The traditional medical system from India, Ayurveda, has been used for centuries to help heal everything from the common cold to cancer. Historically, practitioners of Ayurveda have used a variety of special herbal formulas to accomplish their healing.
Today, researchers are finding more and more evidence that one of the most important ancient Ayurvedic herbal formulas can increase longevity and help you stay healthier as you age. It’s called Triphala. It is considered to be “rasayana” – a rejuvenating medicine that restores youthful vigor.
The mainstream medical researchers investigating how Triphala works in the body have often been stunned by its potent benefits. Here’s how you can use Triphala to age better — with fewer complaints — with the passing years.
Ayurveda is a Sanskrit term that can be translated as the science of perfect health or the knowledge of life. It is a combination of the word “ayur” which means life and “veda,” the word for knowledge.
Triphala, an Ayurvedic combination of three fruits (the name Triphala literally means three fruits) has been used in India for more than a five thousand years according to ancient texts. More than 2,000 years ago an Ayurvedic physician named Charaka claimed that taking Triphala daily with ghee (clarified butter) and honey could ensure that you lived 100 years in good health with minimal aging.
And just as Charaka might have predicted, recent studies that have taken a look at how Triphala affects aging have indeed shown that it can have a beneficial affect on the aging process.
Prolonged longevity by 60 percent
Researchers in Canada used fruit flies, which are commonly used in longevity studies due to their lifespan, to identify the effects of Triphala and probiotics – beneficial bacteria that live in the digestive tract — on life expectancy and aging.
The researchers had expected a small benefit but they were shocked by how effective Triphala and the probiotics proved to be. This potent combination not only prolonged the flies’ longevity by a whopping 60 percent, but also protected them against the chronic diseases that accompany aging.1
According to the Canadian researchers who performed the study at McGill University, the biochemical pathways of the flies in the laboratory are about 70 percent similiar to the inner workings of human bodies.
“The effects in humans would likely not be as dramatic, but our results definitely suggest that a diet specifically incorporating Triphala along with these probiotics will promote a long and healthy life,” says researcher Satya Prakash, PhD.
The McGill scientists point out that the effects of Triphala and probiotics take place because of their influence on the “gut-brain” axis — a two-way communication system that trades messages back and forth between the bacteria in the digestive tract (the microbiome) and the brain. They note that studies show that when this gut-brain axis functions properly it plays a role in keeping away depression, maintains the health of the brain’s neurons and lowers the risk of irritable bowel syndrome.
In addition, Dr. Prakash believes that Triphala and probiotics could also probably help with problems like chronic inflammation, obesity and cancer.
Taming inflammation in your aging body
The three fruits that go into Triphala are not well known in the west. That’s because they’re the Indian medicinal fruits amalaki, bibhitaki and haritaki.
These fruits contain a wealth of natural chemicals that hold inflammation in check and perform as powerfully strong antioxidants. And when it comes to aging, studies, along with the traditional uses of Triphala, demonstrate that this formula can help with a part of the body that is particularly prone to malfunction as we get older.
That problem area is the digestive system.
As you get older, your digestive tract tends to slow down after decades of wear and tear and its rate of contraction (peristalsis) stalls. That makes you more prone to constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS can cause both diarrhea and constipation, as well as stomach pain, which is often accompanied by stomach bloating and swelling.
Other digestive issues linked to age include leaky gut (where the walls of the digestive tract allow toxins and other undesirable substances to enter the body), gastroesophageal reflux (GERD) and inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis.
However, Triphala may help lower the risk of all of these and may help alleviate some of their discomforts if they do occur.
Nurturing good intestinal bacteria
One key way that Triphala contributes to the health of the digestive tract is its nurturing of intestinal bacteria that produce butyrate. Butyrate is a short-chain fatty acid that helps to keep the cells along the wall of the digestive tract resilient and functioning properly.
According to research in Japan, butyrate serves as an epigenetic switch that boosts the function of the immune system by promoting the production of what are called regulatory T-cells in the digestive tract.
