The Many Uses of Triphala
Triphala is a mysterious, almost miraculous, blend that has endured as Ayurveda’s most widely used herbal formula. Most commonly, it is recommended to maintain regular bowel movements and support a healthy digestive system—which it does! But there is much more to the powers of triphala. The classic combination of these three fruits (amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitaki) is said to be supportive for a thousand human health challenges! And because triphala is one of the most ancient of Ayurvedic remedies, it has been prepared in a myriad of ways over the last several thousand years. As you’ll see, triphala is useful in situations you may have never imagined. Here are a few of our favorite ways to use triphala.
A Gentle Daily Detox.
Triphala encourages all the tissues of the body to release the ama, or natural toxins, that are being held. The triphala then directs the ama to the digestive tract and carries it all the way through the process of elimination. A daily dose of triphala is an easy way to maintain regular detoxification and a healthy system.
A DIY Skin Cleanser.
Triphala can be used as a skin cleanser in two ways. For an exfoliating experience, mix triphala powder with enough warm coconut oil to make a paste and gently scrub the areas of your skin that could use some invigorating. Any areas of dead or callous skin will love this treatment. For areas of dull or discolored skin, apply the paste and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing it off with warm water. For more sensitive areas, make a triphala tea and strain it through a fine cloth. Once cool, use the tea to carefully wash your skin. This can be useful on non-cystic acne or areas of skin that are excessively oily.
A Rejuvenating Jam.
Mix 1 tablespoon ghee, 1 tablespoon honey, and 1 teaspoon triphala powder for a sweet, nourishing jam to take in the mornings or evenings in place of plain triphala. In Ayurveda, honey and ghee, when combined, act as a sort of “divine nectar,” carrying the herbs they are paired with deep into the tissues. This rejuvenating recipe is ideal for balancing vata, recovering from stress, and building ojas, the juiciness of the body.
A Refreshing Herbal Toothpaste.
It doesn’t taste great, but your mouth will thank you for it! The astringent qualities of triphala help to remove the build-up of toxins on the teeth, gums, and tongue. Mix a small amount of triphala powder with enough warm water to form a paste. Use your toothbrush to scrub the teeth and gently massage the gums. The triphala is deeply cleansing and may leave your mouth feeling slightly dry, so follow with a rinse of warm water, or a few minutes of oil-pulling with Daily Swish Oil. For extra sensitive, red, or irritated gums, try a triphala mouth wash instead of the herbal toothpaste. Simply make triphala tea, strain well, and once cool, swish and gargle the tea to cleanse the mouth without causing irritation.
A Revitalizing Eye Wash.
Eye washes are a very traditional way to use the clarifying and rejuvenating qualities of triphala. This practice is especially helpful after a long day of reading or time spent in front of a computer screen. To do this, make a triphala tea by boiling ½ teaspoon triphala powder in 1 cup of water for 2 minutes. Then, strain the tea several times until there are absolutely no particles left in the tea. This is very important to ensure that the eye wash does not cause irritation. Once you have used a cheesecloth (doubled-over) to thoroughly strain the tea, let it completely cool before washing the eyes. Use an eye washing cup if you have one! Blinking while washing helps to circulate the tea and cleanse the area more thoroughly. This practice is intended for general eye-care, so if you have a medical condition in the eyes, please consult with your health care provider before trying an eye wash.
Support Thick Nails & Strong Bones.
In Ayurveda, the secret to healthy nails, strong bones, and thick hair actually lies in the colon! The colon is one of the last stages of the digestive and elimination processes, and when things aren’t going right, waste can begin to accumulate in the colon and create ama. This coating of toxins prevents the absorption and assimilation of essential food nutrients, and the nails, bones, and hair end up not receiving the nutrition they need to thrive. When triphala is taken on a regular basis, complete and regular bowel movements become the norm, and the colon is able to receive all the nutrients and nourishment needed for vibrant health and radiant beauty.
A Clarifying Hair Rinse.
For a pick-me-up treatment for your hair, boil 4 tablespoons of triphala powder with 1 quart of water. If your hair is dry, frizzy, or depleted, add 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Allow the decoction to boil for 10 minutes before removing from the heat to cool (straining is not necessary). Once the hair-wash has cooled to a comfortable temperature, lean over a sink or bathtub and slowly pour the wash over your hair, pausing every now and then to massage it through. If you have time, wait 30 minutes or more before washing your hair normally. This clarifying treatment can be done weekly to encourage vibrant color, and thick healthy hair.
An Ally During Allergy Season.
Ayurveda says that allergies are caused by one of the doshas becoming aggravated by a particular substance (the allergen). Triphala is perfectly suited to support a healthy allergy response because it effectively balances all three doshas. While there are many different types of allergies, triphala can help the body’s natural immune response when it encounters the aggravating allergen. Take 1–2 tablets of triphala, or drink a tea made with ½ teaspoon triphala powder steeped in hot water each night approximately 1 hour before bed to support the body’s natural immune response—especially during allergy season!
A Cleansing Scalp Scrub.
When taken internally, triphala scrapes away the natural buildup of toxins in the digestive tract, and it does the same thing to the scalp when applied topically. To make a scalp scrub, mix 1 tablespoon of triphala powder with 1 tablespoon neem powder and moisten with enough water to make a paste similar to the consistency of pancake batter. Use your fingertips to massage the paste into the scalp and exfoliate the skin, paying extra attention to the areas that tend to accumulate the most oils. Add a few drops of tea tree oil if you’re prone to flakiness. For a deeper cleansing effect, let the paste set onto the scalp for 20 minutes before rinsing.
A Whole-Body Tonic.
Triphala is one of the most incredible substances in Ayurveda, partly because it has a fascinating prabhav—an unexpected effect. It is commonly known that triphala cleanses and detoxifies, but it’s the post-digestive effect that is not as widely recognized. Once triphala has done its work in the body and made its way through the digestive system, it leaves the tissues not only cleansed, but also nourished, toned, and rejuvenated. The three fruits of triphala all target different systems in the body, and together they create a synergistic formula that reaches into every tissue layer, or dhatu.
With all these ways to use triphala, it is no wonder it is the most widely used, beloved herbal formula in Ayurveda. Have you tried any of these DIY triphala treatments? Tell us about your favorite way to use triphala in the comments below!