Triphala

Triphala

Triphala

Common Names

  • Triphala churna
  • Triphala choornam
  • Phala trika

For Patients & Caregivers

The anticancer effects of Triphala have not been confirmed in humans.

Triphala is an herbal formulation used in the Indian medicinal system of Ayurveda for the treatment of various ailments. It consists of three medicinal plants: Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula, and Terminalia belerica. It may also be combined with Guggulu, a tree gum resin, for additional therapeutic effects. Triphala is used for dental caries, anemia, jaundice, constipation, asthma, fever, chronic ulcers, inflammation, obesity, and to strengthen the immune system against infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and AIDS. Triphala was shown to have beneficial effects in test tube and animal studies, but human data are limited.

  • To treat infections
    Studies done in mice showed that Triphala can reduce infections. Human data are lacking.
  • To treat gastrointestinal problems
    A few animal models suggest gastroprotective effects. Human data are lacking.
  • To control inflammation
    Animal studies suggest that Triphala may reduce inflammation. Human data are lacking.
  • To decrease high levels of cholesterol
    Animal studies show that Triphala can reduce cholesterol levels and other markers associated with obesity. However, this has not been studied in humans.
  • To strengthen the immune system
    Studies in rats have shown that Triphala can improve immune function, but only one small study in healthy humans suggests immune system benefits. Larger confirmatory studies are needed.
  • To treat cancer
    Although anticancer properties of Triphala have been observed in the lab, these effects have not been verified in human studies.
  • You are taking Cytochrome P450 (CYP) substrate drugs: Triphala may increase the risk of side effects of drugs that are metabolized by enzymes CYP3A4 and CYP2D6 in the body.
  • Triphala may cause gastrointestinal side effects, but these are rarely reported.
Back to top

For Healthcare Professionals

Triphala is an herbal formulation that is widely used in Ayurveda for the treatment of various ailments (1). It consists of equal portions of dried and powdered fruits of three medicinal plants: Emblica officinalis (Amalaki), Terminalia chebula (Haritaki), and Terminalia belerica (Bibhitaki) (2) and may also be combined with Guggulu, a tree gum resin, for additional therapeutic effects. Triphala is used to treat dental caries, anemia, jaundice, constipation, asthma, fever, chronic ulcers, inflammation, obesity, and to promote immunity against infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, and AIDS.

In animal models, Triphala showed hypolipidemic (10) and enteroprotective effects against methotrexate-induced damage (14). Triphala also alleviated colitis (22) and bromobenzene-induced nephrotoxicity (23). Other animal studies have demonstrated antiobesity (24), antiarthritic, and anti-inflammatory (25) (26) properties. However, none of these effects have been tested in clinical trials.

In humans, several studies compared the anti-plaque efficacy of Triphala mouthwash to that of chlorhexidine, although results are mixed (15) (17) (18) (27) (28) (29). Another study found that Triphala may actually promote oral bacterial biofilm formation (30). In a pilot study of healthy human volunteers, Triphala demonstrated immunostimulatory effects (31). Triphala rinse may help to reverse tobacco-induced oral precancerous lesions (32). More studies are needed to validate these effects.

Triphala may cause gastrointestinal side effects.

  • Gastrointestinal problems
  • Infections
  • Inflammation
  • Obesity
  • Hypercholesterolemia
  • Cancer

Polyphenols and flavonoids in Triphala are thought to be responsible for many of its effects. Gallic acid, a major polyphenol, has antioxidant and immunomodulatory properties (11) (33).

In laboratory studies, one of the components of Triphala known as Terminalia chebula was shown to be a potent hyaluronidase and collagenase inhibitor that prevented degradation of cartilage (7). In animal models, bromobenzen-induced nephrotoxic effects were reduced via increased antioxidant enzyme activity (23). Antiarthritic and anti-flammatory effects are linked to NF-kBp65 and COX-2 inhibition (25) (26), and its anticolitic effects are linked to its antioxidant activity and presence of flavonoids (22).

Triphala also appears to stimulate neutrophil function and decrease corticosterone levels in immunized rats exposed to noise stress (34). In a small study of healthy human volunteers, Triphala increased cytotoxic T cells and natural killer cells (31).

Triphala may have radioprotective effects (21) through inhibition of oxidative damage in cells and organs. Triphala also increased reactive oxygen species (ROS) in MCF-7 and T-47D breast cancer cells resulting in apoptosis (8), and protected mice from radiation-induced mortality (2) (3).

Despite its antibacterial properties, compounds in Triphala may promote the formation of oral bacterial biofilm formation via activation of glucosyl transferases (30).

Triphala may cause gastrointestinal side effects, but these are rarely reported (15) (18) (31).

