. The science overwhelmingly shows that triphala and amla are powerful metabolic rejuvenators and some of the most potent ingredients for sustainable, long-lasting metabolic health. That is why we’ve made them one of the cornerstone ingredients in our mitochondrial energy formula, Energenesis, and our health-boosting multivitamin superfood formula, Energy Essentials and Superfoods.