Triphala Side Effects and Precautions

Triphala pregnant womenWhile triphala has many health benefits, what are some of the potential side effects and concerns to be aware of when using it and what should you do if you have a negative reaction?

First a quick summary of the important contraindications for taking triphala.

These are especially relevant for pregnant women, those on blood thinning medication and people suffering from IBS or other digestive disorders. 

Common Precautions and Side Effects of Triphala Powder

  • Unsafe for women during pregnancy and not recommended while breastfeeding. Triphala should never be taken by pregnant women as it could increase miscarriage risk. It it is also suggested to avoid it during breastfeeding.
  • Avoid triphala if you have irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea or other digestive issues. Triphala churna can improve digestion but may initially increase intestinal upsets if the dose is too high.
  • Triphala detoxification can lead to a healing crisis. Potential symptoms include headaches, nausea, an upset stomach and a feeling of being tired and rundown.
  • Possible allergic reaction to triphala churna. If you experience swelling in the mouth or throat, shortness of breath or sudden skin redness and itchiness discontinue triphala use.
  • Potential drug interactions with blood thinning medications. Triphala should be taken away from important medications and may interfere with blood thinning medications like warfarin.

Let’s look at each of these potential side effects of triphala churna and how to avoid them so you can experience the the many benefits of triphala without problems or issues.

Triphala During Pregnancy

The major precaution to be aware of when using triphala is that it shouldn’t be taken by pregnant women.

While this is often a blanket statement used with pretty much every type of supplement or herb, Ayurvedic practitioners and texts advise specifically against taking it during pregnancy so it’s very important.

It is said to have a ‘downward flowing’ energy that may increase the risk of miscarriage. It is also not recommended during breast feeding.

Ayurvedic amla, one of the three ingredients in triphala, is often recommended for pregnant women and lactating mothers in India. It is the other two ingredients in triphala – haritaki and bibhitaki – that are contraindicated during pregnancy.

So if you’d still like to keep your antioxidant intake high whilst pregnant, switching to powdered amla instead of triphala would be a possible solution.

Interestingly, amla is also believed to enhances fertility in both men and women by balancing the Apana Vata. It is noted as being beneficial for overall reproductive health and supporting healthy conception. Much more on the health benefits of amla here.

Digestive Side Effects of Triphala Churna

It is recommended not to take triphala churna if you are experiencing diarrhea, IBS or other digestive problems.

Higher doses can trigger loose stools and more regular trips to the bathroom. If this happens unexpectedly, don’t take triphala for day or two and then start using it again at half the dose you had previously.

See if this amount is better tolerated the next morning before continuing. From that point on it is best to only increase the dosage slowly and in small amounts, perhaps just 1 gram at a time, while monitoring the effects you’re getting from it daily.

Some people experience an increase in intestinal upsets, bloating and flatulence as a side effect of taking triphala, though this is usually only a temporary effect.

Once triphala powder has got to work clearing out the intestinal tract most people report less stomach problems and gas after a few weeks of using it.

Healing Crisis

One issue to be aware of with detoxifying formulas like triphala churna is the potential for a healing crisis. When too many toxins are being expelled from the body than it is used to handling it can be a bit overwhelming for your system.

Some potential symptoms and side effects of a healing crisis can include headaches, nausea, stomach gas and diarrhea and a generally tired and rundown feeling.

If you experience anything like this when you start using triphala then realize that there is a good chance it is as a result of your body detoxifying and eliminating trapped wastes.

With any of these types of symptoms, stop taking triphala churna for a day or two and then, if you’d like to continue using it, start again at a smaller dose, half is usually a good recommendation.

So for instance, if you took a heaped teaspoon of triphala for the first time and experienced side effects like headaches, tiredness or just not feeling your best, then try and drink a lot of water and eat fresh fruit and lots of vegetables and other healthy foods throughout that day.

Don’t take any powdered triphala the next day. Then after two days, if you’d like to try it again, start with a smaller dose. In this case, two grams or half a level teaspoon, or even just one gram or a quarter of a teaspoon of the powder could be a good start to check for triphala side effects.

If you still experience the same negative reaction with the same intensity it would be best stop taking triphala and consult an Ayurvedic practitioner. In most cases though, once you find your correct triphala dosage, you’ll feel a lot better after a week or two of using it.

Possible Allergic Reactions

While very rare, it is possible to have an allergic reaction to triphala churna. Symptoms could include:

  • Swelling in the mouth or throat.
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
  • A sudden onset of skin redness and itchiness.
  • Diarrhea shortly after taking triphala and ongoing for several hours afterwards.

Should you experience any of the triphala allergy symptoms, immediately stop using it and consult a doctor if they continue or worsen.

Using Triphala with Medications

There are no commonly reported drug interactions with triphala in the medical literature, but it is always best to take medications well away from any cleansing formulas in general. So if you are taking important drugs in the morning then take your triphala in the evening or vice versa.

Some research has suggested avoiding taking triphala churna if you are on blood thinning medications like warfarin due to a possible interaction between gallic acid (a beneficial antioxidant) and the cytochrome P450 inhibitory effect used by these drugs.

Consult your practitioner before using this herbal preparation if you have any concerns or are taking pharmaceuticals like blood thinning medications for a serious condition.

For the vast majority of people, triphala powder is a safe and effective detoxifier that can greatly improve your digestion, elimination and health in general. The next page will look at how to take triphala for maximum benefit.

Photo 1 credit with thanks: notsogoodphotography

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