  • Cytochrome P450 substrates: Triphala inhibits CYP3A4 and CYP2D6, and can affect the intracellular concentration of drugs metabolized by these enzymes (16).

  1. Sandhya T, Lathika KM, Pandey BN, Mishra KP. Potential of traditional ayurvedic formulation, Triphala, as a novel anticancer drug. Cancer Lett 2006;231(2):206-14.

  2. Naik GH, Priyadarsini KI, Bhagirathi RG, et al. In vitro antioxidant studies and free radical reactions of triphala, an ayurvedic formulation and its constituents. Phytother Res 2005;19(7):582-6.

  3. Jagetia GC, Malagi KJ, Baliga MS, et al. Triphala, an ayurvedic rasayana drug, protects mice against radiation-induced lethality by free-radical scavenging. J Altern Complement Med 2004;10(6):971-8.

  4. Kumar MS, Kirubanandan S, Sripriya R. Triphala Promotes Healing of Infected Full-Thickness Dermal Wound. J Surg Res 2007.

  5. Srikumar R, Parthasarathy NJ, Devi SR. Immunomodulatory activity of triphala on neutrophil functions. Biol Pharm Bull 2005;28(8):1398-403.

  6. Sumantran VN, Kulkarni AA, Harsulkar A, et al. Hyaluronidase and collagenase inhibitory activities of the herbal formulation Triphala guggulu. J Biosci 2007;32(4):755-61.

  7. Saravanan S, Srikumar R, Manikandan S. Hypolipidemic effect of triphala in experimentally induced hypercholesteremic rats. Yakugaku Zasshi 2007;127(2):385-8.

  8. Kaur S, Michael H, Arora S, et al. The in vitro cytotoxic and apoptotic activity of Triphala—an Indian herbal drug. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;97(1):15-20.

  9. Biradar YS, Singh R, Sharma K, et al. Evaluation of anti-diarrhoeal property and acute toxicity of Triphala Mashi, an Ayurvedic formulation. J Herb Pharmacother. 2007;7(3-4):203-12.

  10. Tandon S, Gupta K, Rao S, Malagi KJ. Effect of Triphala mouthwash on the caries status. Int J Ayurveda Res. 2010 Apr;1(2):93-9.

  11. Ponnusankar S, Pandit S, Babu R, Bandyopadhyay A, Mukherjee PK. Cytochrome P450 inhibitory potential of Triphala—a Rasayana from Ayurveda. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011 Jan 7;133(1):120-5.

  12. Narayan A, Mendon C. Comparing the effect of different mouthrinses on de novo plaque formation. J Contemp Dent Pract. 2012 Jul 1;13(4):460-3.

  13. Srinagesh J, Pushpanjali K. Assessment of antibacterial efficacy of triphala against mutans streptococci: a randomised control trial. Oral Health Prev Dent. 2011;9(4):387-93.

  14. Shakouie S, Eskandarinezhad M, Gasemi N, et al. An in vitro comparison of the antibacterial efficacy of triphala with different concentrations of sodium hypochlorite. Iran Endod J. Fall 2014;9(4):287-289.

  15. Sandhya T, Lathika KM, Pandey BN, et al. Protection against radiation oxidative damage in mice by Triphala. Mutat Res. Oct 10 2006;609(1):17-25.

  16. Rayudu V, Raju AB. Effect of Triphala on dextran sulphate sodium-induced colitis in rats. Ayu. Jul-Sep 2014;35(3):333-338.

  17. Kalaiselvan S, Rasool MK. The anti-inflammatory effect of triphala in arthritic-induced rats. Pharm Biol. Jan 2015;53(1):51-60.

  18. Bhattacharjee R, Nekkanti S, Kumar NG, et al. Efficacy of triphala mouth rinse (aqueous extracts) on dental plaque and gingivitis in children. J Investig Clin Dent. May 22 2014.

  19. Mishra S, Routray S, Kumar Sahu S, et al. The role and efficacy of herbal antimicrobial agents in orthodontic treatment. J Clin Diagn Res. Jun 2014;8(6):Zc12-14.

  20. Phetkate P, Kummalue T, Y UP, et al. Significant increase in cytotoxic T lymphocytes and natural killer cells by triphala: a clinical phase I study. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:239856.

  21. Belapurkar P, Goyal P, Tiwari-Barua P. Immunomodulatory effects of triphala and its individual constituents: a review. Indian J Pharm Sci. Nov-Dec 2014;76(6):467-475.

  22. Srikumar R, Jeya Parthasarathy N, Sheela Devi R. Immunomodulatory activity of triphala on neutrophil functions. Biol Pharm Bull. Aug 2005;28(8):1398-1403.

Back to top
Back to top
Email your questions and comments to aboutherbs@mskcc.org.

Last Updated