Lab tests at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences in Tokyo demonstrate that the presence of butyrate and butyric acid and the increase in T-cells keeps digestive inflammation under better control and can ease the symptoms of colitis.2
“Regulatory T-cells are important for the containment of excessive inflammatory responses as well as autoimmune disorders,” says researcher Hiroshi Ohno, MD, PhD. “Therefore these findings could be applicable for the prevention and treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), allergy and autoimmune disease.”
At the same time, studies have shown that Triphala can support the integrity of the walls of the intestinal tract by replenishing the cells in the wall with extra protein.3 Plus, clinical trials show it can help relieve constipation and stomach pain.4
Dealing with arthritis
Arthritis is another condition that many folks encounter in their senior years. In particular, osteoarthritis, a problem that arises as joints suffer wear and tear, can attack any joint but frequently strikes the hands and knees.
The latest estimates are that more than 30 million Americans suffer with osteoarthritis. Symptoms often starts as you reach your late forties. But here too, Triphala can help — aided by the fact it contains a beneficial natural compound called gallic acid. Gallic acid is a polyphenol, an antioxidant compound, that’s naturally occurring in fruits, vegetables and many herbs.
Tests show that this compound can go a long way toward reducing the pain and joint stiffness of osteoarthritis.
Neutralizes free radicals
Tests at Washington State University, for instance, demonstrate that gallic acid neutralizes free radicals that damage cartilage as your knees are deteriorating. This investigation shows that after you consume gallic acid and it reaches your knees, the act of walking — which stretches the knee cartilage with each step you take – reduces markers of inflammation in the cartilage.
The combination of walking and gallic acid also increases the deposit of collagen and glycosaminoglycans in the knees. These are substances that give the knee’s connective tissue extra strength and durability to withstand the forceful compressions of the knees as you walk.
Added to that, the researchers discovered that extra cartilage-supporting proteins also increase in the knees.5
As the scientists involved in this study point out, osteoarthritis is the most prevalent musculoskeltal problem in the world. Its destruction of cartilage in your joints can lead to debilitating pain and severe limitations on movement. Conventional medicine has no cure. The only type of treatments available from doctors are painkillers or the surgical replacement of joints. But having surgery and receiving artificial joints may not give you back a full range of motion.
Aging better from head to toe
Studies also demonstrate that Triphala can help you deal with other conditions that can plague you as you age. For example, Triphala may:
- Lower the risk of cataracts by a whopping 80 percent: Cataracts which cloud the lens of the eye are a major source of vision problems in older people. It is estimated that 90 percent of all of us develop cataracts by age 65. But studies show that Triphala’s antioxidant activity may be able to hold off cataracts and restore the supply of glutathione (a powerful antioxidant made by the body) to the eyes. One lab study indicates that Triphala may reduce the incidence of cataracts by an incredible 80 percent.6
- Support better brain health and brain function: Tests show that by supporting better health in the digestive tract and supporting beneficial bacteria, Triphala via the gut-brain axis may promote better memory and cognition.7 Other studies have shown that Triphala’s antioxidant polyphenols can increase the regeneration of the brain’s neurons and reduce oxidative stress in the brain.8
- Help old skin look younger: Research focusing on the effect of Triphala applied to the skin demonstrates that it can help skin resist sun damage and retain more of a youthful look with the passing years. One study concludes – “Triphala acts as a skin-protective ingredient by re-building skin structural proteins and stimulating selective youth genes.”9
- Strengthen your immune system: Triphala is rich in vitamin C and other antioxidants which are shown in research to strengthen the immune system and help protect your body from illness.
- Increase heart health: The plant compounds in Triphala are also great for your heart. Research shows that Triphala can help lower bad LDL cholesterol as well as bring blood pressure and blood sugar into balance. These actions may be why Ayurvedic healers report that Triphala can reduce your risk of damage to arteries around the heart.
When you review the research on Triphala and aging, you find that it’s only the beginning of how this ancient herbal formula helps promote better health and increases the body’s resilience against disease.
As with many natural remedies, it’s ironic that all this modern research is merely confirming what ancient healers knew way back when: Triphala can help you rejuvenate an aging body and increase your longevity.
The Aging Defeated Team