Herbs have been traditionally used for medicinal purposes in ancient Ayurvedic science since thousands of years. Triphala is one of the most commonly used herbal Ayurvedic medicines with very impressive antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative properties. Versatile as it is, many pregnant women wish to know whether it is safe to consume triphala or triphala powder during pregnancy – a time when to-be-moms need their health to be in its prime. Let us discuss the same now.
What is Triphala or Triphala Churan (त्रिफला चूर्ण) (Powder)?
The name Triphala is derived from the Sanskrit word “tri” meaning 3, and “phala” meaning fruits. So essentially, triphala is made up of 3 fruits, bibhitaki, amalaki (commonly amla or Indian Gooseberry), and haritaki. Native to India, triphala churan (powder) is widely acclaimed for its purported benefits.
It may, however, not always be safe to consume tripahal churna as it may pose health risks. Moreover, at times triphala is laced with lead and mercury making it a highly toxic supplement for human consumption.
Health benefits of triphala powder
A powerful combination of dried extracts of 3 fruits with high medicinal values triphala is touted as the greatest of all herbal formulations. Triphala also contains 5 of the six tastes that the Indian science of Ayurvedic medicine recognises- namely, sweet, sour, bitter, pungent and astringent. Only salty taste is missing from the mixture.
This powerful herbal remedy has many health benefits, and we list the top ones below –
1. Antiproliferative and proapoptotic properties
Triphala has been found to possess antiproliferative (inhibiting the growth of cancer-causing cells) and proapoptotic (killing cancerous cells) properties against colon cancer. A research1 in 2015 discovered potential phenolics in triphala that can both suppress and kill cancer causing cells. The study paved way for more studies on triphala as a natural anticancer treatment agent.
2. Beneficial for oral health
To prevent cavities, bleeding gums and other oral health conditions, triphala powder is used with water to make an after-rinse. Impressive results may also be noticed using triphala rinse if you are suffering from stubborn plague and gingivitis.
3. Natural laxative and colon cleanser
Triphala powder is a much gentler alternative to OTC laxatives to regularise bowel movement and even nourish the digestive tract. It is also used as a natural colon cleanser to promote health and fight constipation related conditions such as bloating, fatigue and anxiety. Using triphala as a natural laxative and a colon cleanser will boost the functioning of your nervous system and make you overall healthy.
4. Aids in weight loss
Due to its laxative properties, triphala helps in flushing out toxins from the body regularly. This is an essential component of any weight-loss strategy. As your digestive health improves, you feel lighter, less bloated and nutrients are able to reach your system more efficiently. Triphala has compounds that promote the metabolic functions and discourage obesity.
5. Helps manage diabetes
The side effect of a modern lifestyle, diabetes is one of the most common health condition faced by people across the globe. Considered as an epidemic, diabetes may as well be managed naturally by using triphala on regular basis. A study2 on the subject concluded that triphala can help control blood sugar levels effectively. However, medical guidance on the matter is highly recommended.
6. Lowers cholesterol levels
Good cholesterol is vital in healthy amounts for the proper functioning of body cells, high cholesterol levels can however pose health threats. Cholesterol can build up arterial plaque by combining with fats and calcium. This arterial plaque can trigger heart diseases and cause a stroke. Triphala has been found to be effective in reducing and maintaining healthy good cholesterol levels and reduce “bad cholesterol” or LDL.
7. Anti-Inflammatory properties
Triphala is high in antioxidants. It also possesses polyphenolic properties making it anti-inflammatory in nature. This is why triphala is recommended for most common daily discomforts. Some studies have shown promising results in patients of arthritis, though further research is needed to conclude.
Is Triphala safe during pregnancy?
While it may seem like the best thing to do, triphala is not entirely safe for pregnant women and is they are often advised against it. Although amla is considered healthy during pregnancy, the role of other two ingredients of triphala is questionable.
Consuming triphala powder during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, due to the stimulation it provides to the digestive system. Conditions such as diarrhea and abdominal pain are often observed after eating triphala. Since triphala is commonly used to treat constipation, it contracts the intestinal muscles and makes bowel movements easier. However, the same action is thought to be responsible for miscarriage when pregnant, due to its downward flowing action.
Also, triphala causes the baby to get stimulated, making the baby’s heartbeat go up. This is not ideal during the gestation period, so before you decide to take triphala to treat digestive woes during pregnancy, do consult your gynaecologist.
Allergic reactions such as mouth ulcers, swelling in mouth, shortness of breath, itching etc. may also be observed on consuming triphala during pregnancy.
For these reasons, triphala is not recommended to pregnant women and lactating mothers. The properties that the herbs exhibit may pass on to the baby through breastmilk. Yet, some mothers take triphala during breastfeeding period because it aids weight loss by flushing the toxins out. It is not really wise since if the baby too gets it in breastmilk, he or she may suffer from diarrhea. If you are keen on using triphala during breastfeeding, make sure to discuss it with your doctor first.
Risks associated with Triphala Churna
The efficacy of triphala has been vouched for in Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years now. However, clinical studies on the benefits of triphala have been limited, and most tests have been done on animals. Before conclusive evidence is presented, it is best to exercise caution when using triphala.
Another important risk with triphala is its toxic contamination, so if you do use triphala, make sure you but from a reputed brand and manufacture and read the labels carefully.
Also do take care that it does not interfere with any other medicine you might be taking. Always discuss it with your doctor first.
As is with any herb, caution is best when making it a part of your daily diet regime. If in case you feel the beenfits of triphala outweigh its risks, we still suggest you to have a thorough discussion with your doctor to prevent any possible side-effect during pregnancy.